According to The Asahi Shimbun today, Kuraray Co., creator of the world’s first artificial leather for shoes, is pitching its product to top luxury brands in Europe.
After repeatedly making prototypes and visiting potential buyers of its Clarino artificial leather, the company finally formed a partnership this year with Italian tanners.
Its new variation of Clarino, long known as a material for standard school backpacks in Japan, now has the feel, texture and other properties of genuine leather.
“Professionals mistook it for natural leather” at a trade show in Milan in September, according to company officials.
Kuraray is seeking to expand by the use of its artificial leather in such goods as luxury handbags and jackets as the company marks the 50th anniversary of Clarino’s release in 1965.
“We want to do our best to reach 100 years,” Kuraray President Masaaki Ito said at an unveiling ceremony of the new Clarino in Japan.
Kuraray says the improved Clarino is a next-generation material that maintains the advantages of artificial leather, such as a light weight and water resistance. Through a collaboration with an Italian tanning business, Kuraray has developed a method to give a natural finish for the artificial leather.
Using a production method developed in 2009, Kuraray doubled the density of the material’s composition and used collagen fibers to make it resemble natural leather.
Kuraray originally developed Clarino for shoes and started using the material for school bags in 1970. But revenue from the products account for only about 10 percent of its sales today.
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