Colours, finishings, developments, discover the buyers’ favourite leather.
Products and finishes: the highlights of the season
Despite the profusion of items presented by tanneries and their abundant creativity, buyers often asked for modifications to exactly achieve their ideas. Some wanted more supple, more natural or softer leathers; others preferred stiffer, coated or fashion-oriented items. However, some trends did emerge during these three days of intense activity.
In the ovine category, dipped lamb remains essential; but certain visitors expressed a desire to see a shinier version, including with a finish that made it less fragile, such as a metallic finish for example. There is still strong demand for stretch lamb, as well as washable lamb for yokes in the ready-to-wear sector. Lamb nubuck was the subject of a certain desire, despite its fragility. Despite the summer focus of this edition, long haired merinillo was still popular. One size larger, smooth sheep leather proved to be an affordable solution for clothing, providing it is thin enough. We also saw it varnished, printed with a mechanical grain, screen-printed and even scratched with tiny surface cuts, such as from Tannery Arena.
Goat leather that has been crisped in the drum, left natural or given a finish, has not lost its appeal. Goat leather that had been polished to a shine had its fans, as did a fashion version, given sequins through lamination, for the boldest clients.
With bovine leathers, calf is still the nec plus ultra for leather goods, and particularly for footwear. Especially as tanneries can adapt the shine and texture on request, and make it softer through a “simple” drumming. Although of course, the smooth and barely coated version is the most popular. But a chemical crispiness that accentuates the grain is also appreciated. As is the boarding finish, presented by Tanneries Roux, which gives it a natural relief. “We are often asked for combinations of the various articles in our collection,” notes Michèle Baudens, Business Development director of the Drome-based company. As it is softer, finer and larger than lamb leather, baby calf is even more unanimously appreciated because so few companies offer it. In contrast, large bovine hides are always popular in their full grain and soft version, or customised using a film.
Lastly, in the exotic leather section, crocodile was still very popular, particularly in its clothing version, which is very fine and soft. Python leather, which is more sensitive to the whims of the fashion world, continues to reinvent itself, with some very elaborate and expensive interventions.
Lastly, salmon leather, in a transparent or metallic finish, is competing more and more with reptile leather.
Novalpina Atlantic Leather
Other than the perennial classics, namely black, brown, cognac, camel and gold, the pastel colours offered by certain tanneries generated a lot of interest from many visitors. “Although brands often impose their choice of colours, we also have to propose a range of colours that tempts them,” one professional told us. The palette of cream, ivory and beige from Giancarlocaponi, for example, was a great success. Pearly grey, a very summery finish, also captured the attention, as did azure blue and a bolder pink
Fedi Silvano Leather
Meanwhile metallic finishes continued to delight the least-conventional stylists.
Projects and developments
While certain tanneries say they are reactive to market trends, others take a proactive approach to stimulate the desires of their clients and inspire their creativity. Of course, the classics can always be improved and this is what the most prudent among them are gambling on. But many are more audacious and truly play their role of partner to labels looking for new metamorphoses for leather. In this area, the example of Giancarlocaponi reveals their fervent desire to innovate: “we want to offer even more originality, particularly with embroidered panels that we have made in India,” declares the R&D director, Antonella Mattesini.
Tanners of smaller hides tell us they want to lighten leathers even more and work on the flesh side, through buffing or finishing, to make them reversible. They would even go so far as to put a finish on dipped leather, providing they can improve the softness so it can be used for clothing. Similarly, there is a desire to broaden the selection of films, mechanical grains, digital printing designs and surface work (such as cuts) using ever more sophisticated machines that transform the appearances of the leather whilst at the same time correcting any imperfections in the grain. “We are developing more films, particularly metallic ones. Although they have a slight impact on the texture, they are a more economical solution than finishes,” explains Carlees Blancfort from Curtidos Bassols. Platin Deri, the double-sided specialist, wants to increase its range of younger lamb leathers, whose skins are definitely smaller but they are also lighter, softer and “look even more luxurious”, as the company boss, Faik Kutuk explains.
For goat leather, the origin is the most important factor and according to its country of import, its appearance can vary quite substantially, notwithstanding any quality criteria. “We want to diversify our suppliers even more,” explains the sales director for Marinelli Walter, Paulo Santarelli. “Some houses refuse leathers from certain origins.” Another specialist tells us that the texture and softness can be perfected even further, to better rival lamb leather.
The tanneries working with large hides are seeking to find more natural and more functional finishes that are easier for tailors to use. Digital printing is also the focus of a certain amount of research (for new patterns, new inks) in order to meet the growing demand for exclusivity from labels.
And finally, to offer a wider selection of first-choice leathers to their clients, a large number of tanneries of all types of leather (lamb, goat, calf, exotics) are seeking to improve their supply chains with ever more reliable suppliers.
The tanners exhibiting at Première Vision Leather all follow European and national regulations to the letter, which is already a solid guarantee for the environmental aspects of their production. Many offer very credible certifications such as ISO 9001 or ISO 14001, which specifically concerns environmental protection. EMAS regulation is also on the programme for many of them, which leads to a notable reduction in their environmental impact in terms of energy consumption and use of resources. They all also follow the Reach standards on the detection of dangerous substances. “We are working with our suppliers of chemical products to eliminate any pollutants,” one exhibitor told us. But many go way beyond the legal requirements and are carrying out intensive research in order to be even more “green”. Among the major groups, in particularly, some companies have a HSE or QSE department entirely dedicated to safety and the environment.
Chrome tanning is perfectly mastered and controlled, which practically cancels out all the risks. “The chrome is precipitated and recovered, and the wastewater is processed and recycled,” an exhibitor reminds us. However, a number of tanners – as a result of pressure from certain houses, it has to be said – are trying to reduce their use of chrome. And they want to achieve this with vegetable tanning first. They are therefore doubling their efforts to perfect dyeing vegetable tanned leather, improving resistance to light and heat, and the softness of the hides. “We are in the process of perfecting biodegradable leathers,” Antonella Mattesini from Giancarlocaponi tells us. “Our German partner, Ecopell, is very advanced in ecological terms, as its entire production chain is environmentally friendly, from the organic farms that provide the hides, to the organic colourants in the dyes, plus the use of vegetable tannins of course,” explains Alexandre Mazurier of Maison Fichet. Processes are also the subject of improvement, particularly settling basins and investments “in new drums or more effective finishing machines” contribute to efforts to produce more environmentally-friendly leathers. “One of our partners is replacing his sourcing from Bangladesh with suppliers from Argentina, to give more guarantees,” adds the manager from Maison Fichet. In parallel, research on synthetic tanning is ongoing to improve the results and competitiveness, which is still poorer than that of other tanning methods. But each player is keen to maintain their secrets and safeguard the work that is already underway.
PREMIERE VISION LEATHER – HALL 3