The Sheepskin Association is often asked why it has ‘Real’ in its title.
Visiting the magnificent Leathersellers’ Hall for a lunch recently as part of celebrations for the British School of Leather Technology 100 years old this year, provided a curious echo of the answer we too give to this frequently asked question.
The Real Sheepskin Association is only 20 years old but one of the main reasons the founding companies formed the Association was to defend ‘real’ sheepskin, using Trades Description legislation, from ‘wolf’ companies trying to pass off simulated fleece fabrics as the real thing.
Nothing against faux fur but no way is it comparable in quality, comfort or performance to products made from ‘real’ sheepskin.
Similarly at their formation round 1372, members of the ‘mistery’ or craft of Leathersellers’ and Pursers complained to the mayor and aldermen about the Dyers’ “deceit of the people” by dyeing sheep leather in order to pass it off as the more durable and expensive roe deer leather.
By 1388 when Richard (Dick) Whittington was mayor, members applied for regulations to prevent and punish dishonest practices. By 1444 the Leathersellers were sufficiently organized and powerful to apply to Henry VI for a charter of incorporation depicting both roe and ram as the supporting “beasts” in their official crest – which explains another f.a.q. – how a sheep and deer appear outside the official residence of the Leather Livery!