A Q&A with SPOOR on our partnership for a transparent Leather Supply Chain

The demand for sustainable and traceable leather is on the rise. The industry is working hard to develop a more responsible supply chain.

OEKO-TEX® has been contributing to responsible leather for years. OEKO-TEX® LEATHER STANDARD is an internationally standardized testing and certification system for leather at all production levels

This product certification protects people from harmful substances. OEKO-TEX® STeP verifies that production facilities are protecting workers and the planet. The traceable OEKO-TEX® MADE IN GREEN label combines these rigorous certifications to bring transparency to the entire supply chain.

SPOOR, part of the Danish tannery Scan-Hide, is responding to the movement by making data transparent and providing insights. They guarantee full traceability for a leather product's animal welfare and craftsmanship back to birth and farm.

SPOOR and OEKO-TEX® saw synergies in each other’s commitment and have created a partnership. We interviewed Birgitte H. Langer, Business Development Director at SPOOR about this collaboration for more traceability and sustainability in the leather supply chain.

OT: Why is sustainability such an important topic for SPOOR? What drives you?

BL: Sustainability in a broad sense is our navigation star strategically — lifting the bar for ourselves and implicitly the industry we are a part of. How can we contribute to a better and more sustainable tomorrow? I guess we all need to start there. What can I and WE do to contribute to this mission? More and more brands strive after finding more sustainable solutions, and traceability is enabling brands to claim and document sustainable efforts. On that note, we can deliver 100% traceable leather and data back to single animal and birth level.

“Consumers will increasingly demand transparency in the future.”

OT: Why is traceability of the leather production so important? What are the main challenges in the industry?

BL: There are quite a lot of definitions of traceability. Nevertheless, we wanted to contribute with our definition, which is back to single animal and birth. Consumers will increasingly demand transparency in the future. And especially since our raw material has lived a life before it becomes a bag or a chair, we need to be even more open and transparent about it. Some of the brands I have been in dialogue with have mentioned that our SPOOR traceability and documentation is one of the reasons why they don’t investigate leather alternatives.

“Co-creation with all stakeholders in the value chain is a must to create change.”

OT: How can 100% visibility of the supply chain be ensured? What is the process?

BL: Valid data, trust and collaboration are needed. It requires that each link in the value chain has valid data and documentation and is transparent, and to achieve that we need trust. Therefore, close collaboration is paramount. For leather, that means that there needs to be dialogue between all the stakeholders who are engaged in the supply chain. It starts with the farmer the moment the animal is born and includes everyone who is engaged in the journey to transform the animal’s hide into a finished product.

64% of the consumers have scanned the code on their shoes.

OT: Since adding a QR code to products, have you seen any interest from consumers in the origin of the leather? Or do you see this more as a tool for marketing and improving efficiencies and quality in a supply chain?

BL: We know for a fact from our collaboration with Roccamore, who chose to include a QR-code in the shoe collection we co-created, that 64% of the consumers who purchased a pair of shoes have scanned the code several times and on average they spent around one minute on the site reading about traceability, provenance, animal welfare and biodiversity. Considering that some studies argue that the human attention span has dropped to a matter of seconds, one minute is a significant amount of time. This indicates that consumers have interest in knowing where their products come from. We are witnessing a shift towards more conscious consumption, and a recent IBM study shows that consumers across all age groups do extensive research online before making a purchasing decision. As a result, leveraging technology to demonstrate traceability is a useful way for brands to document and present consumers with the efforts they are making to take a greater responsibility in creating a better sustainable tomorrow.

“Partnership with OEKO-TEX® is an important milestone.”

OT: What do you envision for SPOOR and OEKO-TEX®?

BL: Co-creation is the main essence of SPOOR’s existence and how we want to manage our mission. We know we can’t do everything on our own — however, together with other knowledgeable and passionate stakeholders in our ecosystem who share the same, we can do A LOT. Our partnership with OEKO-TEX® is an important milestone on our journey and a recognition and validation of our unique data chains and technology. We possess all data points from birth of the cattle to tannery level. OEKO-TEX® holds all information from tannery level to end product — and together we have created something unique which did not exist yesterday — for the benefit of the end consumers!

Of course, we hope and believe brands will find this traceability and transparency solution and certification attractive. And that we will be able to unfold and share it with a lot of conscious brands going forth.