News-Releases Index | ECCO Leather
Apparition, world’s first soft transparent cow-skin leather (4/19/17)
The quest for transparent leather has long eluded both tanners and designers. While transparency was previously possible with the significantly smaller hides of goats and sheep, and while some designers made some concepts in the past with these hides, there was one big problem: while you could see through it, the leather was hard like parchment. And it couldn’t get wet. Ever.
A small team of innovators within ECCO leather worked for 3 years studying old Egyptian and Greek tanning techniques. By combining these with modern industrial applications they reached a break through.
The result is a soft, transparent cow-skin leather – pliable, strong and easily workable which protects from water. Available in a range of rich and controlled colours, this revolutionary new material is now ready to be used in anything from bags to shoes and from jackets to shirts.
“The technique of keeping the leather soft, is obviously a trade secret,” says Sruli Recht, creative director and lead of the ECCO Leather project. “It came out of the challenge of rethinking leather aesthetics in terms of both visual and touch properties. We asked ourselves: ‘What would be the Holy Grail of leather?’ I would say it would be creating a futuristic material that still maintains the properties that we know, love, and require from leather. So the aim became translucent leather. We have been deeply inspired by what other designers and tanneries have achieved in the realm of transparent and translucent leathers over recent years. But our aim was to identify concrete ways we could combine our deep tanning experience with the significant horsepower of our state-of-the-art R&D facility in the Netherlands to push the technology forward, solving practical issues that have eluded the industry up-to-now like lasting pliability and the ability to get wet.”
Named Apparition for its spectral qualities and almost ghostlike appearance, the leather was then applied to the design of garments and shoes. “The process after creating a new material, a new class of leather even, is to develop it into objects and show what it can do, and then present it as a narrative: how it moves, how it flows, how it bends, how it feels,” says Recht.
The resulting video and images (see links below) reflect how “Apparition is such a fascinating and amazingly innovative material to work with,” says Recht. While the specially designed garments and shoes are based on natural amber, transparent green, black, brown-orange, bone and blood red, any colour is theoretically possible.
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