The leather industry in Turkey needs no introduction because of its rich leather heritage. Turkish leather has a legacy of hundreds of years and has been flourishing since then. Today, Turkey is one of the biggest producers of high quality leather products in the world. It is mainly known for processing sheep and goat leather, which takes it to the second position in Europe after Italy.
Leather products have always been considered as one of the most outstanding items in the world. The leather industry in Turkey outshines the others because of its unique quality of the raw materials and its production process. The processing procedures are very difficult and require great care, time and labor to obtain a suitable material, from the raw animal skin to produce leather products like clothing, shoes and other goods.
The Turkish leather industry has years of experience in leather processing and it gets this exceptional tradition from its historical past. The history of leather in Turkey goes back to the 12th century. Later in 1453, Turks conquered Istanbul, a place with plenty of water and favorable for leather tanning. Therefore, after conquering Istanbul, the Sultan set aside this place for leather industry. The first leather industrial area was established in Kazhcesme.
Today, Turkey has 13 industrial leather zones which use modern technology and produce high quality products. Turkey holds the fourth place after Italy, China and India for being the biggest producer of leather. Besides, Turkey is the world leader in production of fur with a processing capacity of 80 million units yearly. Tuzla, in Turkey has become the biggest industrial leather sector in Europe. Quality is their most crucial aspect. Hence, the products that are exported by the country are manufactured with minute detailing.
The other important trait of the leather processing industry in Turkey is that the production is carried out in European standards and eco-friendly advanced methods are utilized. 70% of the leather produced in Turkey is made using environment friendly methods. The Turkish leather processing industry has some advantages in international market because of its organized industrial sectors and eco-friendly technology. Besides, with flexible production capacity, it produces high quality products.
Furthermore, 22% of the world's small cattle leather processing and production is obtained from Turkey. However, the leather industry is not willing to rest with its achievements. The global trade figure of the leather industry is $225 billion, in which Turkey's contribution is around $5 billion. This is expected to rise in the coming years. Their hard work was highlighted at the Asia Pacific Leather Fair (APLF) held in March 2013.
The spotlight was on Turkey among 1200 exhibitors and 20,000 visitors. The noteworthy feature was the special project from Turkish Leather Brands (TLB) to increase the influence of Turkish leather globally. The country's total export had improved in the last 3 years and was worth $150 billion in 2013. It is expected to reach $500 billion by 2023, earning $10 billion from leather export alone.
The Turkish leather industry has already laid down its action plan for the next decade. It has earned laurels for its leather exports and now it is keen to showcase Turkey's expertise in leather design on a global platform. Today, Turkey is rocking the global leather fashion industry with its designing skills. Turkey has become the focal point for leather materials, manufacturing and technology in the world.
Turkey became the main attraction in the fair organized by APLF (Asian Pacific Leather Fair) in Hong Kong. The Turkish leather brands and Turkish designers together attracted important buyers and sellers from the world leather market. According to the Leather Manufacturers' Association, in the past 5 years Turkey's leather sector has grown by 80 percent.
While Turkey already had their leather exports established in EU countries, US and Russia, it chose to penetrate China and Hong Kong markets too. China is the leader in the world leather market and now Turkish leather industry is exporting even to China.
In Chinese market, the double face shearling is on high demand. As the temperature in China is cold, people prefer materials that keep them warm. Therefore, shearling is much sought after product. Today, renowned Chinese people are the loyal customers of Turkish leather manufacturers.
Countries like China, Italy, Spain, Vietnam, Pakistan and India are the biggest suppliers for Turkish leather and leather products. China's share is 36.5%, Italy with 11.6%, Spain with 6.2%, Vietnam with 5.3%, Indonesia with 4.2%, Pakistan with 3.7% and India with 2.8%. Turkey is one of the renowned countries that produces and exports leather and leather products with high quality and unique design.
With nearness to fashion hubs like Paris, Milan and London, Turkey gets all the news about the latest trends in the international fashion market. This helps the Turkish leather brands to design their products accordingly. Due to which, it has been able to establish a strong foot in the international fashion market with their fashionable finished leather products. Also, Turkish tanneries have developed business relationship with important Italian, French and European brands.
To increase their share in the international market, the Turkish leather industry has adopted some new strategies. It will concentrate on developing design and fashion based market. It wishes to enhance its future vision by promotional activities and fairs at international level. Further, it intends to establish Turkish brands in different markets around the world to yield long term benefits.
Additionally, it strategizes to create product differentiation in the global market with the help of continuous research and development, and also plans to cooperate with foreign companies. Further, in 2013, the Government of Turkey has come up with an action plan to set up centers for leather as well as textiles and apparels.
This will in turn reduce the over-dependence on Istanbul and other sectors. Further, it has decided to reduce the production cost. Instead of establishing centres only in cities, it targets to create new centres in villages of eastern and western Turkey.
To conclude, one can say that, with well planned strategies for the coming years, Turkish leather industry has established itself in all the major leather markets and countries. There is no doubt in saying that the leather industry in Turkey has a booming future.