Monday, 25 September 2017

Luxury footwear brand Harrys of London to enter India

British luxury men’s footwear and accessories brand Harrys of London is planning to open its first outlet in Delhi, followed by Mumbai by early 2018

The designer leather brand is planning to open its first outlet in Delhi, followed by Mumbai by early 2018, a top executive at the company said.

Founded in 2001, Harrys of London is present in more than 20 countries. The company is looking for franchise partners in India.

“India is an important market for us. Our target group is businessmen and travellers between the age group of 25 and 60 years. Our collection ranges from contemporary London and formal footwear to sneakers and casual footwear,” said Steven Newey, chief executive officer at Harrys of London.

Apart from footwear, the company also sells travel bags, wallets, shoe-care products, scarves and belts.

Over the next five years, Harrys of London is planning to open five to six stores in India and is expecting to earn 1 million pounds per store. “We have been growing at an annual rate of 20-25%. We sell 25 pairs of footwear every month, on an average. In five years, India (operations)will be able to earn 5-6 million pounds,” said Newey, without divulging the overall revenue of the company.

A typical Harrys’ store in India will be spread over 1000 square feet. The company also sells its products online through its own e-commerce platform

Harrys footwear is designed in the UK and manufactured in Italy. Going forward, Harrys is also planning to enter New York by the end of this year.

The branded footwear market in India is currently estimated at Rs 20,000 crore, 60% of which is men’s segment, according to data from consulting firm KPMG.

While the branded market is currently dominated by old footwear brands like Relaxo, Liberty and Bata, much of the footwear segment in India is unorganized. However, with the increasing disposable income and brand awareness, there has been a shift towards the branded footwear space. At present, the men’s footwear segment is growing at a rate of 10%, while the women’s category is growing at 20%, according to KPMG.

Sunday, 24 September 2017

Is Lab-Grown Leather the Next Wardrobe Staple?

Leather jackets are a must-have in many wardrobes. While some adore genuine leather straight from our bovine buds, others seek alternatives to genuine leather, whether due to price or their stance on animal products. This could be their new go-to substitute: lab-grown leather.

New York-based Modern Meadow has ditched the cow in favor of growing leather in a lab. Growing materials otherwise found in nature isn’t new; we’ve seen scientists working on in vitro meat and teeth.

Leather is a $100 billion raw material market and is a co-product of the meat industry, which means it tends to fluctuate in price, quality and availability, said Modern Meadow co-founder and CEO Andras Forgacs in a statement last year. The company hopes to commercialize what it calls “biofabricated leather.”

Hell Bent for Lab-Grown Leather

For full effect, turn up the Judas Priest while reading the rest of the article.

Biofabrication is the process of growing materials originally found in nature using living cells instead of animals is called. Modern Meadow starts biofabricating leather by cultivating collagen, which is considered the most abundant protein in the animal kingdom — people also inject it to get rid of pesky wrinkles.

Using the DNA editing tools to cut and replace specified base pairs, Modern Meadow engineers yeast cells that produce collagen, which is eventually assembled to create a “hide”. And of course the leather is then tanned, a chemical process that prevents decay, just like when it comes from cows.

“Until a couple years ago, we were still using tissue engineering to produce lab-scale volumes of collagen. Now, using our proprietary biofabrication process, we are producing animal-free, recombinant collagen that rivals any collagen currently on the market,” said CTO Dave Williamson during the annual meeting of the Society for Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology. “This shows that it’s possible not only to create breakthrough materials but to do so at an industrial scale.”

Can’t wait to get your hands on this new-age take on a much-loved material? Sorry, it’s not available for purchase, at least not yet. But you can get a glimpse of the first lab-grown leather clothing item at The Museum of Modern Art in New York City beginning in October. Williamson told The Atlantic that Modern Meadow’s T-shirt “will change the way you think about leather.”

But here’s the big, crucial question: Will Modern Meadow’s product have that sweet, sweet smell that many associate with leather?

