Martina Spetlova is the innovative leather designer using only traceable textiles

Martina Spetlova and leather innovation

Martina Spetlova is the innovative leather designer using only traceable textiles

Of all the fashion designers out there making leatherwork their niche, Martina Spetlova is surely one of the most innovative. The Central St Martins alumni is known for her intricately-woven leather jackets made from colourful strips of leather – but transparency and traceability is essential to her brand ethos, too.

In fact, it was her move towards working with leather that started her journey as a traceable designer. “Traceability and transparency have been my foundational principles since I stopped doing collections and started to concentrate on leatherwork in 2018,” she tells RLSD. “My journey in the fashion industry exposed me to the lack of transparency and accountability in sourcing and production processes.”

Born in the Czech Republic, she founded her business in London following her fashion studies. Martina moved to made-to-order pieces in 2018 to minimise waste and overproduction. Using only suppliers that are gold-rated by the Leather Working Group, each Marina Spetlova piece is fully traceable – via a blockchain chip that can be scanned by the buyer. The chip holds details about materials, sourcing, processes used and third party-verified sustainability claims. Leather aside, Martina uses tapes and zips made from recycled waste to ensure the entire garment is as sustainable as possible.

“Traceability ensures accountability and integrity throughout the supply chain,” she says. “For me, it’s about empowering consumers with knowledge about the origins and journey of their garments. Leather, with its complex supply chain, holds particular importance. Ensuring traceability in leather sourcing means advocating for ethical treatment of animals, sustainable farming practices, and fair labour conditions.”

Made from intricate strips of leather woven together to create unique shapes and patterns, each piece is a feat of craftsmanship and a reflection of Martina’s slow fashion ethos.

“My handwoven pieces are time-consuming and not suitable for wholesale, making direct collaboration with customers more valuable,” she says. “Transitioning to made-to-order aligns with my commitment to sustainability – it allows for greater customisation and a closer connection with my customers, fostering a more meaningful and intentional approach to consumption.”

But being a fully-traceable designer isn’t always easy. “One of the main challenges is navigating the complexities of supply chains to ensure complete traceability,” she says. “It requires close collaboration with my suppliers, meticulous record-keeping, and continuous monitoring to maintain transparency. Additionally, communicating the value of traceability and sustainability to consumers amidst a market saturated with fast fashion presents its own set of challenges.”

Having seen commercial success with previous partnerships with the likes of Selfridges and Soho Home, Martina today continues to work on her bespoke fashion pieces – as well as expanding into furniture and larger-scale art pieces using other sustainable and waste materials.

While she’s proud of her own moves towards sustainability, she is adamant that things need to change across the wider industry. “I envision a future where sustainability is fundamental to every aspect of the fashion industry, including leather production,” she says. “This means advocating for sustainable farming practices, responsible chemical usage and innovative technologies in leather production and its dying processes. Collaboration among stakeholders, investment in innovative technologies like blockchain, and consumer education are crucial for driving this transformation. By transparently showcasing the journey of my leather pieces, I aim to set a precedent for the industry, inspiring greater accountability and sustainability.”