Leather, a material pushing innovation

For Spring Summer 20, tanneries are multiplying their innovations to surprise and inspire their clients, while maintaining the quality aspect which characterises the selection at the show. And without letting up on their efforts to ensure the sustainable development of their industry.

Green is the new black

For many years already, ecology has been at the forefront of tanneries’ concerns. The investments they have made to save water and energy, process waste and effluent and eliminate dangerous substances – under the control of the REACH standards – have greatly reduced the impact of leather on the environment. In addition, many companies have now been awarded certification from various bodies working in the ecology sector, such as the Italian, Masoni. Traceability of skins is about to become a reality in France and Italy, even if it will take time for it to be generalised (see our article on ‘Traceability for tomorrow’). Tanning methods are becoming more diverse, to the detriment of mineral tanning, mainly chrome. Research by tanneries to find other ways to tan hides is enhancing the metal-free offer a little more each season. Conceria Superior reaffirmed its desire to make its production more sustainable, in order to eventually eliminate chrome completely. This season, the Italian tannery, Cilp, is launching three articles in metal-free calf leather, with different finishes that are more or less shiny: Moon, Venere and Palmetto. As is its compatriot, Victoria, which is proud to present here an article in calf leather that has been tanned synthetically then covered with a natural finish that is “soft, smooth and round enough for leather goods.” Still in Italy, the Opera tannery has confirmed its initial efforts with vegetable tanning, producing a calf suede of the highest quality.  

1 Cilp
Metal-free whole calf from Conceria Cilp

2 victoria
Metal-free whole calf from Conceria Victoria

3 opéra
Vegetable-tanned calf suede from Opera

Thinner and beautiful

Leathers tend to be finer in the warmer months to adapt to the summer heat. At Valori, the baby calf is extra thin (0.3 to 0.4) with the advantage of having a greater surface area than lamb leather. At Tanneries Haas, calf is also thinned to “0.8 or even 0.6” to be used for clothing. At Rémy Carriat, the young bull leather undergoes the same treatment (0.8 – 1 mm) for leather goods and clothing alike. At Tanneries Roux, a drummed calf leather, shaved to 0.7 to 0.9 mm can even rival lamb leather “for small leather goods, evening bags or quilted bags”. And when fineness is not possible, softness can bring lightness to the leather. Despite being vegetable tanned, the softest young bull leather item from Maisons Fortier et Masure can be used to produce stitch and turn bags “with better hold and no deforming.” The airy aspect of perforation also helps to fulfil a desire for spring lightness. The Richard tannery produces its perforated lamb in a particularly fresh nude. Perforation can also be done on stiffer leathers, such as grained two-tone calfskin from Tanneries Haas, or even on a shearling hide, such as the lamb shearling from Inducol, despite the instability that wool brings to perforation.

6 valori
Extra-fine nubuck baby calf from Valori

7 carriat
Young bull shaved to 0.8 from Rémy Carriat

10 haas
Two-tone perforated stiff calf leather from Tannerie Haas


Tanneries unashamedly assume the luxury status of their leather, occasionally with a zest of ostentation. Conceria Superior applies to a bluish calf a golden finish, toned down by a hand-applied satin shine and pleating of the skin. The uniformity of the gold finish on calf leather from Russo di Cassandrino suggests a film transfer. Rial 1957 combines a film transfer that provides shine with digital inkjet printing to decorate a lamb leather. Transfers appear once again for the half bovine leather from Conceria Martini Pio, giving a sparkly, almost disco finish. More nuanced, but just as effective is the python laminated with an iridescent film from Conceria Centrorettili.

14 superior
Pleated calf with a gold finish from Conceria Superior

16 rial
Laminated and printed lamb leather from Rial 1957

17 martini pio
Glitter transfer applied to a half bovine hide from Conceria Martini Pio

Masterly touch

Texture remains an essential quality of leather and tanneries continue to work masterfully on it. Not content simply to refine it, technicians form Tanneries Roux have also added to their aforementioned calf leather “which resembles lamb leather”, a slightly greased texture which holds the touch. Russo di Cassandrino also insists on the “round and sensual” handling of its Royal and Tokyo calf leathers. Similarly, Rémy Carriat has made an effort to perfect its textures “with finishes and mechanical work”. At Curtidos Badia, it is the “return of old-fashioned texture” achieved by controlling the finish, the drumming, striking “a balance between natural and technicity” for calf and young bull leathers with a mixed chrome and synthetic tanning process. More sophisticated, the semi-vegetable tanned (a mix of chrome and vegetable tannins) lamb leather from Indutan has a papery texture created by the magic of a specific tanning process. And one experiences a strange sensation when handling the goat suede from Alran, covered by a film that has become cracked in the drum.

23 curtidos badiaMixed-tanned bovine leather from Curtidos Badia

24 alranLaminated, cracked goat suede from Alran

Just the right amount of opportunism

Tanneries are reactive and know how to offer alternatives to take advantage of gaps in the market created by certain changes. Thus, Valori creates a very realistic illusion of crocodile leather by embossing a calf nubuck. Bonaudo revisits the exoticism of lizard skin on a small calf leather using a “more geometric” mechanical grain. Inducol offers long-haired shearling leathers giving the illusion of another fur. The Richard tannery marks a very credible deer grain on less than perfect lamb leathers which are then softened again in the drum, producing more affordable and stronger alternatives.

25 valori
Mechanical crocodile grain on a nubuck calf from Valori

26 bonaudo
Mechanical lizard grain on small calf leather from Bonaudo

27 richard
Mechanical deer grain on lamb leather from the Richard tannery

Find the complete list of exhibitors here




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