About Regenerative Leather

  • by Vivienne Austin

It is amazing the different types of leather or imitation leather that is used to cover the wide range of furniture and clothing in the global market. From full grain leather to split leather, bicast leather, faux leather and regenerated leather, there’s so much to learn and it can be so hard to understand the pros and cons of these materials, as well as their level of sustainability. Today, at Scarlet Destiny, we wanted to share some clarity on the subject of regenerated leather, what it actually is and how it’s more sustainable than other types.

Regenerated leather differs from genuine leather not only in price but also in aesthetics, especially noticeable in the installation process. When examining an item or a leather seat, it may appear to be genuine leather, but it could actually be regenerated leather fibre, commonly known as regenerated leather. This term can be misleading, as it might lead consumers to believe it is real leather, when in fact, it is a product created from the mechanical and chemical waste of skin.



While real leather is largely made from leather scraps, regenerated leather is produced by grinding and reassembling 80% of leather waste, with the addition of latex, synthetic compounds, or natural gums (20%). The production process is in fact very similar to that of paper, as both involve finely shredded ingredients that are mixed with rubber and latex, dried into sheets, coloured, and then sewn together. The final result resembles genuine leather, making this material the perfect leather alternative, and more sustainable as it brings waste back into the economy.


Regenerative leather & Regenerative farming


Sustainability plays a crucial role in various industries nowadays, including leather production, and encompasses economic, social, and environmental considerations alike. Starting with the premise that genuine leather is a sustainable material as it can be a meat industry by-product, it can be classified as a sustainable material that meets current needs without compromising future generations. However, as an industry, there is always room to strive for more sustainable practices and that’s where the concept of regeneration comes into play.



The concept of sustainability aims to achieve a net-zero impact, yet there is a need to go beyond this by restoring the planet and rethinking the economy. Lots of social responsibility experts are currently advocating for regeneration as the next phase of our sustainability plan, emphasising that sustainability's goal shifts towards regenerating economies, societies, and the biosphere instead of using non-natural materials such as recycled plastics. Regenerative farming plays a crucial role in meeting sustainability objectives because it focuses on enhancing soil health, promoting diversity, and boosting carbon sequestration to enhance fertility. Livestock, especially cattle herding, plays a pivotal role in revitalising soil diversity and carbon sequestration. By carefully managing pasturelands, a diverse range of animals, insects, plants, bacteria, and fungi can thrive, fostering a healthy ecosystem and enhancing soil fertility through increased carbon storage. This interconnected approach extends beyond farming, influencing industries like leather and other material production downstream. While soil degradation and biodiversity loss pose significant threats to global food security, they also serve as catalysts for aligning the supply chain with a shared mission. While regenerative farming has predominantly focused on the food sector, the agriculture industry underpins various supply chains, including fashion, interior design, automotive, and waste material processing.


Regenerative farming & Regenerative fashion 


End-markets are increasingly seeking products that are created with the best interests of the planet in mind. Because of this, major players in the fashion industry are committing to a regenerative future, acknowledging the significance of collaborating with the lower levels of the supply chain to diminish their environmental footprint. This collaboration brings together the start and end of the supply chain. Leather, as a material, aligns well with this approach, setting a new standard for animal welfare through responsible cattle farming methods. While some sectors of the economy still prioritise ethical materials like non-animal alternatives such as plastics, regenerative farming offers a new path forward.


Well-known brands like Timberland, Kering, and Patagonia are fully embracing regenerative farming practices. Patagonia has even established a food company to advocate for regenerative agriculture products. Although a certification framework has been proposed to establish standards for regenerative products, it is crucial for the entire supply chain to meet these criteria before brands can be recognised as Regenerative Organic Certified.



Alice Robinson and Sara Grady are pioneers in the industry, having founded Grady + Robinson, a company dedicated to perfecting regenerative leather. The partnership, solidified in 2020, merges a wealth of knowledge and a mission to merge leather with regenerative agriculture, offering a traceability approach with profound integrity to the leather supply chain in the UK. In fact, their products are already highly sought after by artisans, major brands, and designers alike. The concept of providing designers with ethically sourced leather stemmed from Alice's quest for responsibly farmed leather during her fashion studies. Her work earned her recognition as a pioneer in sustainable farm-to-fashion design. Conversely, Sara’s background in regenerative farming in the US instilled in her a commitment to utilising every part of the animal, leading to the idea of creating location-connected leather sources.


Grady + Robinson selectively source hides from Pasture-fed Livestock Association or Savory Institute-certified farms, focusing on high animal welfare and ecological management practices. Teaming up with UK craft tanneries using traditional vegetable tanning methods, they supply traceable bovine and sheep leather rooted in sustainable agricultural practices.

These women are already disrupting an industry ripe for change. Alice Robinson is reshaping her design approach, aligning with an industry-wide shift. Rejecting traditional collection cycles, she crafts only when there is demand. Together, Sara and Alice are launching a venture to provide traceable leather to fellow designers, offering custom finishes for brands seeking distinct styles. Their enterprise meets the rising demand for ethically sourced leather, embodying their shared values and dedication.

The main challenge for regenerative agriculture lies in its diversity, with various agricultural practices existing worldwide. For instance, intensive livestock farming in developing countries often falls short in terms of environmental and animal welfare standards. Regenerative farming is not a one-size-fits-all process but a collection of practices that heavily depend on the specific land. Therefore, a farmer in California may not be able to adopt the same practices as one in Finland. Establishing universal standards for regenerative agriculture will be complex, and its implementation will undoubtedly be a long-term endeavour. However, with end-markets taking the lead, the future appears to be headed towards regenerative practices. Let us know your thoughts!


[information sourced on leatheruk.org, farmingforabetterclimate.org and one4leather.com

Image 1 & 2 sourced on canva.com, Image 3: Alice Robinson and Sara Grady. Photo by Jason Lowe]


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