What is "Sustainable Leather" and why is it so important to us here at Parker Clay?
At Parker Clay, we’re intensely proud of our products and our mission. Parker Clay offers the finest sustainable leather goods in a variety of both contemporary and traditional styles. But what does exactly does it mean for leather to be sustainable? And how can leathermaking be environmentally conscious? Here we dig into how we care for the planet throughout our leatherworking process.
Reducing Environmental Impact in Animal Agriculture & Leatherworking
In a day where vegan leather and faux leather alternatives are touted by global fashion brands as the eco-friendly way to wear "leather" style, people are often surprised to learn that genuine animal leather can be manufactured in a way that not only has negligible environmental impact but actually minimizes the impact of animal agriculture as well. We do this through manufacturing processes that produce a material called sustainable leather.
Sustainable leather is leather that is a by-product of local farming and agriculture industries. It is considered sustainable because the animals are not raised for the express purpose of using their hides for goods, they are primarily farm animals. This process of using the animal skins for leather also increases the life cycle of the materials created through farming, reducing the environmental impact of the meat industry.
Animal Welfare & Ethical Fashion
We source our leather from only local Ethiopian providers who treat their animals with care and respect; animal welfare is a core part of what we do and how we provide ethical fashion to the world. We also offer prime fair-trade prices to local farmers. Since we use ethically sourced leather from food animals, our sourcing has negligible environmental impact on local agriculture and processes. And because our products are hand-made, our industrial processes are likewise low impact and sustainable.
Another term for our sustainable leather is “ethical leather ” — ethics form the backbone of our business and have led to Parker Clay’s success.
"Eco Leather" & Leather Alternatives
“Eco leather” or “eco-friendly leather” is a trade term to describe leather-like materials that are sourced in various ecologically or animal-friendly ways, such as from plant fibers and other raw materials.
These leather substitutes are often derived from plastic, wood fibers, or other non-animal products that are produced with harsh chemicals and leave behind industrial waste. By contrast, our sustainable leather is actual real animal skin, sourced from animals raised locally for food. The local chrome-free tanning process used for our sustainable leather goods recycles water and is non-artificial, and void of toxic chemicals and heavy metals.
By relying on traditional local practices, carbon emissions and greenhouse gas emissions are lower and so is our impact on climate change - naturally real leathers that don't use dangerous chemicals are in growing demand.
We stand behind our ethical leather and its sourcing because unlike so-called “eco-leather”, our leather is genuinely environmentally friendly.
Sustainable Leather Manufacturing
The leather manufacturing industry across the world has a huge impact on the environment. Here at Parker Clay, we are working to change that by being part of a sustainable leather industry that goes beyond how our real leather is sourced and carries throughout the entire leather production process. We use traditional, local practices that reduce the impact of chrome and other toxic chemicals that are found in our competitor's products. We also demand our partners follow strict adherence to international standards for environmentally sustainable processes in their leather tanning and preparation of the leather we source.
Who are our Artisans?
The Parker Clay set of best practices for sustainability are not only ecological, but also prioritize cultural, and economic sustainability.
We employ local women from Addis Ababa, into the sustainable leather industry, many of whom have been impacted by human trafficking and the sex trade. We provide training, pensions, health care, paid time off, access to transportation to and from work, and even a laundry service.
We are immensely proud of the fact that we can provide support to these women, their families, and future generations. By providing dignified, well-paying positions, we help empower our artisans to send their children to school and provide for their parents in old age. Our artisans are like our family and we love to set goals and build a better Ethiopia together through sustainable development.
Preserving Native Ethiopian Crafting Traditions
Our goods are designed in California and are handcrafted in Ethiopia where our Artisans practice native Ethiopian craft knowledge and techniques. Since our luxury goods are works of art that are meant to be passed down within families, we use a mix of contemporary design and traditional Ethiopian artistry to create our unique luxury leather goods.
As leather ages, it develops a unique patina and shine. This means that your Parker Clay item will only become more beautiful as it gets older. This can’t be said for many other brands of handbags and leather goods in the fashion industry. By buying Parker Clay, you’re not only supporting a great ethical brand, but you’re also gifting yourself with a work of art that will be handed down in your family for future generations.
The Sustainable Supply Chain: The Good Business of Good Ethics
We use two phrases when we educate people about our products – Conscious Consumerism and Fashion on Purpose.
Conscious Consumerism refers to the idea that consumers should have options to support companies that use their resources to care for the most vulnerable, and that doing so does not compromise on the quality and style of products. Not only is it possible with a sustainable production process, but as environmental concerns and concerns about climate change and environmental issues grow, it’s necessary. Done properly, Conscious Consumerism makes space for sustainable fashion. Consumers can have the accessories they want the most, make the world a better place in the process, and with well-crafted, high-quality pieces they most certainly won't need to buy the same item twice in their lifetime. The Parker Clay's sustainable supply chain is designed with fair trade practices in mind, our view is that being an ethical firm is essential to our success.
Fashion on Purpose speaks to the idea that fashion doesn’t need to simply be about visual design and style, but can also be about the story of how the goods were produced and the good that is done by producing amazing, fashionable products locally, and how this can lift people out of poverty.
Parker Clay's Ethical Leather Promise
So, we at Parker Clay believe that preserving local skills, sourcing our leather locally and sustainably, and providing our artisans with a fair, livable wage and benefits all contribute to the creation of a beautiful, fashionable product that you would be proud to own.
Parker Clay's leather products truly are having a positive environmental impact across the world, which means that by living sustainably and celebrating sustainable fashion through quality leather products, you are too.