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Zoom on the Leather major

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ITECH’s majors take the stage (1/4)

The “Leather, shoes and leather goods” specialization at ITECH 

Agnès Thomasset – Head of the Leather department- ITECH Lyon

« Without a doubt, everyone will find their place within this field: leather is a material that fascinates! It’s this passion that the teachers of the department seek to convey each day: my colleagues Laetitia Moulin and Franck Diaz join me in this mission »

At the behest of the industrialists of this sector, 1889 saw the birth of the French School of Tannery. ITECH is the direct descendent of this institution and it will celebrate this year the 120th anniversary of its leather training program. Thanks to the professionnels of the field, to this day the school still trains young engineers in leather crafts.

Leather is a natural material that comes from animal skin and is a by-product of our food industry. The consumption of meat has seen a net increase over the last several decades due to the increase and the growing wealth of the world population.

The leather industry has thus followed this important growth. In France, it is backed by our luxury brands whose leather goods products are references throughout the World. These same brands are close partners of ITECH via the recruitment of students, and through the research projects lead by these students or by our lecturer-researchers.

Our teaching covers all aspects, from the the chemistry and the skin processes coming from slaughterhouses, to the finished leather used in leather goods/shoes/car manufacturing…

The specificities of the various raw materials (bovines, sheep, goats, exotics…). Students also have a biochemistry perspective of the skin, including about collagen, this bio-polymer which is an integral part of leather.

The manufacturing process is divided into main steps, each having a specific role and putting forward sometimes complex chemical and mechanical reactions.

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The theory of these operations is seen in detail but the students also get to learn the practical side as well through a dedicated laboratory: a “mini” tannery allowing to reproduce in “miniature” all the industrial processes.

The teaching of colorimetry is also part of the specialization. It’s an important transversal skill for all majors as color remains an essential element of products destined for the fashion industry.

The teaching of leather goods and shoe making is given by the CTC (Centre Technique du Cuir, “Leather Technical Center”). The aim is to understand the theory of the products, the processes and the quality associated with these crafts. A practical part completes the theoretical teaching.

This degree opens doors for our young engineers to multiple companies, several of which are prestigious ones. One part will head towards the heart of the field through tanneries/taweries, while others will orientate themselves more toward leather goods, workshops or in product design.

Without a doubt, everyone will find their place within this field: leather is a material that fascinates! It’s this passion that the teachers of the department seek to convey each day: my colleagues Laetitia Moulin and Franck Diaz join me in this mission.

On top of the regular courses, ITECH offers “custom made” seminars for industrialists through vocational training.

Based on this expertise and on its equipment, ITECH also offers companies support on technical projects: consultancy service, studies, trials, analyses…

Agnès Thomasset – Head of the Leather department- ITECH Lyon

On a personal note, I joined ITECH in August 2018, 18 years after having left it with my degree in the bag… I had an extensive career in industry, from the formulation of textiles, to that of leather. For me, ITECH is the school of materials in all their diversity end richness. Thus, it’s with great enthusiasm and pride that I’m now applying my skills and acquired knowledge to the training and of research within the leather department.