This month we welcome new team member Martha Bent to Billy Tannery, who joins us for an internship supporting founder Jack across a number of areas including design and project management. Martha is a recent fashion graduate who used her final year projects to explore how high-end pieces can be created from leather that might otherwise be considered waste, as well as a study into the sustainability of the production of British leather overall.
We are delighted that her studies led Martha to discover Billy Tannery and she tells us a little more about her work and findings below.
"I’m really excited to join the Billy Tannery team and be involved in the future of the British Leather Industry! My interest in leather started during my time studying Fashion Design at the University of Leeds where I focused my final innovation collection on leather.
I sourced my waste grade sheepskins from Pittards, with the aim of my collection being to utilise as much of the skin as possible. I achieved my aim of limiting my waste to an absolute minimum through designing using small panels and also making a feature of the raw edge which is often discarded. In this collection I also chose to embrace any inconsistencies in the skins including colour, grain, scratches and growth marks.
Despite much trial and error, due to using a material I had never designed or constructed with before, I developed a love for leather and its variable qualities which resulted in a collection I am very proud of. Once I had handled leather, I became increasingly interested in the process of how the material is created, paired with many questions regarding the sustainability of the material.
My dissertation tackled the question of “Can leather truly be sustainable?” - placing a focus on the British leather industry throughout the 21st Century. My paper considered the whole supply chain from field to consumer (rather than focusing only on the sustainability of the finished leather product.) After extensive research using case studies, which included Billy Tannery, and talking to industry experts I reached the conclusion that leather can be considered sustainable. This is however determined by each stage of the supply chain from the raising of the animals to the consumption of the leather product. Despite all stages affecting the overall sustainability, as leather is a by-product of the meat industry, it is fundamentally a sustainable material.
Now that I have graduated, I’m really happy to be working with Billy Tannery, a company who extensively considers sustainability at all stages of supply chain; tackling a significant waste issue and implementing modern microtannery processes whilst also supporting British farmers and craftsmanship. I look forward to expanding my knowledge over the coming months!"