The Aero group has established a brand name in the Canadian shoe industry since the early 50s. The main international trade by the Aero group during that time was exporting leather to the Soviet Union. The aero group decided to enter the Indian market in 1992 after the Soviet Union was dissolved and thus, the ‘Woodland’ was born.
Woodland had decided to sell its leather products in the Indian market. They introduced the first hand-stitched leather shoes in the Indian market. The shoes became a craze instantly.
Over the years ‘Woodland’ made its name for producing extremely durable shoes, which lasts for 5-6 years on average even with extreme usage. Needless to say, it still lives up to its reputation. This makes ‘Woodland‘, one of the most elite brands in the market. Although the brand dominates the shoe market, it is interesting to note that they caused an avalanche in the shoe market just with its wide range of boots. It was not until the late 90s and early 2000s when the company finally stepped into producing casual shoes. It is suffice to say that ‘Woodland’ is still known for its wide variety of durable boots.
Keeping up with the recent rising consciousness about the environmental impact of leather products, the company started an initiative known as Woodland ProPlanet to encourage the manufacture of 100% eco-friendly shoes with minimal damage to the environment. Woodland shoes gained fame with their leather shoes. However, now the use of leather is restricted to protect the animals. So, a common question arises if Woodland uses real leather to make its shoes.
Are the shoes made of leather?
Well, to be honest, yes.
Most of the Woodland shoes marketed as pure leather shoes are in fact made of real leather. But unlike the previous days, this leather is mainly made from cow bucks and sometimes even from duck bucks.
Apart from these small sources of real leather, Woodland mainly makes use of ‘organic leather’ in most of its products. Organic leather is something that is being increasingly used by many companies and brands to manufacture quality leather products.
Difference between organic and normal leather
At the outset, it might look different from the names, but there is not much difference between organic and normal leather. It is mainly a modern catchphrase coined to give an appearance of less savage methods being used to cultivate leather from the animal skins.
The term organic leather is defined, theoretically, as the leather obtained from the animals which are raised under humane conditions for their skin. It does not sound much different from the actual leather cultivation technique apart from the supposedly humane treatment of the animals, but there is no way to confirm the truthfulness of this.
Another difference between normal and organic leather is the tanning process. Organic leathers are tanned by using natural plant-based compounds and products while normal leathers are tanned by using chemical compounds.
The advantage of organic leather is that, it is far less harmful than normal leather due to the difference in the tanning process since most of the leather products, including shoes, frequently come in direct contact with our skin. In normal tanning processes, the amount of chemicals (mostly chromium) in the leather is very high. On the other hand, the amount is significantly lesser in organic leather so that the waste generated from the tanning process is also far less harmful to the environment.
Although, there is not much difference between both leather types and in both cases, animals are slaughtered solely for their skin, most of the reputed companies and brands including Woodland are opting for organic leather in order to decrease its toxic waste emission to have a more eco-friendly production process.
Although we are living in a socially aware era where any misconduct or cruelty against animals is dealt with harshly, Woodland has managed to survive through the storm and is still revered for its quality products. The main reason behind this is the innovation that Woodland brought into the Indian shoe market when it was first introduced.
Woodland may have started its business by selling leather shoes for gents. However, they soon changed the picture of the whole Indian shoe market when they stepped into the casual making business and started manufacturing ladies’ footwear made of leather. Above all this, the durability factor of the Woodland shoes has already garnered the brand an unshakeable reputation, which came along with an elite consumer base.
The main attraction of the Woodland brand is the fact that the shoes are very attractive and fashionable. They are also fully equipped for adventure purposes and extreme uses. Woodland has already carved a niche for itself owing to the durability of its various products.
Nowadays, there are widespread protests, not only in India but all over the world, to demand a curb on companies using and promoting the cultivation of leather for making accessories. Woodland has been the center of this debate for a long time, but there are many business and political factors that prevent the company or any other leather company for that matter to put a blanket ban on the use and cultivation of leather.
India is one of the leading exporters of leather in the world so that a major portion of the national GDP is accounted for by the leather industry. Most of the domestic leather cultivation farms also receive an annual subsidy from the government to help the production process. Since this is one of the major sources of national income, the chances are very slim that the government will move for a complete ban on the usage of leather.
Woodland is one of the biggest shoe brands all over the globe and boasts of an enormous consumer base in all major nations. Being an Indian company, the income earned by the brand brings in valuable foreign currency which is important for the government. Since leather cultivation is cheap in the country, the cost of production is significantly less than in any other nation and it provides Woodland products to be sold for high prices in the foreign nations.
Another major reason for the complications in introducing the ban is the issue of quality compromise. As mentioned earlier, one of the main attractions of the woodland brand has been its quality products and their durability. The durability of the shoes greatly suffers if the main material, i.e., leather is substituted by any other compound. This is a very risky on behalf of the company and suffices it to say that they are not willing to make it.
Despite of being guilty of using leather, Woodland is one of the few companies using the most advanced technology for manufacturing their products all over the globe. Their production process is well optimized to minimize the harmful impact on the environment. The major change in their production process is the utilization of plant-based natural tanning agents instead of using chemical compounds. The tanning agents used for the incorporate process may leave some of its molecules into the final product and it can be harmful for the user. Substituting the chemical agents with the natural ones is curbing any kind of health hazard posed by the final product.
Leather cultivation has been done for centuries now and they are used by many prominent shoes and accessory brands. Woodland is perhaps one of the biggest companies making leather products. The usage of leather is a very cruel practice towards the animals since they are raised and killed for their skin. To permanently stop this practice, many NGOs and societies are putting pressure on the big companies. But, leather cultivation and their use in shoe are one of the major sources of national income so that getting to stop them completely will be a tough feat to achieve. However, it should be noted that companies and brands like Woodland are taking the necessary steps and measures to develop their production process. Especially, Woodland has significantly brought down its animal leather usage level for the shoes and other accessories. The availability of pure leather products is also limited to special orders and some rare collections only. Despite of these efforts, there is still a considerable leather use now in the market. The main reason for this is the durability of the products made from leather. Still, there is no material that can be effectively substituted in the place of leather to provide the same quality and durability.
So, to conclude,
Yes, the Woodland shoes are made of actual leather. Although it is advertised as organic leather, it is still the animal leather. So, if you want durable and high-quality leather shoes from Woodland, you do not have to think twice before the purchase. Woodland always provides the highest quality leather in its products. However, if you feel too strongly against animal cruelty and using real leather products, then it’s better if you choose another brand apart from Woodland.