I'm just gonna post a few links to videos and articles about the leather industry. It is very sad and I honestly can't look at leather the same after finding out much of this information.
It isn't just the animals that suffer as a result of the leather/clothing industries, it's the workers, the environment and ourselves who all suffer as well.
First I suggest you watch this, it is from Earthlings and gives a good summary of the leather/clothing industry. Although many cow skins are by-products of the meat industry there are also many cows killed just for their skins, especially in India.
This next video has no narrative or anything, but gives you a good look at how tanneries operate. (The Fez Tannery is one of the biggest and oldest in the world):
And here is a video of a boy who works at the Fez Tannery. They use pigeon shit mixed in water (which the people wade through waist deep) to "soften" the rotting flesh...remember, leather IS skin; rotting, decaying skin from a live animal, and it is only "preserved" when we had toxins and chemicals to it:
And here's my last video, it's just some anti-fur/leather/wool add from PETA, still interesting however:
Here is a "Leather Facts" sheet that discusses where it comes from, the environmental hazards as well as some alternatives.
Here is just a good summary of the leather industry from the "biodegradable myth" to the transport of animals used for leather.
Here is a great website with tonnes of info about the leather industries. And yes, cows ARE cool!
Here is a PETA fact sheet that includes info on other animals that are used for leather and a list of alternative websites etc.
And Here is another PETA fact sheet about the harm to the environment etc for both the leather and wool industries.
You have to remember that leather doesn't necessarily come from cows, although the majority does. It seems that almost everyone nowadays is anti-fur but next to no one is anti-leather. Hopefully this opens your eyes a little bit to the horrors of the industry.
(BTW. I don't generally follow PETA, but researching this leather stuff lead me to those articles which have references and what not. Sometimes their facts are a bit faulty, but these ones seemed quite reliable as far as I could tell).