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Way forward for Leather Industry

Every Business during the course of its Journey moves through various phases and leather industry of the valley is no exception to this fact. This phenomenon can better be understood with the help of business cycle graph. Reason for cyclical behaviour of business can be many ranging from various internal and external factors. There are strategies to be followed at every phase of the business curve. Once a business reaches a maturity stage it requires change in its products or services to push forward. It could be the introduction of totally new product(s) or innovations in current product(s). If nothing is done at this stage to drive the business forward it will eventually go into decline mode which itself will lead to the closure of the business. This is the general understanding from the business life cycle graph. Kashmir’s leather Industry also went through various phases of business life cycle model and is in a decline mode. Its survival depends on the strategies adopted at this stage. There are various reasons for the decline of the leather industry in the valley:

Cheap imports
As per the industry experts primary reason for slump in demand of raw or tanned hides is the presence of cheap imports from various international markets. Even after a drastic fall in the prices of raw hides in comparison to 2014-15 it is still costlier than many international markets. Evidence to this fact are the latest figures related ton exports from the country. As per the, India’s leather industry has grown drastically, transforming from a mere raw material supplier to a value-added product exporter.
•Total leather and leather good exports from India stood at US$ 4.72 billion during April 2016-January 2017.
•During April 2016-January 2017, the major markets for Indian leather products were US (15.69 per cent), Germany (11.82 per cent), UK (10.85 per cent), Italy (6.61 per cent), Spain (5.27 per cent), France (5.02 per cent), Hong Kong (4.71 per cent), UAE (3.69 per cent), China (3.16 per cent), Netherlands (3.01 per cent), Belgium (1.78 per cent) and Australia (1.44 per cent).
•At 48.82 per cent, footwear (leather and non-leather) and footwear components accounted for the lion’s share of leather exports in April 2016-January 2017, followed by leather goods and accessories with 23.37 per cent share, finished leather with 15.60 per cent share, leather garments with 9.71 per cent share and saddlery & harness with 2.50 per cent share.
•Per capita footwear consumption in India is expected to increase up to four pairs, while domestic footwear consumption is expected to reach up to five billion pairs by 2020.
Way Forward
One can see the revival in the leather industry of the valley if prices of raw hides fall further and come in line with international markets. This will lead to demand creation, but at the same time may lead to decline in bottom line figures or loss eventually. Which is not a good sign for revival of the industry.
Michael E. Portor in his five-force model identifies “bargaining power of the buyers” as competition, but it is also an opportunity for a declining business. Leather dealers from the valley need to forward integrate and invest in various finished leather products like footwear, jackets, various accessories, etc. This is a high time to adopt this strategy and revive the industry. Leather industry in India is primarily export oriented, but domestic demand has also risen over the years. Which is a good opportunity for leather dealers of the valley especially the presence of various online market places like Myntra, Jabong, Flipkart, Amazon, Etc. makes it easy to sell products in the domestic market. Then is the question of investment in manufacturing units where finished products will be made. Well BPO (Business process outsourcing) is the answer, multinational companies use it very often to outsource supportive activities and focus on core business processes only. Leather dealers from the valley should outsource the manufacturing of finished goods. When investing in business people are always sceptical about the amount of capital to be invested and most of the time 2-3 lac is a sufficient amount to kick start a new business. Once it shows prospects of growth fresh capital can be infused in later stages. Dealers from the valley are at a competitive advantage as there is 70-80% decline in the prices of raw hides which is also the primary raw material for finished products. Whereas on the other hand, prices of finished goods are mostly on the rise depending on the quality of the product and other factors. Now they need to know how to penetrate the already existing leather products market. The best strategy for them in a market like India would be to price their products lower than the competition. This pricing strategy is adopted by companies in case of new and existing products to attract larger number of buyers in the initial phase. India is a highly price sensitive market where in we recently witnessed the effect of JIO’s aggressive pricing to gain market share promptly. This strategy increases the product sales in the company's present markets through an aggressive marketing mix. It is usually introduced to: increase the rate of product usage; encourage repeat purchases; attract consumers away from competitors; or attract current non-users.
(The writer can be reached at:

Friday, 22 September 2017

Leather, Grown in a Lab Without Cows

To make leather, first you have to raise a cow.

Or another animal, though you really do need the whole animal because since pretty much the beginning of time, it has not been possible to grow skin for leather without the attendant flesh and bone and blood and guts.

But now a company called Modern Meadow says it can “biofabricate” leather without the rest of the cow. It does not quite grow cow skin, either; it grows a strain of yeast engineered to produce collagen, the protein in skin that gives leather its strength and stretch. Traditionally, making leather amounts to removing almost everything from skin (fat, hair, etc.) that isn’t collagen. Modern Meadow is basically skipping ahead. Once purified, pressed into sheets, and tanned, their vat-grown collagen becomes, essentially, leather.

