Institute for Creative Leather Technologies

What is the Institute for Creative Leather Technologies?

The Institute for Creative Leather Technologies (ICLT) is a unique research and education centre. Our research responds to the scientific and technological needs of the automotive, fashion, footwear and allied leather industries.

Understanding new and traditional leather processing techniques expands the possibilities of how leather can be used. Our research programme has an impact on diverse sectors, including medical and technological applications. The partnerships that we have also take leather developments into engineering, media and fashion.

Leather Degrees and Professional Training

Professional Training

Areas of interest

The Institute for Creative Leather Technologies currently has research interests in the following areas:

  • understanding and modelling the science underpinning leather technology
  • the viscoelastic response of leather to processing conditions
  • the role of the solvent in leather manufacture, including the replacement of water
  • the development of new tanning methods from traditional processes
  • the application of novel chemistries to make new leathers and collagenic biomaterials
  • the role of biochemistry in leather making
  • modelling the mechanical processing of leather
  • the management of the byproducts and waste from leather manufacture
  • sustainability of leather manufacture, including the environmental impact of processing
  • applied collagen research for medical applications, such as scaffolds for cell growth
  • the deterioration and conservation of leather and related heritage artefacts

Recent projects

Major projects in recent years include:

  • RESTORM: a multinational, multimillion euro project on environmental impact, funded by the EU
  • Dermagenesis: a project on the creation of artificial skin, grown in the laboratory, funded by the EU
  • Collaboration with a company in USA on the creation of a different kind of artificial collagenic biomaterial
  • EU funded project on the development of archival quality book-binding leather

Doctoral studies constitute a major component of the research programme in ICLT.  Recent projects included:

  • Composting of tannery waste hair
  • The microbiology of clean leather processing
  • Studies in leather conservation
  • Self-degradability in leather

Current projects

  • UK: Novel system for delivering reagents into the collagen substrate
  • UK: Application of ionic liquids to novel chemistry for leather processing
  • France: Study of the kinetics of tanning with complexed chromium(III) salt
  • Italy: Study of the fundamentals of the materials science of leather during processing
  • USA: Study of novel chemistry in post tanning
  • Vietnam: Developing the infrastructure for a modern leather shoe manufacturing industry
  • Colombia: Consultancy in the application of improvements in the environmental impact of leather production

External partners

The Worshipful Company of Leathersellers

The Worshipful Company of Leathersellers shield

The Company has supported the leather provision with us for many years.

The Leather Conservation Centre

The Leather Conservation Centre logo

The Centre engages in training and research into improved methods of leather conservation.

The National Leather Collection (NLC)

National Leather Collection logo

The unique focus on leather makes it a valued resource for aesthetic, technological and design studies.

The University of Leicester

University of Leicester shield

There is a collaboration with ICLT to develop novel chemistries coming out of their research programme for application to the leather industry.

Educational co-operation is a feature of the ongoing research programme. Countries currently involved include China, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Pakistan, India and Mexico.

ICLT Staff

Staff working within ICLT include:

Ms Rachel Garwood, Director of ICLT

Ms Rachel Garwood
01604 892056

Professor Anthony D. Covington, Director of Research

Prof Anthony Covington
01604 892987

Dr Will Wise, Senior Lecturer

Dr Will Wise
01604 892156

 Mr Marc Gummer, Senior Lecturer in Leather Supply Chain Management

Marc Gummer, Senior Lecturer in Leather Supply Chain Management
01604 892343

Dr Anne Lama, Senior Lecturer

Dr Anne Lama
01604 892058

 Dr Stefan Davis, Lecturer in Leather Technology

Dr Stefan Davis, Lecturer in Leather Technology
01604 892057

Mr Alberto Bevilacqua, Lecturer in Leather Technology

Alberto Bevilacqua, Lecturer in Leather Technology
01604 892543


ICLT Students

ICLT currently has two research students, Letitia Melo Dos Santos and Keib Mmapatsi.

Lucy Skinner, PhD Student

Lucy Skinner Leather PhD Student

Lucy project is a collaborative PhD in partnership with The British Museum and funded the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council. The project aims to use modern analytical techniques for animal species identification and determination of tanning and skin processing techniques, Lucy’s research will attempt to identify and compare Nubian and ancient Egyptian skin processing techniques. The significance of the work is through making new discoveries, which have implications in the academic study of craftwork, social context and trade networks between ancient communities in the Nile Valley

Thomas Garwood

Thomas’s project addresses the on-going debate around the formation of chromium (VI) within a leather matrix.  Are the current tests appropriate?  Can they be improved on?  Is it actually a problem?  If it is, can it be prevented with specific treatments?

Alberto Bevilacqua, Part-time PhD Student

Alberto Bevilacqua, Lecturer in Leather Technology

Alberto is looking at using novel chemistries to process leather waste and use the purified by-products in other industries.

Past PhD students

Leticia Melos Dos Santos, PhD Student

Leticia’s research addresses the use of enzymes to modify the chemistry of plant extracts currently used in so-called vegetable tanning, to gain advantage in processing.

Keib Mmapatsi, MPhil Student

Keib’s research addresses the use of a novel solvent system that is environmentally benign as a new medium for tanning.

ICLT Studentships

Research (MPhil, PhD) studentships are occasionally available: usually they will be associated with a specific project, often industry sponsored.

Working with ICLT

If you are interested in working with ICLT please contact


Select a recent output below or view all research outputs on NECTAR.