Footwear label Ecco has unveiled its latest step in its sustainability mission in Australia, after a five-year development process.
The business has launched its water-saving leather tanning technology 'DriTan' in its tanneries across the globe.
DriTan works by using the inherent moisture from within the hide to power the main tanning process.
Using this technology, Ecco Leather at its tannery in the Netherlands saves 20 litres of water per hide, equal to 25 million litres of water annually.
The result is indistinguishable from traditionally tanned leather in terms of quality, characteristics, stability and lead-time, alongside a significant reduction in water consumption.
The process also helps to reduce wastewater as well as a reduction in the use of stabilising acids and additives.
Launching this technology into the Australian market, Ecco’s Soft 8 sneaker has been reinvented and constructed from full-grain DriTan leather.
Ecco head of applied research Thomas Gøgsig said that the DriTan technology is the answer to a simple question the business asked itself.
"Covering both tanning and shoemaking, Ecco is in the perfect position to make the first step in developing a more sustainable tanning process.
"Our starting point was the very fundamental question: How can we tan without water in a world of increasing water scarcity and is it even possible?
"Five years of research and development later, Ecco has the proof that it is possible to minimise the amount of water considerably.
"It took a lot of research, investment and manpower – a strong cocktail of science, know-how and traditional craft.
"But the biggest challenge was in opening our eyes.
"Tanning is a very old and traditional industry, so people tend to forget to ask: can it be done differently?," he said.
Gøgsig added that the business will monitor the roll-out process and will explore ways to share DriTan with the wider industry.
"We hope to find ways to share the new technology with our partners and the industry worldwide. But first, we must learn from how it unrolls in-house.
"In fact, DriTan is just the first step in our ambitious scheme to make the entire leather manufacturing process water-free," he said.
The DriTan Soft 8 men's and women's collections are available in-store and online now and retail for between $269 - $279.