No dead cows. No scars or nicks. And none of the petrochemicals used to make pleather or vegan leather.

It’s a radical new way of making leather, reliant on genetic engineering and decoupled from the processes of traditional agriculture. Engineered yeasts have long been used in the production of drugs like insulin, but recently—and perhaps surprisingly given the debate over genetic engineering—they’re entering the world of luxury goods: spider silk, perfume, and now leather.

When Modern Meadow publicly unveils its leather in the next month—in the form of a “reimagined” graphic T-shirt—it will not be at a store but at a fashion exhibit at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. The company employs a chief creative officer as well as a professional tanner, and it’s been carefully cultivating its mystique. Modern Meadow doesn’t just want to imitate leather, the company keeps reiterating; it wants to reimagine leather, transcending the physical limits of a cow.

The T-shirt “will change the way you think about leather,” promised David Williamson, the company’s chief technology officer, though he could not yet reveal to me how.

* * *

Modern Meadow was not always so interested in fashion. Its founders—CEO Andras Forgacs and his father and chief scientific officer Gabor Forgacs—had previously started the company Organovo to grow human tissue for medical and pharmaceutical research. Going from engineering human tissue to animal tissue, says Andras Forgacs, seemed like a logical next step. In 2011, they started Modern Meadow with the goal of growing leather and eventually meat in tissue culture.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Fabletics expands into footwear

Sportswear brand Fabletics co-founded by Kate Hudson is launching its first-ever footwear collection as it continues to expand the brand into a full lifestyle offering.

The debut footwear collection features 11 styles of training shoes, slip-ons, booties, lifestyle sneakers and high tops for women, which incorporate performance benefits such as lightweight and flexible materials, such as memory foam soles and breathable mesh, as well as fashion elements like faux suede finishes, zipper details and reflective accents.

"We are thrilled to expand the Fabletics brand into another new category with the launch of footwear, which is being introduced in direct response to feedback from our members," said Adam Goldenberg, co-chief executive and co-founder of TechStyle Fashion Group. "Our goal at Fabletics is to bring women everything they need to live an active lifestyle, and with our new footwear collection, they can easily outfit themselves in fully styled head-to-toe looks.”

Fabletics footwear will be available globally in eight countries, the UK, US, Australia, Canada, Germany, Spain, France, and the Netherlands, with prices starting at 39.95 dollars.

Hudson founded Fabletics in 2013 and it now boasts over 1 million worldwide members and in May it announced its first-ever collaboration with singer Demi Lovato.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017


BEFORE NIKE LAUNCHED Flyknit in 2012, the company invested years of research into building the machinery and software that designers could use to weave the synthetic yarn into nearly seamless shoe uppers. It paid off. Nike has since sold scores of Flyknit shoes and now makes products like sports bras using the same manufacturing process.

Now, Nike is extending the process to a new material: Flyleather, a sustainable leather material modeled after Flyknit. The first batch of Flyleather shoes will be sold in an all-white Tennis Classic with a limited number of Air Force 1, Air Max 90, Cortez, and Jordan 1s available.

Flyleather looks and feels like regular leather but comes from an entirely different process. Unlike traditional leather—made from an animal hide that’s been cured, soaked, and tanned—Nike’s material combines leather scraps and polyester blend fibers. While traditional leather-makers discard parts of the hide that are blemished or too soft and stretchy, Nike takes those pieces and grinds them into a fine dust before combining it with polyester fabric and water. “It’s a little like baking a cake,” says Tony Bignell, VP of Nike’s footwear innovation. This pastelike material, which can be dyed or imprinted with patterns for a textured feel, is then bonded to a light scrim to make Flyleather.

Nike teamed up with British company E-Leather, which pioneered this process to make seat covers for the transportation industry. E-leather claims its can be up to 50 percent lighter and five times as durable as typical leather, because it has structural strength and stability built directly into the material. This tunability is useful for making more-personalized shoes. As with Flyknit, designers can use software to build extra strength into specific areas of the upper, where the foot needs more support. “Really what we’re trying to do is be more precise and engineered,” Bignell says.

