SGS Provides Updates on EU Labeling Regulation of Leather Products

Correct labeling of leather prevents any deceptive or misleading information about the composition of leather goods. In order not to deceive consumers, leather terms or any terms that suggest the use of leather cannot be used to describe a product unless all substantial parts of the product are composed of leather.

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EU Labeling Regulation of Leather Goods

There is currently no EU-level framework that covers the labeling of leather and leather products. The EU has only set up legislation regarding the labeling of textile products (EU Regulation No. 1007/2011) and footwear (Directive 94/11/EC), and there is only limited legislation on leather product labeling in certain European countries.


In the EU, the increase in the number of misleading and false indications in relation to leather products (other than footwear) has led the European Commission to explore the need and the feasibility of establishing a stronger basis for the enforcement of correct definitions and descriptions of leather.


Recently, the European Commission has published the results of a study on the feasibility of a leather labeling system at the European level and to identify the key issues relating to labeling of leather products(1). The focus of the study is on consumer labeling and is limited to final leather products liable to carry a label. A harmonized mandatory labeling regime at the EU-level specifically covering the labeling of leather goods (except footwear) is on a uniform composition label for leather products. The proposed EU legislation on the labeling of leather products is based on the model of the Footwear Labeling Directive (94/11/EC).

The proposed specific types of labeling covered by the study include:

 - Country of origin labeling,
 - Traceability labeling,
 - Environmental labeling,
 - Social labeling,
 - Authenticity (‘real leather’) labeling and
 - Animal species labeling.

The European Commission will launch a final Impact Assessment before proceeding with the actual legislative procedure.

Specific National Labeling Standards for Leather Products

1. Labeling Requirements for Leather Products in Austria

In Austria, leather clothing must comply with the Regulation of the Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry of 9 July 1986 on the Identification of the Nature and Care of Leather Clothing (BGBI No. 407/1986) (2). According to the decree, leather clothing has to be labeled clearly, visibly and legibly in German and Latin letters by means of stamps, stickers or labels on the leather clothing as well as in the after purchase documents (invoice, accompanying writing, brochure or catalogue). The legislation does not apply to leather gloves, headgear, neckties, belts, suspenders and industrial protective clothing, and it only refers to those hides and skins with the original fibrous structure maintained.

The mandatory labeling requirements for leather clothing in Austria concern:

 - The name of the corresponding animal (e.g. cow, calf, goat, sheep, lamb, horse, deer, male deer, antelope, pig)
 - Material description (e,g, grain leather, splits leather – grain spalt, split leather - underpart)
 - Type of leather (e.g. suede, nappa, nubbuck, aniline, shammy)
 - Type of tanning process

2. Labeling Requirements for Leather Products in France

In France, imported leather garments must meet the Decree No. 2010-29 of 8 January 2010 of the Consumer Code for certain leather products and certain similar products (3). Any articles manufactured completely or partly of leather or having the appearance of leather must have a legible and indelible label written in French with the following information in identical typeface. The legislation does not apply to personal protective equipment and footwear.

Labeling information must be provided for articles in leather, split leather or fake leather:

 - Name of the materials
 - Name of the animal or species (only for leather) (e.g. calf, buffalo, goat, kid, horse, foal, sheep, lamb, pig)
 - Types of surface finishing (only for leather furnishings – all visible parts) (e.g. full grain, corrected top-grain, nubuck)
 - Types of finishing (for furnishings – all visible parts)(e.g. unfinished, full aniline, pigmented, velvet, coated, half aniline)
 - If embossed, "façon" or "imitation" and the name of the imitated animal
 - Pictograms (optional)
 - Name or company type registered number

3. Labeling Requirements for Leather Products in the UK

In the UK, the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (CPRs) implemented the EU framework of Unfair Commercial Practices Directive (2005/29/EC) for prohibiting the use of mislabeling, misleading labeling and misleading descriptions on most consumer products. For leather goods, a definition of leather is set out in the British Standard Glossary of Leather Terms (BS 2780) and this definition is used as a guide in applying consumer protection legislation such as the Sale of Goods Act and the Trade Descriptions Act. The term leather should be clearly labeled on products, where leather is hide or skin that has been preserved by tanning, should have its original fibre structure intact and should not have a surface coating that is more than 0.15mm thick. Leather with a coating thicker than this should be labeled as “Coated Leather”.

4. Labeling Requirements for Leather Products in other EU Countries

The current national labeling systems concerning leather products in other EU countries are outlined in Table 1 within the latest SafeGuards bulletin.


(1) EC – News on Result of Study and the ‘Study on the feasibility of a leather labeling system at European level

(2) Austria BGBl No 407/1986

(3) France - Decree No. 2010-29 of 8 January 2010 implementing Article L. 214-1 of the Consumer Code for certain leather products and certain similar products

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