What is Kering‘s leather strategy? Chairman and CEO François-Henri Pinault explains it to Le Figaro. French luxury goods giant says it is active in research and innovation. The reasons for this focus on alternative materials, however, sound weak.
Pinault’s interview with Le Figaro comes just a short time after the press release in which Kering announced the exclusion of fur from the collections of the maisons it controls. The conversation first turns to the possible use of alternatives (“there are synthetic ones, but they have an unsatisfactory ecological footprint”). Then, the interviewer leads Kering CEO to talk about other animal-derived materials as well.
“We created in 2013 our Materials Innovation Lab,” Pinault preaches, “which is constantly working on all categories of materials to select the most environmentally friendly ones. Leather is one of the materials being studied: with our teams of innovators we are also supporting avant-garde research on leather and its possible substitutes,” he continues. “This is the case of a material similar to leather cultivated in the laboratory from mushrooms”. The reference, Pinault explains, is to Demetra, a material used by Gucci. A material that has aroused so much perplexity among tanners and insiders.
Kering’s leather strategy
When asked by the Le Figaro journalist whether he plans to give up the use of leather, the French entrepreneur clarifies: “The problem with leather is different from that of fur, because it is a co-product of the agri-food industry: animals are bred for meat and not for leather. But it may become a rarer resource as meat consumption declines. We need to think about alternatives now”.
But the argument sounds weak to us. Despite physiological fluctuations in individual markets, no significant drop in global meat production is expected. On the contrary, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA, whose research centre is always very attentive to the dynamics of animal husbandry) forecasts for 2021 a positive performance in the sector, a year still affected by the pandemic.