Flyleather was born out of Nike's sustainability arm as a way to reduce the amount of waste and carbon associated with leather, which is the second most harmful material the company uses in its shoes. “We've always struggled to find ways to address the leather environmental impact,” says Hannah Jones, chief sustainability officer at Nike. Rather than stitching together the best pieces of hide and throwing away the rest, Nike uses a machine to cut an upper out of a single piece of Flyleather and then reuse whatever’s left. “You can take what would've gone to a landfill and put it straight back into the material, so it’s a continuous cycle,” Jones says.

Jones thinks Flyleather is close enough to traditional leather that most people won’t notice the difference. It’s soft and supple like normal leather, and even lighter. In her mind, it has all of the material benefits and none of the drawback. “It’s leather,” Jones says, “but better.”

Monday, 18 September 2017

You've worn a Bata but here's what you didn't know about the iconic shoe brand

Part of our lives

Traditionally, Bata has been a hit with the Indian middle class and probably most of our first pair of shoes had the brand embossed on them. Even now, with several brands to choose from during our indecisive shoe-buying shopping experience, Bata comes across as a relief offering a wide range of affordable and practical shoes.

It's not an Indian company

If you thought Bata is an Indian shoe brand, you are wrong. Bata is a family-owned Czech entity, having been founded in 1894 in the town of Zlin by Tomas Bata, a ninth generation descendant of a family of cobblers and shoemakers.

How Bata came to India

When Tomas Sr died in an aircrash in 1932, the apprentice son, who was only 18, took over the company. He began to expand the company, and arrived in undivided India to source rubber and leather in the mid-1930s travelling from Karachi to what is now Kolkata.

Steeped in Indian culture

During the 1930s, India lacked an organised footwear industry and the shoe market was dominated by Japanese imports. But Bata started manufacturing from Kolkata, and in 1939 it had nearly 4,000 employees and 86 shops. It was selling nearly 3,500 pairs of shoes per week.

The first India-made shoe machine was produced by Bata in 1942. A leather footwear factory was established at Patna, Bihar, which is known today as Bataganj.

Bata makes a lot of shoes

Bata now owns 23 manufacturing facilities in 18 countries around the world, including Indonesia, India, Italy and China. More than 30,000 people work for Bata. Bata was the largest shoe company in Europe during early 1900s with the company producing about 2,200 pairs of shoes a day.

By 2003, Bata was selling 160 million pairs of shoes a year. In 2004, Guinness World Records recognised Bata as the world's largest shoe manufacturer and retailer for having sold more than 14 billion pairs of shoes.

Bata University

In 2001, the company established Tomas Bata University in Zlin, Czech Republic. The university enrolls about 9,700 students and has six faculties offering courses in technology, economics, humanities, arts, logistics and crisis management, and health care.

Strong footing in India

Bata has sold 6.3 lakh pairs of shoes through online last year across 750 markets in India. In 2016, the company started the franchisee store operations last year with around 30 stores which has proved to be successful whereby it has already been expanded to 50 outlets. There are currently 1,300 company-owned stores.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Reducing leather pollution with molten salts

From handbags and jackets to car interiors, leather products are almost everywhere. But processing the leather for these luxury items creates a lot of potentially harmful pollution. Now, one group reports in ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering a new method for processing leather that is more eco-friendly.

According to Rolls Royce, it takes 12 cow hides to upholster the interior of one of their automobiles. The journey from cow to a leather seat is a long one, involving many steps. One of the more well-known steps is called tanning, but before that can even happen, hair must be removed from the hides, and the fibers must be "opened" up or swollen. Currently, manufacturers use lime and sodium sulfide to accomplish these steps, but this produces sludge waste and toxic gas, and then it requires ammonium salts to remove the lime. Ionic liquids are molten salts at room temperature and are not very volatile, making them attractive alternatives to harsh substances. These liquids have been investigated for use in leather-making, but they've only been applied to a single process. Jaya Prakash Alla, Jonnalagadda Raghava Rao and Nishter Nishad Fathima wanted to see whether they could completely eliminate the need for lime and sodium sulfide by using ionic liquids in both the hair removal and fiber opening steps.

