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Key Facts & Trends in the U.S. Leather Industry

Posted by IndustrySelect on Monday, May 6, 2024

 Key Facts & Statistics on the U.S. Leather Products Manufacturing Industry

From fashion accessories to car interiors, leather remains a popular material for many items due to its durability and reputation for quality. Even though we often associate leather with timeless style, the leather industry is undergoing significant changes.

Key Facts and Statistics on U.S. Leather Manufacturers

With a total of 948 companies, the U.S. leather industry is a relatively small and specialized field that employs over 50,000 people, according to data collected by MNI, compiler and publisher of the industrial business profiles that power IndustrySelect. Compared to last year, employment has increased by 0.89%, a percentage that suggests sustainable growth.

Reach 900+ U.S. Leather Manufacturers and their 2,100+ executives with the Leather & Leather Products Industrial Database.

The industry as a whole had a strong year with $21 billion in average sales. Most of these sales took place in the U.S. Only 14% of manufacturers are selling leather goods abroad, a percentage that is approximately half as high as the total number of U.S. manufacturers relying on exports.

Leather goods manufacturers are also far more likely to import raw materials than those in other industries. While 11% of all manufacturers import raw materials, this percentage jumps to 49% for those in the leather industry. Importing cattle hides from Asia and Europe is a popular procurement strategy for cutting costs or offering a wider selection of products.

Ownership trends align with the manufacturing sector as a whole, with women owning only 2% of these businesses and minorities only 1%.

Data from MNI also reveals that leather goods manufacturers are less likely to be public companies, with only 3% of businesses falling into this category.

Geographic distribution is equally distributed across the U.S., with 28% of companies operating in the south, 27% in the west, 23% in the northeast, and 22% in the midwest.

Leather Manufacturing Subindustries

The leather industry can be broken down into subcategories, but you should remember that many of these companies produce more than one type of leather goods.

Leather Goods

Leather goods comprise a broad category. Included are fashion accessories, sporting goods, vehicle interiors, and more.

Leather Footwear

The footwear industry has a strong demand for specialty products, ranging from full-grain leather to suede leather or nubuck leather.

Leather Gloves and Mittens

Leather gloves and mittens are popular fashion accessories. Consumers typically look for style, comfort, and quality.

Leather Luggage

Travelers seeking a luxury product often invest in leather luggage sets designed to last a lifetime.

Leather Handbags

Leather handbags are a timeless fashion staple. Handbags are a diverse subindustry in which you'll find luxury brands as well as budget-friendly options.

Leather Tanning & Finishing

Some manufacturers sell processed hides to businesses and artisans who specialize in designing and creating finished products.

Latest Trends and Outlook for the U.S. Leather Industry

The U.S. leather industry is entering a transformative stage where businesses willing to leverage technology and sustainable practices can gain a competitive edge while connecting with younger consumers.

Growth Predictions

On a global scale, the leather industry could grow at a CAGR of 3.87% between 2024 and 2028. Experts believe that the U.S. will remain the largest market for these products.

The global fashion industry could grow at a rate of 2 to 4% in the next several years, but luxury goods will represent the largest share of this growth, giving leather goods makers an advantage.

International Competition

Data from MNI found that international distribution isn't a strategy leather goods manufacturers are likely to embrace, as there is sufficient demand in the U.S. market. However, foreign manufacturers also have a strong presence here.

China is a major exporter of leather goods, followed by European countries like Italy and France. Imports can appeal to consumers who are looking for a lower price point, but European leather goods also have a reputation for quality that rivals U.S. luxury products.

Technological Advances

Like in any other manufacturing sector, technology is transforming the leather industry. Early adopters can gain a competitive edge by building more streamlined and cost-effective processes that adapt to consumers' expectations with more flexibility.

Here are some of the key changes you should know about:

● Chromium salts are the most common material used in the tanning process, but a growing number of manufacturers are exploring biodegradable alternatives.
● Computer-aided design and generative AI are transforming the design process, allowing creatives to develop innovative products faster.
● These technologies are also opening up new possibilities in terms of customization and made-to-order products by putting design capabilities into the hands of consumers.
● Blockchain technology could transform the supply chain and allow manufacturers to track cattle hides more accurately for transparent sourcing.
● 3D printing is already making leather imprints more accessible, but future use cases could include 3D printing entire products with leather.

The Push for Sustainability

Consumers are increasingly considering environmental issues when making purchase decisions. As a result, innovative manufacturers are embracing new values that focus on sustainability and transparency.

This sustainable approach also allows manufacturers to connect with the growing vegan niche, an audience segment that would otherwise not consider leather goods.

Lab-grown leather is a groundbreaking technique that uses stem cells to grow animal skin. This process is much faster and more cost-effective than processing cattle hides.

Manufacturers are also exploring natural alternatives to create vegan leather, such as cork, mushroom, or recycled rubber. New competitors could appear on the market as these vegan alternatives grow in popularity, but we'll likely see established manufacturers expand their product catalog with these sustainable options.

Connect With Leather Manufacturers

Are you ready to reach out to leather goods manufacturers? IndustrySelect can help with detailed company profiles that include as many as 40 key data points. Thanks to our accurate contact information, you'll reach the right decision-makers and have access to everything you need to develop relevant messaging, including company size, location, advanced business classifications, and much more.

See for yourself how quality data can make a difference by signing up for a free demo account, loaded with 500 real company profiles, so you can test all the features of this powerful software!

 

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