Profit Boot

India The Leather Manufacturing Capital of the World

Leather has been an integral part of human culture for centuries, serving as a versatile and durable material for various products. In recent decades, India has emerged as a global leader in leather manufacturing, capturing a significant share of the market. This extensive blog delves into the historical context, geographical advantages, traditional craftsmanship, government policies, and contemporary developments that have positioned India as the leather manufacturing capital of the world.

Ancient Leather Roots: India’s association with leather production traces back to ancient times, evident in artifacts discovered from Indus Valley Civilizations. The presence of skilled artisans and the availability of high-quality raw materials laid the foundation for a thriving leather industry.

Colonial Era: The British colonial rule introduced modern techniques and machinery to India’s leather industry, providing further impetus for growth and expansion. This period saw the establishment of tanneries and leather-based cottage industries in various regions.

Abundance of Raw Materials for Leather: India possesses an abundance of raw materials essential for leather manufacturing, including high-quality hides and skins sourced from livestock such as cattle, buffalo, sheep, and goats. The diverse climatic conditions across the country nurture a variety of animal species, ensuring a consistent supply of raw materials.

Strategic Location: India’s strategic geographical location serves as a significant advantage in the global leather trade. Located in close proximity to major leather-consuming regions such as Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, India enjoys cost-efficient access to export markets, reducing transportation costs and lead times.

Legacy of Leather Craftsmanship: India boasts a rich heritage of traditional craftsmanship in leather production. Artisanal skills passed down through generations have ensured the preservation of intricate techniques, such as vegetable tanning, hand-stitching, and hand-tooling, adding uniqueness and value to Indian leather products.

Ethical and Eco-Friendly Practices: India’s emphasis on sustainable and ethical practices in leather manufacturing has garnered global recognition. The utilization of natural dyes, non-toxic tanning methods, and adherence to stringent environmental regulations contributes to the overall appeal and acceptance of Indian leather in the international market.

Supportive Policy Framework: The Indian government has implemented policies and initiatives aimed at promoting and strengthening the leather industry. Financial incentives, tax benefits, infrastructure development, and skill enhancement programs have encouraged investment, technological upgradation, and export-oriented growth.

Leather Export Promotion Council: The establishment of the Leather Export Promotion Council (LEPC) provides assistance and support to Indian leather manufacturers by facilitating international marketing, participating in trade fairs and exhibitions, and conducting market research. Such concerted efforts have positioned India as a reliable and preferred source for leather products worldwide.

Technological Advancements in Leather Industry: India’s leather industry has embraced technological advancements to improve production efficiency, quality control, and design capabilities. Automated cutting machines, advanced tanning processes, and CAD/CAM software have revolutionized leather manufacturing, enabling Indian manufacturers to compete globally.

Increasing Market Share: India’s commitment to quality and competitive pricing has enabled it to capture a significant share of the global leather market. Indian leather products, including footwear, garments, accessories, and upholstery, are in high demand due to their exceptional craftsmanship, aesthetic appeal, and value for money.

India’s ascent as the leather manufacturing capital of the world is rooted in a combination of factors, including historical legacy, geographical advantages, skilled craftsmanship, supportive government policies, and technological advancements. Enabled by a rich heritage of traditional techniques and a commitment to sustainability and ethical practices, Indian leather manufacturers have gained global recognition for their quality products. As India continues to invest in research and development, infrastructure, and international collaborations, its position as a leading player in the global leather trade is set to strengthen further, solidifying its status as the preferred destination for leather manufacturing.

For a chat about your work forces safety footwear requirements please give us a call on +27 11 892 8030 / 8031 / 8032 or drop an email to organise a call

Leather a quick understanding : From Start (in the field) to Finish (out of the shoe box)

Why is leather used for safety boots?

Leather is a durable and flexible material that is made from the hides or skins of animals such as buffalo, cows, goats, sheep, and pigs. It is often used in the fashion industry to make shoes, bags, belts, jackets, and other accessories. Leather is valued for its toughness, resistance to wear and tear, and aesthetic appeal. With proper care, leather products can last for many years and even improve in appearance with age. It is one of the oldest raw materials known to mankind.

How do you get from an animal hide to a skin?

The process of turning animal hides into footwear involves several steps, including cleaning, tanning, and finishing.

What’s the first process in getting the leather?

The initial process of removing an animal hide to make leather involves several steps. First, the animal is slaughtered and the hide is removed. The hide is then soaked in water to remove any blood, debris or dirt. It is then treated with a chemical solution to remove any remaining flesh and hair. Next, the hide is stretched and dried to prepare it for tanning.

Tanning is the process of treating the hide with chemicals to prevent decay and preserve the leather. Once tanned, the leather can be dyed, cut, and shaped to create various products.

What happens after tanning of the leather?

After tanning, the hides are treated with finishing agents to make them soft and pliable, and then they are cut and sewn into the shape of shoes. Finally, the shoes are finished with details like laces, buckles, and soles before being boxed up and shipped off to our stores.

Why is buffalo leather better than cow leather in safety footwear?

Buffalo leather is stronger than cow leather because buffalo hide has a unique fiber structure that makes the leather more dense and durable. Additionally, buffalo leather tends to have fewer natural defects than cow leather, giving it an overall higher quality. This is why we use it is the main component in our high quality safety boots and safety shoes.

Is foot safety being taking more seriously?

