Rising Leather Prices Hit the Fashion Industry

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Photo: Imaxtree
A leather look on the Hermès Fall 2011 runway

The increase in cotton prices isn’t the only obstacle fashion brands will have to face in the immediate future: Sparked by a drop in supply, leather costs have made a dramatic jump.

According to the Wall Street Journal, cattle-hide prices are at their highest level in almost a decade, having jumped 24 percent in the last year. The U.S., which ranks third in annual hide production (China is first, followed by Brazil), has seen demand increase and supplies shrink.

Exotic skins are also in higher demand these days, which the Wall Street Journal chalks up to a “rebound in high-end consumption.”

“What worries us the most are increases in primary materials to come, notably for exotic skins, with high increases expected for crocodile, around 25 percent,” said Patrick Thomas, CEO of Hermès—a company that showed a particularly leather-heavy collection for Fall 2011.

Salvatore Ferragamo is also dealing with the increase, though CEO Michele Norsa told the Wall Street Journal it shouldn’t be a problem since the company’s bags are made of leather and fabric.

Meanwhile, Tod's brand manager Claudio Castiglioni noted that prices are increasing across the board. “There is a rise in the costs of primary materials such as leather, wool, leather and silk among the global commodities boom and financial crisis,” he said.

Get the full story from WSJ.com.