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Synthetic Leather Industry Rising Due to Growing Demand for Textile and Automotive Industry

In 2022, the synthetic leather industry size was evaluated at USD 33.65 billion and it is expected to contribute USD 51.71 billion by 2032, progressing at a rate of 4.4% from 2023 to 2032.

The synthetic leather industry growth is driven by the growing demand for footwear, increasing demand from the automotive industry, and growing demand for synthetic leather from the textile industry.

Synthetic leather, a man-made material, is commonly manufactured from polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or polyurethane. Though it appears to be genuine leather, it is synthetic leather. Synthetic leather can be colored and treated to resemble genuine leather. This type of leather is also known as vegan leather, imitation leather, and leatherette.

Regional Snapshot:

The Asia Pacific is expected to hold the largest industry share during the forecast period. The regional growth is supported by the fastest developing countries such as India and China. The growing population along with increasing disposable income is expected to drive the demand for the industry. According to, China's population grew from 667.07 million to 1.41 billion population between 1960 and 2021. This represents an increase of 111.7% over 61 years.

The year 1966 saw the greatest growth in China, at 2.83 percent. 1961 saw the largest decline, at -1.01 percent. Similarly, According to statistics from the National Bureau of Statistics, China's per capita disposable income was 36,883 yuan (approximately USD 5,487) in 2022, an increase of 5% year over year in nominal terms. Moreover, China is the largest manufacturer of leather, which will positively impact the industry's growth. For instance, according to the International Trade Centre, China is the largest exporter of leather with an exported value of USD 182 million in 2021.

North America and Europe are predicted to experience moderate development in the global artificial leather industry owing to the growing tendency of consumers to choose cruelty-free products. Additionally, natural leather producers now face a significant obstacle as a result of animal rights legislation in many nations. Growing consumer awareness about animal deaths, primarily as a result of campaigns run by groups like PETA, PAWS, WWF, and others, has significantly increased demand for synthetic leather products. Another significant reason why makers choose synthetic alternatives is the industry's supply-demand gap for natural leather.

Synthetic Leather Industry Report Scope:

Report Coverage Details
Market Size in 2022 USD 33.65 Billion
Projected Forecast Value in 2032 USD 51.71 Billion
Growth Rate 4.4% from 2023 to 2032
Fastest Growing Market North America
Largest Market Asia Pacific
Base Year 2022
Forecast Period 2023 to 2032
Regions Covered North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, Latin America and Middle East & Africa

Report Highlights:

  • By product, the PU segment is expected to dominate the industry over the forecast period. PU leather, also known as polyurethane leather, is synthetic leather made of a thermoplastic material that is used to make shoes or furniture. Its development in terms of product quality, diversity, and yield has been encouraging. In comparison to genuine leather, polyurethane is more readily fractured and is lighter, softer, and waterproof. Sunlight does not affect it either.
  • In addition, since it does not release dioxins, it is a greener alternative to goods made of vinyl. Besides, the PVC segment is anticipated to grow at a moderate rate over the forecast period. PVC leather also referred to as polyvinyl chloride, is a distinct variety of suede leather produced by substituting a chloride group for the hydrogen group in the vinyl groups. Because PVC felt viscous and couldn't keep body heat in, PU posed a serious threat to PVC. Thus, its demand dropped in the sector of apparel and bag applications.
  • The polyester polyol-based bio-based substance has a 70–75 percent renewable composition. Compared to PU and PVC, it is smoother and has greater scratch resistance. Important worldwide industry players are concentrating on creating novel products in association with polyol producers. In the future years, rapid industrialization and ongoing R&D will continue to support segment expansion.
  • By application, the footwear segment holds a significant industry share during the forecast period. Its use is becoming more similar to that of real leather, which is replacing applications in purses, briefcases, furniture for cars, and apparel. The demand for footwear has been driven by rising wage levels and economic development, particularly in emerging nations. Additionally, the sector is driven by variations in regional climates, which demand various kinds of footwear. These footwears are durable, affordable, and friendly to the earth. Compared to genuine leather shoes, which can become stained from environmental exposure, synthetic leather shoes have greater water protection. When strolling or sprinting, faux leather shoes are strong enough to be worn for longer. Thus, this is expected to drive segmental growth.

Industry Dynamics:


Increasing consumer awareness of animal cruelty and sustainable leather products

Over the past ten years, the use of products with synthetic leather has significantly increased. The industry is primarily influenced by factors like changing consumer preferences, worries about animal cruelty, and the environmental effects of tanneries. Genuine leather substitutes with comparable prices are being looked into by consumers. Consumers are turning more and more to synthetic leather due to its low repair cost and highly adjustable materials.

More sustainable materials are becoming a focus in the furniture, clothing, and automobile sectors. Leading companies have begun using synthetic leather in high-luxury vehicle categories, so automakers are embracing the material. Automakers are choosing eco-friendly furnishings as a result of consumers' growing opposition to animal-sourced seating in their vehicles. For instance, in December 2022, A opulent faux-leather steering wheel has been created by Toyoda Gosei Co., Ltd. for customers who prefer leather-free products that don't use real animal leather.


Volatility in the price of raw materials

Volatility in the price of raw materials as synthetic leather raw materials are PVC, polyurethane and others and these are the by-product of crude oil, acting as a major restraint for the growth of the industry during the forecast period. According to the US Energy Information Administration, the price of Brent crude oil is predicted to increase by 48%, which will have a major impact on the price of raw materials such as PU, PVC and Others. Thus, the volatility in the price of crude oil majorly hinders the industry expansion over the forecast period.


Growing automotive industry

The growing automotive sector is expected to provide a lucrative opportunity for industry growth during the forecast period. Synthetic leather is used in various applications in automotive industries such as steering, interiors, seats and others. For instance, according to the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers, from April 2021 to March 2022, the automotive sector produced a total of 22,933,230 vehicles compared to 22,655,609 units from April 2020 to March 2021.


Non-biodegradable nature of synthetic leather

Petrochemicals are used to create synthetic leather, making it non-biodegradable. It takes a very long period for microplastics to break down, decompose, and be produced. The most popular synthetic leather materials are PVC and PU, but they have drawn criticism for their high carbon emissions and absence of biodegradability. Thus, acting as a major challenge for the industry growth over the forecast period.

Recent Developments: 

  • In June 2020, BASF launched Haptex 2.0, a new polyurethane solution for synthetic leather. It enables designers to achieve high performance and desired appearance in numerous applications including automotive, furniture and others. It also satisfied strict VOC requirements without the use of any biological solvents.

Major Key Players:

  • R. Polycoats Pvt. Ltd.
  • Kuraray Co., Ltd.
  • Alfatex Italia SRL
  • Yantai Wanhua Synthetic Leather Group Co., Ltd.
  • San Fang Chemical Industry Co., Ltd.
  • Filwel Co., Ltd.
  • Nan Ya Plastics Corporation
  • Teijin Limited
  • Zhejiang Hexin Industry Group Co., Ltd.

Market Segmentation:

By Product

  • PVC
  • PU
  • Bio Based

By Application

  • Automotive
  • Furnishing
  • Footwear
  • Clothing
  • Bags & Wallets
  • Others

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