Soane's sustainable materials: Leather


Hides and skins are a by-product of the meat and dairy industries and would otherwise go to waste if not processed as leather.  Livestock farming in some parts of the world has been implicated in deforestation.  Leather alternatives are mostly made from plastic, derived from fossil fuels.  Progress is being made with leather substitutes made from plants and fungi, but these are still in development and currently more suitable for clothing.  Conventional tanning uses highly toxic chemicals and can create damaging water pollution.  Modern tanning methods reduce pollution and the volume of toxics used.

The Leather Working Group (LWG) is a non-profit that provides the world’s leading environmental certification for the leather industry.  Audited tanneries can receive a Silver or Gold rating of their performance on, for example, chemical and water management, energy use, greenhouse gas emissions, waste management and hide traceability.

About a third of our leathers are sourced from a tannery in Spain with a Gold rating, demonstrating a strong commitment to environmental protection and supply chain traceability.

Our commitment on leather:
By end 2026: We aim to source all leather from tanneries that are either Leather Working Group (LWG) GOLD certified or meet our high internal audit standards for leather based on LWG criteria in order to be more inclusive to smaller British tanneries. We’re working with local British producers to increase the traceability of our hides to ensure animal welfare throughout the supply chain. We will also ensure that all our hides contain no chromium based tanning agents.