Turkish leather engineer’s glow-in-the-dark leather innovation
“This product is a leather material, it has a glow-in-the-dark feature. It can have many uses. It can be used in many areas from shoe leather to clothing leather, from bag leather to household goods, from automotive upholstery leather to interior wall designs.”
Ms. Evrim Kadıoğlu Marriott, can we get to know you?
I graduated from Ege University Engineering Faculty Leather Engineering Department in 2004 as one of the first 9 leather engineers in the world. I first started my career working in tanneries. In the meantime, I specialized in leather production techniques, especially in leather finishing, which we call leather make-up. Then I started working on leather chemicals, at this stage I had experience in writing leather finishing recipes and making leather in the color or attitude or prints that the final manufacturer wants to use. My passion for being a leather engineer has been continuing with my international work for nearly 20 years.
I want to talk a little bit about my passion for being a leather engineer…
First of all, I want to congratulate you. I think you have made a great initiative, I hope it will be good and have a very nice journey both for you and for our national and international leather industry.
Thank you for your interest as Magazine Leather team.
I’ve worked with every type of leather you can think of. Small cattle, bovine skins, exotic leathers and even fur suede… Then I changed my direction a bit and turned to apparel. I worked in factories producing leather garments and then in factories producing leather bags. In these factories, I mostly supported the quality control systems and the relations of the manufacturer with their customers, especially with foreign customers. Then, in 2013, I received an offer from a company in France and moved to France. In the meantime, I worked on the purchasing and quality processes of exotic leathers. After working there for about a year, I came back to Turkey. Frankly, the period I worked in France was a bit below my expectations both personally and professionally, and I’m glad I came back because within about a year, I received an offer from Burberry company to work in their main office in London and started to work in the raw material departments as a Senior Leather Engineer. Burberry transported me very comfortably from Izmir to London. I worked in this company for about 2.5 years and it was one of the most enjoyable periods of my career, because it was a very key position where I could express all my experiences in the supply chain, tanneries, chemical companies and apparel. And I had the opportunity to work with other cross functional departments.
These were departments such as product engineering, product development, fabric approval. After this process, if you look at the fact, it is an interesting story. By the way, I did my master’s degree in leather engineering. I did a study on the permanence of leather finishing with nano-technological applications. I also developed this study as a Tübitak project and completed it successfully. Then I started my doctorate education in the same department. My PhD was still in progress while working at Burberry. And, however, with a regulation that was enacted at that time, the time to complete my doctorate was limited, so I decided to resign from Burberry and return to Turkey to complete my doctorate. I could not return to Turkey because of some confusion at that time. Then comes the establishment of my company, “Evolution Leather Consulting”, born in 2016. In this process, I started to give leather technical consultancy to Burberry, some other start-up companies or investor companies through my own company. Then, this time, I started to work as a leather engineer and operations manager for a company engaged in the restoration of leather luxury products. In the same period, I started to work as a leather specialist for four major expert platforms in the world. Again, during my master’s degree, I made a leather material invention with another leather engineer friend.
I want to talk about this briefly.
In this invention, we created a leather material that has the ability to glow in the dark by absorbing sunlight and artificial light. In 2010, we made it applicable to all leathers you can think of, except Fur-Suede, and got its patent. We have been working on entering the market for about 10-12 years. With the agreement I made recently, we will have the chance to see the textile leather combination with a brand for the first time in the international market. Now, my consultancy work continues. I also had a very short-term job, I was the quality and development director of a factory that produces luxury leather products, and we are slowly recovering with this company. I have a few draft projects, I want to concentrate on them and at the same time, I am going back to my doctoral education with this year’s amnesty. I hope that in a few years it will be possible to complete my thesis and get my doctorate.
You said you started leather engineering from the first tannery, tanning has been done with almost the same processes since the history of humanity. Well, as someone from the leather industry, I want to get your feelings at the first stage.
As you know, leather has been processed since ancient times for a very long time. In fact, it consists of two parts as wet processes and finishing processes. In wet processes, you have processes such as soaking, softening, liming, pickling, tanning, retanning, and these were followed as processes in the past, but the chemicals used were then more natural, such as egg whites and pancreatic enzymes of dog feces. Now these enzymes have become more commercial chemicals and production processes have become technical, faster and more effective. The other part is the finishing process, that is, the process in which we do the make-up of the leather and which is my area of expertise that interests me a lot.
You said “Makeup of the Leather”, could you elaborate a little more on the subject?
When we took our first lesson on the finishing process, our teacher gave an example of human make-up. Just as when you put too much foundation and too much heavy make-up on your face, the natural appearance of your skin is turned off, and so is the leather. In other words, when you cover the leather with too many finishing coats and pigments, you actually close the natural appearance and pores of the leather. Therefore, I think it is very appropriate to define the finishing as the make-up of the leather.