The team performed three different treatments on goat skins. For the control, the researchers used traditional methods. The second set of skins was processed with a hybrid method (called E1) that involved an enzyme for hair removal and lime for opening fibers. The third treatment (called E2) involved the enzyme and an ionic liquid for hair removal, then the ionic liquid again for fiber opening. The ionic-liquid-treated skins weren't quite as strong as the control after tanning, but they had the right coloration and appearance. The E2 treatment eliminated the use of lime, sodium sulfide and ammonium salts, and it reduced pollution output and treatment time.

Friday, 15 September 2017

'Shoe rapist' who kept 126 pairs of victims' stilettos as trophies hid behind mask of respectability in double-life

James Lloyd repeatedly assaulted lone women in 'meticulously planned sex attacks' - tying many up with their own tights - then took their shoes to store in his office

He escaped detection for around two decades, attacking and raping women before making off with a trophy from his appalling crimes.

To the general public James Lloyd was a respectable businessman, the owner of a printing firm and a freemason.

But Lloyd led a double life. He repeatedly attacked lone women, tying them up with their tights and stockings before raping them - then taking their stilettos to store in his office.

When he was finally rumbled, Lloyd had 126 pairs of ladies shoes. He was convicted of four rapes and two attempted rapes - but police believe the true number of his victims could be much higher.

And, as a serial rapist whose attacks were concentrated around the Rotherham, it is believed he may have meticulously planned each assault - even doing a reconnoitre of the site where he would drag young women into bushes, trees and grassy areas and rape them.

Former Detective Inspector Angela Wright, the police officer who eventually snared Lloyd with the help of improved forensic techniques when the case was re-opened, said: "The more crimes he committed the more violent he got."

Lloyd was eventually snared after DNA profiling brought his sister, who had once been arrested for drink driving, to the attention of police. When she contacted Lloyd to say police had been asking about him he rushed home and tried to kill himself - and the crimes he had hidden for 17 years began to be exposed.

She added: "When he got taken into the ambulance, he said 'Look ive been a b***** 20 years ago."

But Angela insists at this point, with Lloyd confessing to just one rape, they were looking for the shoes to prove he was the shoe rapist who had left women terrified to go out in the 1980s.

"We went to search his property and his house," added Angela. "In his garage he had some high heeled shoes but they looked as if they had been bought from a website for fetishes. They were not shoes that a woman could possibly wear.

"He certainly had a horrendous fetish for high heels. I spent many hours watching videos of what he did with them. It was clear to me that offences stopped because he had got married and he was living out fantasies with his wife."

But it was a chance comment by his wife, that Lloyd spent lots of time at the printing firm he ran, which led police there. Hitting another blank, officers questioned workers who revealed Lloyd spent a lot of time in the office above and didn't like other people going up there.

Police searched the office and found more than 100 pairs of shoes. They also found stockings and tights - the items used by Lloyd to tie up his victims.

Angela said: "We found hundreds of pairs of shoes. I just remember them bringing these shoes down. It was marvellous. I knew then we had our man.

"It was just so many, really really high heels and they had obviously been worn and they did belong to someone at one point. It was quite clear to me there were more victims than had come forward.

"He showed no remorse. He was an individual that just lived in a facade."

Lloyd attacked the women in the Rotherham and Barnsley areas of South Yorkshire between 1983 and 1986. He targeted females between the age of 18 to 54.

Taking advantage of the party atmosphere of the town at the time, he preyed on lone women in high heels walking home after a night out with friends, dragging them to isolated locations to rape them.

Author Peter James, who has been inspired to write his latest novel Dead Like You by the story of the Rotherham Shoe Rapist, said: "If you look at any serial offender whether a serial killer or a serial sex offender they tend to be people who are quite intelligent.

"He would probably have meticulously planned each time. I would imagine he would have come here, and reccied it, perhaps many times."

Lloyd hid from his crimes behind a facade of respectability. He was a freemason and manager of a very large printing works in Rotherham and was known as a workaholic, who would often work weekends. He then went on to marry and have two children, halting his campaign of raping lone women.

But it was his obsession with shoes that was his undoing.

Peter added: "A classic pillar of the community which is so often the mask that people use.

"Serious offenders would have some weak spot. That was his, he couldn't bear to let go of these offences.
"If his sister had never been caught for drink driving he would probably be a free man today."

The crimes began on one Saturday evening in February 1983, when a woman was attacked as she made her way home by a man who dragged her onto the grass and tried to rape her This was the beginning of Lloyd's trophy taking - as her attacker would take her shoes and her handbag.

