Many brands look to leather as the chosen materials for their products. It’s tactile appeal and physical properties make it appealing to most consumers as well as designers. The challenges that confront businesses with the desire to use leather are the ever fluctuation of price and the production timescale. ”A real leather handbag is often thought of as a great luxury” (Kate Leather, 1977). For a big brand with a large supply chain which could cover the globe it can take anything up to 1 – 6 months for the final products to hit the stores.
The luxury goods segment of this particular range is on the increase. More people are looking to invest in a high quality accessory. The luxury goods segment is very different to that of the high-street products. Handbags purchased through the high end brands come with an expectation, almost a statement, of social class. The handbag/ wallet or purse are pieces of reflecting this statement. It must also be recognisable through the brands image. The price range of branded goods can range from £100s to tens of £100s.
The high street has its own charm, in the way it effectively has the luxury brands designs but watered down. The price range is more widely catered to the everyday consumer. The materials used most commonly are bovine or pig, as they are more cost effective. With these more affordable pieces it is not always obvious where they have been purchased.
Figure 1.5: Charts showing the the top 10 money making brands of luxury goods (left) and top 10 mass appeal (right) Brands 2015
Shopping for accessories has, over the years, become very easy. Virtual stores are increasingly popular, giving the consumer more access to products. It also allows the brands to keep their customers informed about new products and deals, in a more continuous manner. Traceability has also become more of a social issue. Customers want to know where their item has come from and where was it made.
Within the luxury goods industry bovine is by far the most amicable material of choice. The properties of this skin combined with the surface area and availability worldwide, makes it the more reliable source for this sector. The wide variety carters for all budgets. Pigmented leather will always reign in this sector as it is the longer lasting of the finishes when applied correctly. Luxury brands will also continue to use bovine but that will in addition also use the smaller more expensive leathers to add, not necessary quality, but more aesthetics and prestige to the piece they have designed.
“However, due to changing social mores and opinions focusing on the leather industry, these external factors may drive changes to the point where traceability is a key factor for the manufacturing of pieces.”