Season products report
Première Vision Leather’s exhibitors are resilient to the vagaries of fashion and the changing economic climate, and once again demonstrated their dynamism and their creativity in offering ever more solutions for their clients. Although they continue to produce and even improve their sure-fire winners, they are also constantly innovating to find new finishes, new properties and to refine processes in order to achieve more rational and ecological production. Visitors know that by coming to Première Vision Leather, they are sure to find products that will enhance their collections.
Products and finishes: this season’s hits
The reputation of Première Vision Leather and its exhibitors is firmly established with their loyal and knowledgeable visitors, who come to the show with clear ideas and projects in mind, looking for solutions from the specialists. This prompted Jean-Charles Duchêne from Alric to suggest that “we have to maintain our strengths and our level of quality and reliability, as this is so important to our customers”. However, buyers and stylists do not deny themselves the pleasure of unearthing new tanneries and are happy to be inspired by their latest discoveries.
Dipped lamb, in its most traditional and authentic versions, maintained its popularity with buyers for its silky, soft texture and its rich colour palette, particularly in bright shades. In thin sheets, it is not only limited to glove making and generated a lot of interest from stylists. For the more erudite, the mixed races were essential. Bonded onto a stretch fabric, they acquire properties that caught the eye of shoe makers. With chemical crisping and drumming, they take on a grained appearance that is as attractive as it is astonishing. With its dense and silky wool, merino remains the nec plus ultra in shearling.
Classic and always in fashion, smooth calf with an aniline finish never fails to achieve great and worthy success, particularly in its most noble version, box leather. “It is still a must for luxury leather goods and footwear”, says Gianfilippo Seitesoldi from Conceria Miura.
As marginal as it is original, baby calf caught the attention of the most prestigious brands, particularly in a suede finish and with bright colours.
In terms of goat leather, buyers continue to appreciate suede goat, while its natural grained and cork finishes are also popular.
In the bovine sector, its natural smoothness coupled with a certain suppleness was the winning combination, although this did not limit the success of fashion finishes, notably snake skin patterns created using a mechanical grain or a digital print. Cow or vachetta nubuck was also very popular with our panel. Lastly, young bull leather marked with a mechanical small grain seems to be truly interesting for the leather goods sector.
Among the exotic skins, crocodile remains at the top of the hierarchy of precious hides. The stands of specialist producers were never empty. It has to be said that they are constantly outdoing each other for inventiveness, giving crocodile leather the most amazing appearances. We even saw it gilded with gold leaf from Cuir de Lagny. But in terms of originality, python is the winner with its laminated or hand-painted fashion finishes.
Essential in winter collections, fur did not only express its natural beauty. It also combined with fabrics or blended species using sophisticated techniques and special assemblies. Round and infinitely soft, shaven, shorn fox fur could be the next It-product for fashion victims.
By caution as much as by tradition, classic leather colours remained the most popular. Black of course, and naturals too, from beige to brown via taupe, camel, cognac and chestnut dominate the palette. Blues with navy at the head, in more or less dark shades, but also slate, denim, sky and Klein, are still popular with professionals. Grey has not fallen out of favour either, but there is also a penchant for bright red and claret to enhance skins. Some even dared to adopt bolder colour choices, with orange, purple and pale green.
Projects and developments
“The situation is complicated and it is difficult to plan medium or long term developments,” one exhibitor told us. And yet, tanneries have to constantly innovate and develop their ranges in order to surprise creators and inspire their collections. Two opposing trends stood out in the responses from the panel of tanneries. On the one hand, some want to perfect their classics: “produce a more supple, more transparent, more elegant bovine leather,” one told us; “improve the quality of skins and offer more first-choice articles,” declared another; “offer more aniline finishes, either smooth or with a mechanical grain,” a third told us, discussing the young bull leather they produce. On the other hand, exhibitors emphasised the need to be creative in their approach and want to intensify it further. Using mechanical or digital printing, fashion specialists are adding to their collections. “In light of what is in demand, we have to increase the number of finishes, using transfers in particular,” explained Jérémie Meiler, from Rial 1957. “We are going to create even more fashionable, innovative products such as these snakeskin patchworks or these fur-on-fur embroideries,” is the prediction from Federico Albarello. Functionality is also a development trend for many companies, with waterproof, water-repellent, washable or coated leathers, better able to resist a variety of attacks. And the ancestral art of vegetable tanning continues to develop, with some tanneries seeking to increase production.
Labels are increasingly asking tanneries to adopt cleaner production techniques. Using less chrome, less chemicals, consuming less energy, with waste processing and recycling. “Our clients come and inspect our factory to see how we produce our items,” José Maria Saz from the Spanish tannery Sarco told us. Some tanneries have opted for vegetable tanning, like Emelda Tannery, which wants to make its tanned skins even softer, thinner and in a wider range of colours. At Sovos Grosjean, the trend is also to use more vegetable tanning to meet demand. “We have experimented with tanning using leaves and tree bark, to be even more environmentally friendly and not encourage the chopping down of trees,” explained Jean-Charles Duchêne from Alric. Others have adopted synthetic tanning, and in this area the Italian tannery Dani, sets the example: since 2013, it has undergone a complete transformation of its production and has been rewarded by certification from Italian, French and German organisations. “We want to be an ecological tannery,” explained Sonia Zordan, the representative at Première Vision Leather. “In 2017 and 2018, we will reduce the use of chemical products even further and reduce our energy consumption.” However, a number of participants in this report told us that although labels make inquiries and compare items, in the end they often revert to chrome-tanned leathers which they consider to be more attractive and to offer better performance.