I was a bit of a curious and creative child, so the finishing part was an area where I could show my creativity more and experiment, and there you don’t just play with pigments, dyestuffs, waxes, touches, that is, the agents that we give the leather’s attitude, but at the same time, you do not fulfill the quality expectations of the leather. you bring. For example, you can experience and fulfill the abrasion resistance of the leather, the light fastness of the leather, the finishing resistance of the leather, its waterproofness or dirt repellency more in this finishing section.
Regarding my own product, my invention was a work that can be experienced in finishing.
We investigated the applicability of photoluminescent pigments in leather finishing. After about 6 months of work, we got the right formulation and our leather now glows in the dark, when it is charged with the sun and artificial light. After that, we got the patent and the brand in England.
Can you explain your product in more detail? What is the benefit of the product you have made, what kind of results does the end user notice?
This product is a leather material, it has the ability to glow in the dark. It can have many uses, from leather for shoes to leather for clothes, from leather for bags to household items, from automotive upholstery leather to interior wall design. You may have heard of fluorescent and neon materials. These are materials covered with very thick films, so the naturalness of your material is not so much there anymore and there is a very high shine. In our material, the leather keeps its properties and at the same time, it is charged for about 30 minutes with sunlight or artificial light, it shines for about 3-4 hours and fades gradually, and you can recharge the same leather for 40 years and get the shine feature again. There is only one limit, you can apply this formulation on all leather tones from black leather to white leather. However, the formulation you apply on the white leather gives the most shine effect, while the formulation you apply on the black leather gives the least shine. And your ability to glow in the dark gradually increases in tones from black to white. Apart from that, this material passes all basic tests both physically and chemically and this is one of the things I am most proud of as a leather engineer. As I said, its usage areas are completely limited to your dreams, that is, leather that we can think of is a product that can be used in all industries in all sectors used as a main product or by-product.
In particular, can workers’ shoes be used to prevent work accidents?
Personally, I am not much in favor of using GloTech leather or any material that has a glow-in-the-dark property as a primary material for safety. Why? Because the use of reflective materials in such places is more standard as they do not fade over time, but it can also be used as a by-product to support them.
For example, I have a customer in America, a motorcycle club uses GloTech leather as a label on their leather jackets. Let’s say it is a slightly more aesthetic material, or it can be used in lampshades covered with decorative leather, for example, when you turn on the light, your skin is charged at the same time, and when you turn off the light, your lampshade shines in an aesthetic way.
I think your work will be a light to the leather industry. Will you have other works related to leather? Are you in search of different alternatives?
As a matter of fact, I have a few more material experiments in mind and as I said, I was always a very curious child and I continued to be a curious person. I can get it. But it’s too early to talk about right now.
You mentioned the first process step in chemistry. Since finishing ‘make-up of the leather’ is your field, what kind of diversification can there be in technical matters? Italy does this well. For example, tanneries go according to the customer’s demand, what would you like to say in terms of more manufacturability and innovation at the point of production?
As a matter of fact, there is a grain of truth there, we still get support from Italian technicians and Spanish technicians while we are still making finishing developments. Actually, in this sense, we have many human resources and leather engineer friends who are graduating. In fact, we already have a very serious infrastructure in terms of chemicals, that is, we have companies that produce chemical materials, companies that produce our own chemical materials, and we have companies that distribute them, and I just think that it should be encouraged a little more. Especially our newly graduated leather engineer and leather technician friends should be encouraged to make innovative studies on this subject and to innovate.
I observed this in my leather history research. Sailors Phoenicians made leather sails and there was a research about it. Different pursuits as innovation are also in fashion and at the point of being different….
What are we doing in the industry in general? There are trends that are created, especially seasonally, we usually follow them or we try to make similar ones, as in fact, maybe we have a leather engineering department at Ege University, maybe a little more on technical subjects, maybe design, which I know is being done, I know that the studies may be a little more design-oriented orientations. In addition, joint projects with fine arts can be increased. After all, ‘Made in Turkey’ leather has an important place in my opinion.
So, as I said, we already have human resources in this regard. Maybe at the same time, more leather engineers and leather technicians can be encouraged financially and morally. not be.
While I am describing the process when you first started your work in the Clothing section, I would like to mention Vegetal leather in the Clothing section. What would you like to say in terms of sustainability?
As you said, there are vegetable tanned leathers, there are semi-vegetable tanned leathers, there are leathers tanned with chrome or synthetic tanning materials. Even in chrome-tanned leathers, use below certain limits, as the banned chemical lists are now strictly complied with. For example, there are wet-white leathers. For example, you see on Louis Vuitton brand bags, they are used on the corners of the handles or at the bottom of the bag, or used vegetable tanned leathers are used throughout the bag, but they are mostly used in garments or clothing, as semi-vegetable tanned or chrome tanned leathers can be sewn more easily. . When it comes to sustainability, I think it is appropriate as long as certain regulations are followed, that is, from raw hide to production. Maybe this is an industry that has been in line with this subject for the longest time, so unfortunately, “Vegan” leathers, or they are not actually leather, have started to receive negative prejudices with the recent propaganda, but I think that this judgment has started to be broken recently. . And as I said, as long as certain chemical regulations are followed, many countries are now adapting to this, and those who can’t adapt are now having difficulties in exporting. Therefore, both leather material is ‘Sustainable’ and leather production is suitable for this, this is my personal opinion.