Absolutely! Safety is being taking more seriously across the planet. And so it should be! According to a report by Grand View Research, the global safety footwear market was valued at USD 5.7 billion in 2018 and is expected to reach USD 8.2 billion by 2025! This indicates a steady and growing demand for safety footwear worldwide.

Leather : The Various “Grades” and What You NEED to Know!

What Is Genuine Leather?

(What Animal Hides or Skins Are Used?)

Make no mistake (and it’s an eye-opening fact for many to sometimes hear) if you are walking in a pair of genuine leather shoes… those leather uppers once walked around themselves. Leather is an animal skin (or hide), predominantly bovine – from a cow or buffalo in the sense of safety footwear. It is a NATURAL material. The largest suppliers globally of safety footwear leathers are India and China. But they are also available from Brazil. The greatest “Leather City” is found in India (known as the leather capital), which has been producing since the early 19th century where British forces made their base. With the cow being a sacred animal in India, buffalo hides make up the majority of the skins available for purchase and converting. Cow is however available in certain states.

Why Do We Use Leather?

Leather is used because it can be cut and shaped with ease. It is strong, light, very supple but most importantly – it breathes! Despite massive leaps and developments is synthetic materials – predominantly for sports shoes, leather remains very popular due to durability and comfort when wearing for long hours.

Are There Different Grades Of Leather?

An animal hide is very thick, and can be broken down into layers (often colloquially called; grades). A cross section of an animal hide will show you the outer layer which was covered by hair – all the way to the inner flesh layer closest to the inside organs. Between that lies the full grain / top grain and split. All are classified as genuine leather.

What Is Bonded Leather?

But what part of the genuine leather are you getting? And that’s what you need to know. After the split, you end up with bonded leather. Bonded leather is comprised of very little genuine leather; more flakes of leather held together with a form of polyurethane of latex for bond (and can comprise of as little as 10% leather flakes).

Which Is The Best Type Of Leather?

Now obviously the part that held the skin and hair is exceptionally strong – the epidermis layer. This would comprise of the full grain / top grain. This layer has been exposed to everything from the elements (wind, hail and rain) to fly bites, bee stings and barbed wire fencing cuts. It’s the animals protective layer looking after the insides.

What Is Full Grain Leather? and What Is Split Leather?

In order to have leathers one can work with – cut and shape – you need to reduce the thickness of the leather once it’s off the animal. Once removed it will swell to around 4mm/6mm in substance. And this is why it needs to be split into the various layers (grades). When one splits the leather – try picture peeling bark off a tree. The splitting process then feeds the thick leather between two heavy and giant metal rollers which are turning and pulling the skin inwards – which have settings to move the rollers closer together or further apart (depending on thickness required). On entering the rollers at rapid speed, the leather skin is met on the other side by a super sharp blade running the length of the rollers – which divides (or splits) the leather skin into separate layers. Ah! The puzzle pieces are falling into place now. The picture is becoming clearer. The top layer is the full grain. What’s left underneath forms the start of the split. Some skins can be split again. This is often where the split is thinned and the fibres and flakes are removed. Those final pieces are compacted and joined with latex to create bonded leather. This is really the closest one gets to a synthetic material whilst still using the word “leather”.

When Should I Use Spilt Leather?

Splits are still incredibly useful and valuable – and are often corrected, to create a finished surface which still looks similar to a top grain quality leather. These are used predominantly on Econo type styles. Others used in areas on the shoe and boot which will be under less strain or impact, as a more natural suede (tongue, trim or panel).

How Thick Is Safety Footwear Leather?

Leathers can range anywhere from 0.8mm upwards. But for safety footwear uppers we need something more robust and hard wearing. Leathers need to range from entry level 1.6mm/1.8mm up to 2.0/2.2mm for the very top end footwear. Thinner leathers can be used for the comfort collar lining and tongue.

Why Are Different Types Of Leather So Expensive?

And this is where the price variations come into play between econo styles and heavy duty styles. The best hides are reserved for the best styles. As you create a boot with features to withstand harsher work environments, you use stronger (more resistant) leathers. And the Full Grain / Top Grain is the highest quality leather available.

Through the tanning and finishing process, which takes the actual skin on a journey of treatment and colouring we end up with the workable product which is then cut into panels and stitched together to create the wonderful uppers you see on your shoes and boots. The less panels, the more expensive the boots. The more natural looking and feeling of the upper – the higher the grade of the leather. The softer and more flexible, the better the quality. And watch out for those “plumping up” their thin 1.2/1.4mm leather uppers with synthetic EVA type materials. Often easily seen if you look at the raw edges of the stitched panels. Make sure you are getting what you paid for! Breathability is the most important for comfort!

How Do I know If It Is Genuine Leather?

AND… Always look for the LEATHER LOGO, which is an image of an animal skin laying flat on the ground depicting the full hide spread out. No head, no legs, belly and no tail.

Genuine Leather

The Genuine Leather logo to look out for on safety shoes


Leather Facts

  • Annually, 1 billion animal skins are utilised for leather product manufacture – resulting from global meat product. 300 million cattle (buffalo and cows), 540 million sheep and 440 million goat.
  • Leather is a natural product.
  • Full Grain/Top Grain leather is the most superior of the skin. More durable, longer lasting.
  • Leather is used because it can be cut and shaped with ease. It is strong, light, very supple but most importantly – it breathes! Unlike synthetic/plastic material.
  • The leather LOGO is important to look for on safety footwear to ensure you are getting a 100% genuine leather product.
  • Bonded Leather, Action Leather and Pleather is predominantly leather fibres mixed with a latex to plump it up.