Officially the newest member of the Real Sheepskin Association

Sheepland Sheepskin Blog 05

Although we have been in manufacturing and crafting sheepskin products since way back in 1986 we have only just become an official member of the prestigious Real Sheepskin Association. With the ever increasing market for sheepskin products it can get harder and harder for customers to feel confident that they are dealing with a trusted genuine sheepskin manufacturer. The RSA has a member directory which helps to restore the confidence to buyers and suppliers that they are in fact the “real deal”.

The Real Sheepskin Association or RSA is a volunteer organisation that consists of all aspects of the sheepskin production from Tanners to Retailers, all with the same commitment: to provide quality sheepskin products and services for everyone.

The RSA was set up at the end of the 1980’s after recognising that the sheepskin industry was tired, confused and stuck in a rut. This was the era of Vivienne Westwood and much of the revival of the sheepskin Industry was down to her with her models wearing Sheepskin shorts and other sheepskin products that were alternative and unique. This was a turning point as before during the 1970’s and 80’s Sheepskin was mainly used for coats or boots, now Vivienne had introduced this idea that sheepskin could be fashionable. The RSA have several aims that are all directed to protecting the industry, their first aim is to promote the use of real sheepskin. Many retailers will choose cheaper alternatives that might look similar but not using quality sheepskin or helping to protect the British Sheepskin Industry. Many of their cliental will not know the difference, and the RSA are dedicated to promote the uses of real sheepskin the benefits that you get like it is a natural insulator which is perfect in Britain with its ever changing weather!

The RSA is committed to the future of the sheepskin Industry as it invests in young graduate designers at the Sheepskin Design Awards at Graduate Fashion Week and the Future of Design Event at Islington through sponsorship. In 2010 the RSA chose to sponsor Adelaide Coombes who was currently studying at Buckingham New University, the RSA website celebrates why she was awarded the £500 sponsorship. Peter Robinson the secretary of the Real Sheepskin Association quotes: ‘Adelaide’s work is among the most outstanding we have come across in 20 years of sponsoring students’ work’. Since this excellent sponsorship she has become a well known name and her website showcases her unique talent. Adelaide shares our passion for constantly finding more uses for sheepskin, she said ‘I hope I have achieved my aim and discovered new ways of using sheepskin in an innovative way. I would love to develop these products further because I see a place in the market for them as they are unusual and creative.’

It is important to the RSA and us here at Sheepland that the sheepskin industry does not decline further than it already has. We were very sad to see our local sheepskin tannery Fenland close in 2011, a real blow for the local area and the market as a whole. As Peter Robinson explains ‘The demise of UK sheepskin tanning capacity with the resultant loss of 2000 years of sheepskin processing skills and a 5,000 employment base’. Fenland based in Bridgwater and Redruth was a leading tannery and had been in operation for more than 20 years. Fenland was processing 50,000 raw sheepskins a year, and company in China was doing 33,000 a day. Sadly this is the reality so in order to preserve the British Sheepskin Industry we have to protect the knowledge of 2,000 years.

The RSA currently lists the current 20 members; these are highly effective and are responsible for the preservation of the sheepskins fortunes over the last decade.

We are very happy here to become part of the RSA family, and we hope to keep providing our customers with quality sheepskin for as long as possible.