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Why Does Repair & Re-Use Matter? Celebrating the Longevity of Leather.

As climate emergency and planet health become daily news and a global concern, there is growing public interest in solutions to reduce global warming, carbon footprint & consumer waste.

The footwear & apparel sector has a huge part to play. The industry contributes 10% of greenhouse gases & 20% of waste water. Fast fashion means 50 billion garments are discarded within a year of being made.

What's more, according to research "‘the climate change impacts of all natural fibres would be negative if the number of wears was increased by 50%: that is, greenhouse gas emissions would be avoided entirely primarily because emissions associated with the manufacture of a new petro-PET garment were averted".

Luckily behaviour is changing.

Recent global surveys and social media sentiment show that consumers, particularly millennials, want to change the way they consume.

A worldwide Deloitte survey reveals that 90% of 16-24 year olds plan to increase fashion recycling & purchase pre-loved items.

And a quick glance at the Earthshot Prize finalists this year shows global innovators - including the City of Amsterdam - at the cutting edge of reducing waste.

What’s more, the new United Nations #ActNow campaign is a public rally to curb consumption, repair, recycling and upcycling apparel and footwear.

Many types of materials including leather have a part to play. And this is why It’s A Long Story was launched.

Curated by Leather Naturally and The Prospect Society, It's A Long Story is the world’s first ever digital exhibition that spotlights and celebrates the long lasting design, longevity, beauty and circularity of leather.

The exhibition is supported by high profile creative designers and makers including Suzie Fletcher (The Repair Shop), Anya Hindmarch, Bill Amberg and Julie Deane CBE who have all shared essays and interviews.

It's A Long Story features films, gallery images and personal stories from the public that spotlight the legacy & longevity of leather. These leather icons range from furniture to catwalk fashion, exclusive royal ceremonial pieces and footwear from style to utility.

The exhibition creates a timeline of content covering topics such as 'Worn in Style' & 'Longevity & Luxury' & features an array of stunning ancient and modern leather pieces from seventeenth century historical travel items such as the Sedan Chair donated by the Museum of Leathercraft to footwear, homeware and futuristic design from contributors as diverse as Coachtopia handbags to a WW1 leather welding apron from Brooklands Museum of Motoring.

An array of global fashion brands are featured - all advocates for the repair & cycling of leather including Coach, ECCO, Dr Martens, Dents and Schott NYC.

In the words of Global Creative Director, Liam Maher at ECCO, the longevity of leather means it has a unique ability to tell stories “Leather is the material with by far the greatest potential to capture memory. When both designers and consumers who are passionate about leather talk about this, you’ll often hear them describe leather as a living material. Leather captures, complements, and remembers shape. Folks will even describe their relationship with a leather product – whether it’s shoes, bags or garments – as if it were a friendship”.

It’s A Long Story also offers tips and advice on the care and repair of personal leather pieces with videos from experts at The Leather Repair Company showing how to repair a scratch and The Boot Repair Company launching their brand new Dr Martens repair service.

Coachtopia - the new circular leather craft brand from Coach is a significant pioneer in this movement. In their words “we’re harnessing more than 80 years of Coach leather expertise to make beautiful things according to our Made Circular™ design philosophy. This means we reimagine waste as a valuable raw material and work backwards, crafting our products from recycled, repurposed or renewable materials and designing them to live multiple lives with clear pathways for takeback, reuse or recycling”.

It’s A Long Story also encourages consumers to upload their own personal leather stories in a 'personal stories' section which is already seeing regular contributions!

Suzie Fletcher from The Repair Shop adds “Leather is sustainable and long lasting. This is exactly what we need the public to know! Once people know about the longevity of leather, they can make educated choices. In fact, there is nothing better than having a positive and open discussion, taking into account all points of view.”

Never more than now has it been so important to spotlight materials that are natural, long lasting and repairable. This exhibition not only helps illustrate the role that leather plays in a circular, sustainable economy, it highlights how leather is loved across generations from well worn family pieces to beautiful modern fashion and design.

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