The next attack took place near Barnsley in December that year, and the victim was raped at knifepoint - just 10 months after the first attack.

Then in October 1984 he tried to rape another woman in Rotherham, and a week later raped another female in the area.

Both had had their shoes taken after the attack.

Two more attacks then took place - one in December in Barnsley. And in August 1986 another woman was attacked in Swinton.

At a number of the attacks the victims' handbags and jewellery were taken - and each time their shoes.

But police continued to hit a brick wall as they searched for the rapist.

Former Detective Constable David Buxton said they were restricted by the lack of available techniques at the time - having no DNA or CCTV evidence - or social networks or mobile phones that could give clues.

He said: "At that time the techniques that would have been available were fibre transference, comparison of hairs. Blood grouping - we needed to have a suspect to compare with the items recovered from the scene and the victim. But of course we didn't have a suspect."

As more incidents took place, they began to focus on the bizarre habit of taking shoes as trophies.

David Buxton added: "We began to consider, were the shoes taken just to slow the lady down, for example to stop her escaping? Or were they taken for some other purpose?"

Police used a de-coy to try and snare the rapist - a woman wandering along alone in heels - but the ruse did not work.

They then spoke to victims to try and create a photo-fit of the attacker's face which was released to the media - but still he was not found.

After a wave of attacks that left women in the area living in fear the serial rapist suddenly and inexplicably stopped.

For 17 years Lloyd walked free - having got away with the horrific sex attacks he carried out.

It was not until 2002 when South Yorkshire Police decided to re-open the case and see if forensic science could help solve it.

Lisa Balfour, DNA expert, worked on the case and managed to get some DNA of the offender from semen samples left on the victims. But when this was compared with the database no match was found.

However they did extend this, running the DNA from the offender through the database to look at relatives who may be on there after being arrested. Related people share around 13 characteristics of DNA, so there was a chance that this could lead to the rapist.

Officers started to speak to a handful of people who 'might' have been related and the third house they tried was a woman who turned out to be Lloyd's sister.

She told officers her brother was a 'respectable businessman' but phoned him to inform him about the police investigation.

Betraying his guilt, Lloyd raced home and tried to hang himself in his garage - only to be found and rescued by his young son as he returned home from school. He was arrested in 2006 - more than 20 years after the first attack.
In a court hearing Lloyd admitted to raping four women and attempting to rape a further two. In 2006 he was given an indeterminate sentence and ordered to spend at least 15 years in prison.

Lloyd went on to serve just seven years in prison, after the Court of Appeal reduced his prison sentence.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Zero-Cruelty, Lab-Grown Leather Is Almost Here!

In 2008 I peered outside the window of a fabric shop perched high atop a building in Fez’s medina, one of the world’s largest car-free zones. Before the sight came the stench, dozens of industrial vats filled with dyes, lithe Moroccans scurrying between giant buckets tending to the leather the colors are destined for.

Leather is a popular item in the medina, as it is around the world. Producing it is also environmentally costly: chemicals used at the tannery, air pollution in the forms of hydrogen sulfide and ammonia, and cattle rearing. The process is physically dangerous for workers. Waste water is noxious, as evidenced by the surrounding pits in Fez. While leather might feel good and fit well, it takes up to 40 years to decompose, with some of the materials involved in the production process staying around for up to 500 years.

Yet we love leather, so much so that we spend $100 billion every year on a wide range of products. Not all manufacturing facilities are as primitive as the one I gazed down upon, though the environmental impacts above, especially related to the cattle industry, remain relevant.

Faux leather is its own industry, and while the texture and smell—the final product scent, not the production odor—is nowhere near genuine leather, imitations are getting better. I have a Brooklyn Industries wallet that slides across my fingertips as smoothly as leather wallets I've owned. Durable, too. At five years old it looks and feels new.

There are numerous types of faux leathers. Poromeric imitation leather is made by placing polyurethane over polyester. Leatherette involves covering a fabric base with soft PVC. There’s ocean leather, made from kelp; Pinatex, from pineapple leaves; cork leather, from cork oak bark. None of these mimic proper texture or feel. Plus, let’s face it: most humans choose an emotional connection over environmental impact. Not a happy reality, but the truth.

