We already know where some reader’s mind would go when they see the title of this article – “Are you promoting for animal cruelty?” We understand that a lot of people are against the idea of manufacturing with cow leather, and we are just as deeply mesmerized as you may be with different vegan movements, but all we want to do here is to take a neutral stance and appreciate the history and craftsmanship behind the technique of tanning.
Leather has always been regarded as a highly durable and classic material, yet, it does have its weakness. Designers and tanners have tried to achieve transparency with this material, and nevertheless “you could see through it, the leather was hard like parchment. And it couldn’t get wet. Ever.”
Innovators from ECCO decided to go back in time and study old Egyptian and Greek tanning techniques, and in three years, they have created a new tactile and visual result. They have successfully created soft and transparent leather which was also waterproof. Able to be created in different colors, this material open different doors to design ideas which were previously unattainable.
“It came out of the challenge of rethinking leather aesthetics in terms of both visual and touch properties… I would say it would be creating a futuristic material that still maintains the properties that we know, love, and require from leather… But our aim was to identify concrete ways we could combine our deep tanning experience with the significant horsepower of our state-of-the-art R&D facility in the Netherlands to push the technology forward, solving practical issues that have eluded the industry up-to-now like lasting pliability and the ability to get wet.” says Sruli Recht, creative director and lead of the ECCO Leather project. This ‘ghostlike’, bendable and flowy material has now become a new narrative.