The Non-Leather Products Market size is forecast to reach US$365.3 billion by 2027 after growing at a CAGR of 5.1% during the forecast period 2022-2027. Artificial leather is also known as synthetic leather, faux leather, leatherette, or vegan leather. It is an eco-friendly, animal-friendly, and cruelty-free product. It is made from a variety of different materials such as polyvinyl chloride, glazed cotton, cork, silicone rubber, polyurethane, etc. Being a replacement for animal leather, it is used to make jackets, seat covers, luggage bags, purses, wallets, sofas, and a host of other materials. Organizations such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) are working towards banning animal leather. Increasing awareness coupled with consumers opting for vegan leather is driving the non-leather products market.
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted every industry including the fashion industry is no exception. Due to lockdown and stay-at-home mandates, manufacturing plants and stores were shut. Travel bans and border closures led to supply chain disruptions and delays in procuring raw material which has led to orders being canceled. According to the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers Exporters Association (BGMEA), there has been $3.18 billion in canceled or suspended orders, equivalent to 982 million pieces. Since the outbreak, fashion brands have stopped taking deliveries as workers were not available while clothing was piling up in warehouses during the lockdown. Brands such as Brooks Brothers, Tailored Brands, Lucky Brand, JC Penny, and ALDO have filed for bankruptcy in the wake of the pandemic. Hence, COVID-19 had a significant impact on the fashion industry and on the non-leather products industry.
Non-leather Products Market Segment Analysis – By Type
The bio-based leather segment held a significant share in the non-leather products market in 2021. Bio-based leather replaces animal-derived leather and is composed of natural polymers and plant-based materials that are widely available. Bio-based leather is renewable. It can also be made from fungi or by-products of the food industry. Several companies have switched to bio-based leather. Ananas Anam, a British company, introduced a plant-based leather alternative called Piñatex that makes use of fibers derived from pineapple leaves, which are sourced from a plantation in the Philippines where they would otherwise be burned or left to rot. Bolt Threads, a US biotechnology company, introduced Mylo, bio leather created from mycelium. Major luxury brands such as Stella McCartney and Gucci have invested in upscaling the production of the material. Beyond Leather, a Danish company, combined leftovers from apple juice and cider production with natural rubber to create a plant-based leather alternative called Leap. With all these developments, the demand for bio-based leather is set to grow during the forecast period.
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Non-leather Products Market Segment Analysis – By Application
The footwear segment held the largest share in the non-leather products market up to 25% in 2021. According to Invest India, the global footwear market size is valued at US$365.5 billion in 2020 and is estimated to reach US$530.3 billion by 2027 with a CAGR of 5.5%. Leather is being consistently replaced by non-leather material due to increasing awareness about sustainability. And the footwear industry is no exception. Being such a huge market in itself, the demand for non-leather footwear is growing. According to the Confederation of Indian Footwear Industries (CIFI), worldwide 86% of footwear in terms of volume consumed is non- leather. Non-leather materials replace animal-based leather in insoles, shoe linings, and shoe uppers and are used to make formal shoes, sports shoes, boots, sandals, and various other types of footwear. Global footwear manufacturers are supporting the trend of switching to non-leather footwear. For instance, in 2020, Adidas, the German footwear major, launched vegan leather shoes made from mycelium. In June 2021, Gucci launched a brand-new range of footwear made from bio-based synthetic leather derived from wood pulp. Thus, the footwear segment is anticipated to continue its dominance over the non-leather products market.
Non-leather Products Market Segment Analysis – By Geography
The Asia-Pacific region held the largest share in the non-leather products market in 2021 up to 45% owing to the footwear and automotive industries. According to the Council for Leather Exports, India is the second-largest global producer of footwear after China, accounting for 11.63% of global footwear production of 17.7 billion pairs. India produces 2065 million pairs of different categories of footwear. According to Invest India, the footwear industry in India contributes about 2% to India’s overall GDP. There is also a renewed focus on the non-leather footwear segment around the world. In worldwide consumption terms, 86% of global footwear consumption has become non-leather by volume. Many foreign companies such as Apache and Feng Tay have set up production of non-leather footwear in India. According to data from Bangladesh’s Export Promotion Bureau (EPB), export of synthetic footwear registered an average annual growth rate of about 20% in the past five years even as during the July-October period of FY2021, non-leather footwear shipments bagged US$133.49 million in export earnings, up by around 4% compared to US$127.92 million during the same period of FY 2020. Owing to the flourishing footwear industry, this region is set to dominate the non-leather products market during the forecast period.