Earlier this year I wrote about innovations in lab-grown meat that could be a true game-changer. Ethical eaters will have an opportunity to dine on actual meat without any animal suffering, while carnivores will remain unaware anything has changed. The price point for such a burger is not yet market-ready, but it appears that day will soon arrive.

Modern Meadow believes leather is a “co-product of the meat industry.” You can’t get cattle hide without stripping it from meat. Rather than configuring new ways to utilize polymers, the Brooklyn-based company genetically creates proteins similar to bovine collagen. As Inventionr reports:

Modern Meadow has formulated a method of activating the building blocks of proteins to form fibres without using natural fibroblasts. Once the fibres form, they can as well be assembled, according to its intended purposes, into fine sheets of leather. Once the process reaches this point, other processes like tanning and dyeing can proceed in the normal way.

Environmental impact is only aspect of this story. Natural leather is notoriously finicky. Now it can be produced in straight sheets, making production easier for whoever is going to work the leather. Engineers can even alter the composition within each sheet, making one part coarse and another soft, for example.

Modern Meadow’s co-founder, Andras Forgacs, has previously applied such a mindset when co-founding Organovo, which commercialized a 3D bioprinting process for the production of human tissue. His latest company uses biofabrication to create leather from living cells without the need of animals.

While the company does not intend to overthrow the leather industry, CCO Suzanne Lee believes the possibility of creating entirely new products is in sight:

If you’re not bound by the animal, then you can construct it in the way you want. Collagen really is the material we’re producing – we can form it in new ways and create leathers that couldn’t exist in nature.

The public will find out how close they’ve come when Modern Meadows debuts a t-shirt in New York in October. There will probably always be a segment of the population demanding the “real thing,” but you can't get much realer than collagen. And if that saves lives and reduces pollution, this future is worth investing in.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Footwear stocks on a tear as high sales hopes soar

Footwear stocks rallied Monday on expectation that their valuations would get rerated after the forthcoming IPO of Khadim India. The Kolkata-based Khadim plans to raise about Rs 600 crore in October.

RLiberty ShoesBSE 11.42 % gained 20 per cent, Mirza InternationalBSE -0.11 % 8 per cent, and RelaxoBSE 0.15 % Footwear and Bata IndiaBSE -0.29 % 3 per cent each. Analysts say footwear stocks will build on their gains this year because of increasing demand for branded shoes, GST benefits and a fall in raw material prices. Investor Porinju Veliyath bought about 4.5 lakh shares of Liberty Shoes Monday .Here is what analysts are saying on footwear stocks:


The stock is trading at 45 times its FY 2018 estimated earnings. While giving a target price of Rs 610, Akhil Parekh, analyst at Nirmal Bang, said that the company could clock revenues, EBITDA and PAT CAGR of 11 per cent, 21 per cent and 21 per cent respectively, over FY 2017-FY19.


Most analysts tracking the company are bullish on the stock, although the management has recently told investors that FY18 exports revenue may be flat or witness a marginal decline.Ankit Kedia, analyst, CentrumBSE 1.37 % said:"We maintain our buy rating on the stock with a target price of Rs 205."


The company is strengthening its pan-India presence and added 10 new outlets in Q1 FY2017. Akanksha Tripathi, analyst, BOB Capital Market said: "We maintain our BUY rating on the stock, with the target price of Rs 290."


Despite demonetisation and a general economic slowdown, Relaxo has been able to sustain its profits. "New product development is the key driver of its consistent growth," said Sachin Bobade, analyst, Dolat Capital.

Monday, 11 September 2017

Philippines wants footwear in preferential trade with US

The Philippines is seeking to include footwear in the agreement on General System of Preferences (GSP) with the United States, the Department of Trade and Industry said Monday.

"Sana madagdagan pa, ma-enhance 'yung GSP. Hopefully, we can include footwear," Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez told reporters in Pasay City.

The GSP program eliminated tariffs on around 5,000 products from US trading partners such as the Philippines, but not for textiles, apparel, and footwear.

Trade Undersecretary Ceferino Rodolfo noted the tariff on footwear shipped from the Philippines to the United States are up to 15 percent.

"It's not just the Philippines advocating for this but also US buyers," he said, noting the US is one of the top markets for Philippine footwear.

"It's one of the more important sectors doon sa US," he added.

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