Pic Courtesy: SERA
Till a few years back, leather was considered to be a very rough material fit for use in the manufacture of footwear or bags in the country. However, with new technologies coming up in the field particularly in the area of leather tanning, leather has emerged to be a versatile product which can be given any form or shape. It is now being blended with various textiles and fabrics and machine embroidery too, with scintillating effects. The result is that country’s focus has moved from the export of raw materials to finished products.
According to Centre for Leather Exports, sponsored by Ministry of MSME, Government of India, the export of leather and leather products including non-leather footwear for the period April-August 2021 touched US $ 1831.35 mn as against the figures of US $ 1159.62 during the corresponding period last year, recording a growth of 57.53 per cent.
An employment intensive sector, the leather industry provides job to over four million people. Further, the country is the second largest producer of footwear and leather garments in the world . Even the domestic market for footwear and leather articles is growing. Technology upgradation, improvement in stitching quality and quality control systems, better accessories and improved delivery commitments are primarily attributed for this stupendous growth.
Further, earlier considered fit only for winter attire, leather today has become a pet item of hi-fashion in India with designers churning them out in an array of colors and designs. So no more in blacks and browns only, the leather garments are today available in dark yellow to soft pink and dull grey to rich greens. Besides, a variety of designs have also made its way into the leatherwear market. This value addition has brought in additional income. And thus, the country is exporting a huge quantity of leather garments, accessories, footwear, leather goods, etc.
No wonder then, a large number of manufacturing units have come up across the country to cater to this expanding market which requires a good number of trained professionals to churn out designer products. These manufacturing units are located mainly in Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, Kolkata, Kanpur, Agra, Jalandhar, Hyderabad, Gurgaon, Cochin, Jaipur, Ranipet, Ambala, Dewas, Karnal, Mumbai etc,
Besides leather garments, these units are also churning out an array of breathtaking pieces of leather goods and accessories such as bags, toys, belts, musical instruments, footwear, garment tags, table-top accessories, gift items, cushion covers, curtains etc. With trained designers available in the market thanks to the proliferation of training institutes, these units are no more copying western designs but are designing their products in-house too.
Training Institutes : To meet the increasing demand of trained professionals in the industry, a number of training institutes have come up:
National Institute of Fashion Technology, set up by Ministry of Textiles in New Delhi with its branches at several places in the country, however, enjoys an important position. It offers 4-year Bachelor in Design Course in Leather Design. Initially focused on leather products, now the programme covers important areas relating to fashion goods, personal life accessories and footwear at its Campuses located in New Delhi, Kolkata, RaI Bareli and Chennai.
Emphasis of the Course is on integration of design concepts with material knowledge. A multidisciplinary approach and exposure to the industry through field trips, tannery training, craft cluster programmes, industry internship and graduation projects are an integral part of the curriculum whereby students explore and innovate with materials and techniques, forms and components.
Central Footwear Training Institute, Agra under Ministry of MSME, Government of India offers a number of courses in footwear manufacturing, design and technology including PG Higher Diploma in Footwear Technology and Management Studies, Diploma in Footwear Manufacturing and Design, Post Diploma in Footwear Technology, PG Diploma in Footwear Technology, Advance Certificate Course in Footwear Design and Product Deveolpment, Certificate Course in Footwear Design and Production etc.
The Ministry of Commerce too has come up with an institute, called the Footwear Design & Development Institute at Noida in UP with Campuses across India. The institute offers Graduate and Post Graduate Design Courses in Footwear Designing and Production .Those having +2 qualification can apply for B. Design Course. The aim of the programme is to create excellent manpower in the field of footwear production, designing and merchandising to fulfill the demand for the rapidly growing international and domestic business.
Indira Gandhi National Open Univeristy, New Delhi too offers Bachelor in Design course in Leather Goods and Accessory Design and M.Leather Goods and Accessory Design) courses in the field.
Job Opportunities: After the training in designing leather and leather goods including footwear, a trained professional may get placed in a good position at an Export House, Domestic Manufacturing Company, Retail Company, Buying House etc dealing with leather and leather goods . These companies keep advertising vacancies for the following positions suiting them:
Skills Required: Leather products have now become hi-fashion products too. Thus, it is important that the aspirants for the course are creative and have a liking for leather. They should also be innovative so that they can adapt to the latest trends while designing the products.