Non-leather Products Market Drivers
Problems Associated with Animal-Derived Leather
Leather production requires tanning. Animal skin needs to be preserved, otherwise, leather would rot. Tanning is deemed the most toxic phase of leather production. Tanning results in the release of harmful chemicals, including mineral salts, formaldehyde, and coal-tar derivatives that end up polluting waterways and causing acute health damage to tannery workers as a result of long-term exposure. The process of preserving leather doesn’t just harm the environment, a staggering 90% of workers in the Bangladeshi tannery industry die before the age of 50 because of their exposure to these toxic chemicals. According to the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), every year the global leather industry slaughters more than a billion animals to produce leather wallets, bags, belts, jackets, etc. Owing to PETA’s tireless campaign, several fashion brands have banned exotic skins. Thus, the problems associated with animal-based leather are driving the adoption of non-leather products.
Increasing Usage of Non-Leather in the Automotive Industry
Leather is associated with quality and durability in luxury cars. It is expensive, not only in monetary terms but also in its cost to the planet. Animal agriculture, which includes leather and wool production, accounts for 14.5% of global greenhouse emissions according to UN estimates. Automotive manufacturers now offer sustainable, animal-product-free alternatives in their vehicles in response to consumer demand. In July 2021, BMW iVentures, the venture capital arm of BWM Group, invested in a sustainable materials company, Natural Fiber Welding, that produces biodegradable vegan leather. Volvo announced that all of its cars would be completely leather-free by 2030. Volkswagen uses AppleSkin leather, a bio-based leather-style fabric derived from waste apple skins from juice production. In January 2022, Mercedes-Benz announced that the VISION EQXX electric car’s interior features vegan leather made from prickly-pear cactus and mushrooms’ root systems. Thus, the automotive industry drives the non-leather products market.
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Non-leather Products Market Challenges
Concerns Regarding PU leather and PVC leather
Polyurethane (PU) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) are used to make faux leather or synthetic leather. Despite being cheaper, stain-resistant, and UV resistant faux leather has certain disadvantages compared to animal-based leather. PU leather and PVC leather have a distinct plastic or chemical smell. The plastics used to make faux leather products are petrochemical-based, which are non-biodegradable and not eco-friendly. Many of these products cannot be recycled either. Faux leather made out of PVC is known to be potentially harmful. During the process of creating PVC faux leather, the material’s main components are released into the air and become pollutants. Faux leather also leaks toxic chemicals into the ground when placed in landfills, and emits toxic gases when burned in an incinerator. Along with synthetic leather’s environmental disadvantages, durability is also a concern. Such concerns associated with PU leather and PVC leather may prove to be a challenge for the non-leather products market.
Non-leather Products Industry Outlook
Product launches, acquisitions, and R&D activities are key strategies adopted by players in this market. Non-leather products top 10 companies include:
In September 2021, Teijin Cordley Limited, the Teijin Frontier Group’s high-grade artificial leather business, announced that it has developed a new antibacterial and antiviral artificial leather incorporating a long-lasting antibacterial agent.
In August 2021, Ananas Anam Ltd. entered a partnership with Dole Sunshine Company to access a much larger volume of pineapple fibres, to meet the increasing demand of Pinatex.
In March 2021, Stella McCartney, a leading designer teamed up with California-based Bold Threads, to design sustainable clothing using a leathery fabric made from the root system of fungi.
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Asia-Pacific dominates the non-leather products market on account of the footwear industry. According to India Brand Equity Foundation, India is the second-largest consumer of footwear in the world.
Artificial leather, vegan leather, or synthetic leather is a substitute for animal-derived leather in wallets, jackets, sofas, luggage bags, purses, shoes, and other uses.
Vegan leather can be made from a variety of different materials such as glazed cotton, cork, silicone rubber, polyvinyl chloride, polyurethane, etc.
The major opportunity for this market is high research spending and awareness regarding bio-based leather produced from plant and food waste.
A. Leather Chemicals Market
B. Textile Chemicals Market
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