An initiative to help reposition leather as a high quality, environmentally friendly and sustainable product - as well as educate designers and consumers about the material's benefits - continues to gain momentum, with a working group this week set to take over the reins of the campaign.

The move, which was announced today (28 March) at the opening of the Materials Manufacturing & Technology (MM&T) and Fashion Access trade shows in Hong Kong, comes two years after the campaign, called Leather Naturally, was launched at the same event.

"There is a need to protect our valuable raw material and properly educate everyone in the supply chain about this," explains consultant Mike Redwood, who is leading the campaign.

"The industry has to stand up for itself," he adds. "We believe leather, properly produced with good effluent treatment, is a sustainable product."

The initiative is being driven by stakeholders in the leather supply chain in response to concerns that suppliers of man-made materials are increasingly using the word 'leather' in naming their products. They are also hoping to defend leather against misconceptions about its environmental impact.

Asia-Pacific Leather Fair (APLF), which organises the two events as well as the Prime Source Forum meeting of apparel industry executives, is acting as an 'incubator' for the trademark," APLF director Michael Duck explains, adding: "Everyone from primary producers to retailers are all stakeholders in the initiative."

Membership to the campaign is available to individual companies at an annual subscription rate, which is seen as crucial in building on its longevity.

Key founder members in the Leather Naturally initiative are due to meet tomorrow to initiate the first year's programme and hand over to a small working group. They will take ownership of the material and its development and dissemination going forward.