Synthetic leather, also called artificial leather, substitutes leather in applications such as upholstery, clothing, footwear, and other areas where a leather-like finish is sought. Still, the actual material is too expensive or unsuitable. Leatherette, faux leather, imitation leather, vegan leather, PU leather, and pleather are used to describe artificial leather. Clothing textiles, furniture upholstery, watercraft upholstery, and vehicle interiors incorporate artificial leather. Some synthetic leathers require plastic, while others require plant-based components; artificial materials in artificial leather manufacture presents significant sustainability concerns.
The footwear industry has enjoyed significant growth due to rising demand from emerging markets, even if consumer spending in the United States and other European countries has slowed slightly due to the global recession. China, India, South Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, and other South Asian nations have all voiced a strong desire to participate. This will almost certainly significantly influence Asian demand for synthetic leather.
More foreign investment will boost industrial penetration in emerging economies over the forecast period. Luxury brands were the first to respond to the global shift in customer purchasing habits. Prada, for example, opened 27 new stores in Asia-Pacific in 2016, accounting for nearly 35% of the brand's total number of locations. Such activities are expected to play a critical role in increasing the market penetration of synthetic leather companies over the forecast period.
Animals are used to make natural leather, which necessitates animal killing. Various governments have enacted numerous policies and legislation to protect animal rights. Animal rights legislation has become a significant hurdle for natural leather manufacturers. Demand for leather substitutes has risen as public awareness of animal exploitation has grown, aided by programs sponsored by organizations like PETA. Due to a rising supply-demand mismatch in the natural leather industry.
Synthetic leather's lower manufacturing costs are another major factor driving its popularity. Synthetic leather is less expensive to make than natural leather, and the procedure is also more straightforward. As a result, there has been an increase in artificial leather investment, which will help market penetration. Natural leather manufacturing processes pollute the environment, notably tanning. The cost is another crucial aspect of the shift in demand for synthetic leather. Synthetic leather consumption has risen due to environmental legislation and government controls.
Synthetic leather made from bio-based materials has no harmful consequences. Synthetic leather created from natural fibers like flax or cotton coupled with palm, soybean, corn, and other plants should be the focus of manufacturers. Pineapple leaves are being utilized to create "Pinatex," a novel synthetic leather product. These leaves have a robust and flexible fiber that is perfect for use in the manufacturing process. Pineapple leaves are considered a waste product; thus, they're used to make valuable something without using many resources.
Handbags, shoes, and other things made of pineapple fiber have already hit the market. Bio-based synthetic leather could be an ample opportunity for artificial leather makers, given the expanding government and environmental restrictions in North America and the European Union against the use of harmful toxic chemicals. As a result, the development of bio-based synthetic leather will likely provide lucrative opportunities for established vital players to expand their innovative product portfolios and gain market dominance.
The leather industry was adversely affected by COVID-19, which presented opportunities for synthetic leather. According to the Financial Express, industry experts are quickly discovering that non-leather footwear exports should now be the focus because non-leather footwear types account for 86% of total footwear consumption. A group of household shoemakers arrived at this conclusion. Synthetic leather has recently been in high demand for beds and furniture in makeshift hospitals and healthcare institutions worldwide to aid patients with COVID-19 and other diseases.
For the global synthetic leather market, the post-pandemic period will be critical. Manufacturing operations may impede the recovery process, affecting market dynamics and product prices. Furthermore, the global market may face hurdles due to adverse financial conditions and rising expenses due to production halts and quarantine limitations. Limited manufacturing, support operations, labor shortages, and limits for other end-user sectors, suppliers, and vendors may also prevent consumers from getting what they want. Overall, the global synthetic leather market's recovery will be difficult.
North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, Central and South America, and the Middle East and Africa make up the market's five regions. Asia-Pacific and Europe are the two most important markets for synthetic leather, accounting for an estimated CAGR of 8.95% and 6.75%, respectively, during the forecast period. China has the most tempting market potential for market players, majorly driving the Asia-Pacific market out of all the regional countries.
The country is the largest leather user in key application categories such as automobiles, furniture, and clothes. In China, the automotive and footwear industries—essential application categories for synthetic leather—are flourishing. India, Korea, and Italy are China's leading artificial leather suppliers. Major market competitors focus on developing regions to meet expanding product demand and boost profitability. Over the forecast period, the widespread use of synthetic leather in luggage, boots, shoes, wallets, bags, and other consumer products is expected to drive the artificial leather market in Asia-Pacific.
Given the region's thriving automobile and consumer appliance industries, the synthetic leather market in Europe has seen tremendous expansion. Following the economic slump, governments in the region are focusing on bio-based, low-cost, and long-lasting products. This is expected to improve the demand for synthetic leather in this region.
Due to the saturation of major domestic fashion labels, the synthetic leather market in North America is likely to grow slowly. There have also been increasing worries from animal rights organizations such as PETA, WWF, and a few others, resulting in growth limits in the leather market. The demand for synthetic leather goods in the region has increased.
In Central and South America, the enormous indigenous raw material supply, ample stock supply from surrounding countries, extensive production of footwear and leather items, mainly travel accessories, and strong ties to the US leather market characterize the Brazilian leather market. This has offered good growth potential for the region's entire synthetic leather sector.
The Middle East and African synthetic leather market are expected to grow significantly over the forecast period. The industry will likely benefit from rising living standards and expanding the automobile and consumer goods industries.