The Portuguese government adopted new regulations (Decreto-Lei n.o 3/2022) at the end of January 2022 to label all textile products that are man-made to replace genuine leather and also established fines for companies that do not comply. The new law defines the term leather and specifies its use. Accordingly, the word “couro” – leather – may only be used for products made from animal skin, while expressions such as “vegan leather,” “synthetic leather,” etc., may not be used as they are technically incorrect and misleading. In the field of trade and labeling, it will no longer be possible to combine the word with prefixes, suffixes and qualifying adjectives if the material in question is not genuine leather.

The leather industry is an important economic factor in the Portuguese economy, as well as in Spain and France, where there are already corresponding laws. Italy has also already introduced a regulatory instrument to protect the authenticity of leather in October 2020.

The Confederation of National Associations of Tanners and Dressers of the European Community (Cotance), based in Brussels, sees the local legal initiatives as a positive impulse for the European Commission to revise and adapt the current regulations on textile denominations and footwear, which date back to 1992. The association also believes that the current EU regulation for textile labeling (Regulation (EU) No 1007/2011 is not clear enough regarding the topic. The paper assigns the use of the word “leather” only to products made from animal skin. However, in practice, the terms “vegan leather” or “synthetic leather” are still frequently used.