After all, there is a population of people and after that, vegetal leather is okay, but reflecting it as leather is a steal for genuine leather, so in terms of sustainability….
Of course, it’s not officially correct anyway, in order for you to call it leather material, it has to be a material obtained from animals, except for all materials, many of which are obtained with excess polyurethane and other chemicals and other unwanted chemicals. In fact, it is much more harmful for the environment. And I think people are starting to become aware of the end consumer on this subject, and many institutions in the leather industry have very serious manifestos, studies and publications on this subject, and I am gladly watching this.
In fact, the opposing view is formed by using mostly animal lovers, this is not the right approach because the sector he doesn’t kill animals for his skin. This needs to be broken.
There are still crocodile factories, for example, animals killed for their skin, which are mostly used for their skin, so even they have to be put through certain regulations.
When leather is considered as a derivative by-product of the meat industry, it is actually much more accurate, many people in many leather industries are already against killing many professional animals for their skin. But the major part of the production is already an industry based on utilizing the waste product of the meat industry. So I totally agree with what you’re saying.
When leather is considered as a derivative by-product of the meat industry, it is actually much more accurate, many people in many leather industries are already against killing many professional animals for their leather. But the major part of the production is already an industry based on utilizing the waste product of the meat industry. So I totally agree with what you’re saying.
Let’s assume that there are no people who consume meat at the same time, a person will definitely consume meat, and then he will benefit from the skin of that animal and its meat. It is unreasonable to destroy it as it is an instinctive reaction.
When you do not use pelt for meat, you generate a very serious amount of waste and you send it to the fields, in fact, it is a very positive industry, that is, you transform that waste into one of the most comfortable, ergonomic, and luxurious materials in the world by passing it through the right processes. And that’s what got me excited in the first place, which I’m actually passionate about personally. In other words, you evaluate a waste product and turn it into a luxury material. Or think about supporting human health, in which material a shoe can support your foot health as much as leather. There is no other material that I know of yet, I don’t know if it will happen in the future. In other words, the breathability of the leather, the ergonomics of the vapor and sweat permeability of the leather, the leather has many positive performances and I think the leather material will not be lost very easily today or tomorrow and will always be on the agenda, maybe it may decrease, as it is now, in lower brands, but even if it decreases, the use of leather in the middle and upper segments. I predict it will continue. At the same time, sustainability leather already has a very long lifespan. you can also restore the skin on top of it. In other words, one of the works I mentioned was about the restoration of leather in my career. You can restore your bag that you love so much for years, and you can use it for years, maybe another ten or fifteen years. And it can be restored to almost new. When you restore the leather, you put the leather back into its life cycle, and when it becomes unusable, you can recycle the leather to use other materials. In other words, it is actually a sector that also serves fashion and the economy on a cyclical basis, and I am professionally lucky that I had the opportunity to work and experience in all the chains of this cycle.
The information you have given is truly inspiring. You already answered most of what I had in mind. What are your thoughts on the fashion industry in general?
We already have internationally known leather brands and I would like to see them increase with Turkish designers and Turkish technical people. in the international market. I think both the leather engineering department and fine arts design departments of Ege University can support this with multidisciplinary studies, both academically and industrially, because we have a very serious resource and we have very serious working tanneries and ready-made garments. Throughout my career, I have seen that we are better than many manufacturers, sometimes from many brands, whose production we follow with admiration, both in terms of price-quality performance and quality of workmanship. We just need to increase our awareness a little more in the international community. In this sense, branding is very important, I personally hope I can contribute in this sense with my own brand and patented product. My work will continue. Of course, from my point of view, I would like to see my own product, which has the feature of glowing in the dark, in the international market and to see it used in various industries. In fact, one of my biggest dreams is to see it used in electric vehicles. On the one hand, you have energy gain. You get light from a natural material instead of LED lights or electricity, aesthetically, in this sense, I have such a dream. I hope it comes true. Our material was selected for the academic material library named “Tomorrow’s Clothing” in a material library in the USA two years ago.
A very good initiative on behalf of our country…
I hope it will become more concrete, this will make me very happy not only financially but also spiritually, so it would be pleasant for a Turkish leather engineer to make his name known in the international market with an innovative material. First of all, I think it will be both motivating and proud to my teachers and then to my colleagues in the leather industry.
Ms. Evrim, thank you very much for your time and contribution to the MAGAZINE LEATHER publication. Lasly, what do you want to say?
First of all, I would like to thank you very much for your invitation, it was very enjoyable for me. And I hope there was some awareness-raising conversation.