Leather is one of the most widely traded commodities globally. The growth in demand for leather is driven by the fashion industry, especially footwear. Apart from this, furniture and interior design industries, as well as the automotive industry also demand leather. The leather industry has a prominent place in the Indian economy and is known for substantial export earnings and it is among the top ten foreign exchange earners for the Country.

The Indian leather industry accounts for around 12.93 per cent of the world’s leather production of hides/skins and handle a robust annual production of about 3billion sq. ft. of leather. The country accounts for 9% of the world’s footwear production. India is the second largest producer of footwear in the world, producing about 2.41 billion pairs (2017). The export of footwear, leather and leather products from India reached a value of US$ 5.69 billion during 2018-19.

India has an abundance of raw materials with access to 20% of world’s cattle and buffalo and 11% of the world’s goat and sheep population.  Added to this are the strengths of skilled manpower, innovative technology, increasing industry compliance to international environmental standards, and the dedicated support of the allied industries.

The leather industry is an employment intensive industry providing job to more than 4million people, mostly from the weaker sections of the society. Women employment is pre dominated in leather products industry with about 30% share. The leather industry in India has one of the youngest workforces with 55% of the workforce below 35 years of age. India is the second largest exporter of leather garments and third largest exporter of Saddlery & Harness in the world.

The major production centres for footwear, leather and leather products in India are located in the States of  Tamil Nadu – Chennai, Ambur, Ranipet, Vaniyambadi, Vellore, Pernambut, Trichy, Dindigul and Erode; West Bengal – Kolkata; Uttar Pradesh – Kanpur, Agra, Noida, Saharanpur; Maharashtra – Mumbai; Punjab – Jalandhar; Karnataka – Bengaluru; Telengana Hyderabad; Haryana – Ambala, Gurgaon, Panchkula, Karnal and Faridabad; Delhi; Madhya Pradesh – Dewas; Kerala – Kozhikode and Ernakulam / Cochin; Rajasthan; Jaipur; Jammu & Kashmir; Srinagar.

The major markets for Indian leather and leather products are USA with a share of 15.75, Germany 11.6%, UK 10.55%, Italy 6.5%, France 5.7%, Spain 4.5%, UAE 3.9%, Netherlands 3.4%, Hong Kong 3.3%, China 2.6%, Poland 2.0% and Belgium 2.0%. The leather industry has the tendency to generate 250 jobs for every $ 0.2 million investments.

These 12 countries together accounts for nearly 71.84% of India’s total leather, leather products and footwear export.

European Union accounts for 54% of India’s total export of leather and leather products.


Exports of leather and leather products touched $5.5 billion during 2018-19

Exports are segmented as:

  • Footwear export accounts for 49.23% share. Product mix with gents (55%), followed by ladies (35%) and children (10%). With an annual production of 2257 million pairs, a huge domestic retail market exists with 2021 million pairs (90%).
  • Leather garments industry: Annual production capacity of 16 million pieces. 9.04% share of India’s total leather export.
  • Leather good and accessories industry including saddlery and harness: Accounts for 23.79% share for leather goods and around 2.7% for saddlery and harness. The annual production capacity of 63 million pieces of leather articles, 52 million pairs of Industrial gloves and 12.5 million pieces of harness and saddlery items
  • Finished leather stands at 15.2%. Tanning industry accounts for an annual production of about 3 billion sq. ft.





India’s leatherindustry has grown drastically, transforming from a mere raw material supplier to a value-added product exporter.

  • Total leather good export from India stood at US$ 4.64 billion in 2019-20.
  • During April-August 2019, the major markets for Indian leather products were US (16.73 per cent), Germany (12.31 per cent), UK (11.41 per cent), Italy (7.48 per cent), and France (5.54 per cent.
  • During April-August 2019, products exported include leather footwear component (US$ 115.19 million), leather garments (US$ 190.07 million), finished leather export (US$ 237.69 million), leather footwear (US$ 937.13 million) and leather goods (US$ 584.37 million).


  • Own raw material source – About 3 billion sq ft of leather produced annually
  • Some varieties of goat / calf / sheep skins command premium position
  • Strong and eco-sustainable tanning base
  • Modernized manufacturing units
  • Trained / skilled manpower at competitive wage levels
  • World-class institutional support for Design & Product Development, HRD and R & D.
  • Presence of support industries like leather chemicals and finishing auxiliaries
  • Presence in major markets – Long Europe experience
  • Strategic location in the Asian landmass
  • Emerging strengths
  • Design development initiatives by institutions and individuals
  • Continuous modernization and technology up-gradation
  • Economic size of manufacturing units
  • Constant human resource development programme to enhance productivity
  • Increasing use of quality components
  • Shorter prototype development time
  • Delivery compliance
  • Growing domestic market for footwear and leather articles


  • Tanning Sector – Annual availability of leathers in India is about 3 billion sq.ft. India accounts for 13% of world leather production of leathers. Indian leather trends/colors are continuously being selected at the MODEUROPE Congress
  • Footwear Sector– India is Second largest footwear producer after China, with Annual Production of 2.41 billion pairs (2017). India is also the second largest consumer of footwear after China, with a consumption of 2.49 billion pairs.
  • Footwear (leather and non-leather) export accounts for about 45.48% share in Indian leather and footwear industry’s export (2018-19). The Footwear products export mix is:  Gents 58%, Ladies 30%, Children 9% and others 3%.
  • Leather Garments Sector – India is the second largest global exporter, next only to Italy, with a global market share of about 17%. Accounts for 8.23% share of India’s total export from leather sector (2018-19).
  • Leather Goods & Accessories Sector including Saddlery & Harness– India is the fifth largest global exporter. Accounts for about 28% share of Indian leather and footwear industry’s total export.


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INDIAN LEATHER INDUSTRY Council For Leather Exports. (n.d.). Retrieved August 03, 2020, from

Leather Industry in India – Export, Production, & Market … (n.d.). Retrieved August 03, 2020, from

Author: moosa.nayeem