No “vegan leather”. Much less products that are passed off as green, but are in fact highly polluting. Christoph Mayer really believes in sustainable footwear. Today, he is the creative director of the brand Think!, founded in 1991 in Austria by Martin Koller. Most of the leather comes from Italy, and he also has a number of subcontractors in our country.
The dean of sustainable footwear
The company has been producing men’s shoes for decades and already 30 years ago set up production according to real sustainability. Since 2000, the brand has been part of the Legero United Group. But the path has not been easy: “Back then, being a pioneer was complicated,” Koller explains to Fashion United. “Certain standards for materials did not yet exist, people were looking for vegetable-tanned leather and the chain of suppliers was very small”. Today Think! can boast the use of 85 per cent chrome-free tanned leather. “We are 100% uncompromising,” says Mayer, “even with lambskins”.
About the question regarding the difficulty for many companies to use vegetable-tanned leather, the creative director of Think! recalls how it is naturally more expensive and requires more manual dexterity. “In the past, for example, vegetable-tanned leather was less lightfast. If a shoe,” explains Mayer, “was left in the shop window for a long time, it would fade and that was obviously a problem for retailers. That’s why some people had reservations about this leather. In the meantime, however, a lot has changed, and more and more retailers are looking for sustainable collections”.
The real green choice: no vegan leather
Is choosing tanned leather sustainable? According to Christoph Mayer, yes. And it emerges very well when he refers to the circularity of the leather: “No animals are bred to make leather. It is a waste product of the meat industry. From a circular economy perspective, nothing would be worse than throwing away animal leathers instead of processing them”. He does not even consider alternative materials to leather: “I will not even import cactus leather from South America (the expression is banned in Italy by the Leather Decree, ed). In my opinion it is not a better alternative to real European leather. Shoes made of vegan leather, and therefore plastic, make no sense when looking at breathability, flexibility, longevity and therefore also sustainability and healthiness”.