Despite many discussions that leather is just a by-product, it is a product derived from the pain and suffering of sentient and living beings. The largest producer of skins and hides remains China, with more than 892 million animals killed for leather in 2018, followed by the United States (159 million), and Brazil (85 million).
Leather items are mainly produced for bags, shoes, clothes, phone cases, etc. To manufacture these, cows, pigs, goats, and sheep are killed for such production, as well as exotic animals, such as alligators, ostriches, and kangaroos, sometimes dogs and cats. Most of the leather products are being manufactured in countries where the legal protection for such practices is either non-existent or not enforced, e.g, India and China.
For instance, in India, there was an undercover investigation where it was found that employees of the factories break the tails of cows and rub chili peppers and tobacco into their eyes for the purpose of forcing them to get up and walk after their collapse from exhaustion. In the United States, animals raised for the fashion industry also endure horrific conditions, such as extreme crowding on filthy factories, castration, branding, tail docking without any painkillers.
Presently, leather is mostly made out of cattle skin but other animals are used too. For instance, lamb and deer’s skin are also used for soft leather in more expensive apparel, as well as in producing work gloves and indoor shoes. The skin of pigs is used for manufacturing apparel, wallets, seats of saddles. Other animals, such as buffalo, horses, goats, alligators, crocodiles, dogs, snakes, ostriches, kangaroos, oxen, and yaks are raised and killed for leather products.
Animals that are brutally slaughtered to produce leather are hunted, caged, farmed, and skinned alive after living in inhumane conditions. Most of the leather comes from Asian countries. The top producers of leather goods in Asia are now China, India, Indonesia, Bangladesh, and Vietnam.