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VDL to take tough stance on misleading use of ‘leather’ on labels

The German Leather Federation (VDL) has announced a new approach in tackling misuse of the term ‘leather’ by finished product manufacturers.

It announced in mid-June that it had begun sending warning letters and formal cease-and-desist notifications to companies claiming falsely that their products contain leather.

VDL said at the time that the issue is widespread but that it affects upholstery and accessory applications rather than footwear because the product-labelling standards in place in the footwear industry in Germany and throughout Europe are firmly established and work well.

To satisfy labelling requirements in Germany, the term ‘leather’ or ‘real leather’ may only be used for materials manufactured from animal hide or skin by tanning, while preserving the fibres in their natural network.

According to VDL, “misleading use” of the term has “spread deliberately and aggressively” in clear breach of the law. “There seem to be no limits to fantasy in creating terms describing materials that are simply coated textiles and other synthetics,” the organisation said at the time of the announcement. It added that it is now actively tracking “these misleading infringements” in all media.

While VDL’s efforts apply only to Germany, the organisation paid tribute to COTANCE’s work in attempting to put in place across the European Union regulations like footwear’s for other products that use leather. “For reasons not comprehensible to the industry, the European Commission has so far held back from taking action,” VDL said.

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