Resolutely proactive, exhibitors at Première Vision Leather once again demonstrated their dynamism and creativity with a greatly renewed product offer. With losing sight of the quality for which the show and its participants are renowned, they innovated tirelessly to stimulate the imagination of designers and kickstart a new season. Natural and authentic are always the watchwords when choosing leather. But fashion trends are almost as essential, to bring a touch of freshness and novelty to the products on offer.
Sustainable development has become something of an obsession for tanneries. All are working more or less discreetly to improve their processes and produce the irreproachable items that the market wishes to see.
Visitor interests and preferences
“The show is more and more professional. Visitors prepare their visit before coming and go directly to what they are interested in,” observes Tamer Savcilioglu from the Turkish tannery Emelda. Consequently, when on the stands, professionals from labels spontaneously tend towards the items that are the most suited to their needs.
Whether for leather goods or footwear, the vegetable-tanned bovine leather by Tempesti, with its aniline or semi-aniline finish, is an essential basic. Similarly, the smooth and satiny young bull leather from France Tanneries or the smooth calfskin from Inter Leather, which has multiple uses. But fashion also has its fans and the laminated or embossed calfskin from Inter Leather, the digitally-printed cow leather from Timbrados Rubio and the buffalo or bovine suede bonded onto fabric or raffia – to give a double-sided effect – from Ta Bru easily found takers. Substantial thicknesses, from Tempesti, were popular with manufacturers of belts and dog collars.
For calfskin, classics like the Saddle Soft item, that is barely covered and very supple from Masoni Industria Conciaria, plus the stiffer but also very natural item from Tanneries Haas and the half-calf from Conceria Stella were the favourites of stylists. At Conceria Samanta, solutions that are both supple and shiny and embossed with a crocodile or lizard grain, offer a good alternative to exotic leather, being both cheaper and free of any controversy.
The specialists confirmed that chrome-tanned dipped lamb, which is so soft and natural, is still irreplaceable in the desires of stylists. Lightly covered and shiny, from Timbrados Rubio, it attracts the most pragmatic buyers. Perforations offer a popular solution for the summer season, as was reiterated by our correspondent at Bodin Joyeux. For more specific applications that require greater strength, vegetable-tanned or washed lamb leather, with a drier feel, was appreciated by some of the clients of Lider Deri. And finally, although the summer is not the high season for fur and wool, the shearling lamb leather from San Lorenzo, in bright or natural colours, was not dismissed. “More and more labels produce Spring pre-collections where they include a shearling lamb leather. That is why it is important for us to be present at the February session,” explains their spokesperson on the stand.
Goat leather also has its fans, in its classic format such as the Breteuil goat from the Jullien tannery, or in a grained version like the imitation python from Conceria Samanta.
At France Croco, the metal-free crocodile item, that is “round, supple, with a good texture and available in matt or shiny versions” was the subject of a number of requests from visitors, as was the iridescent version whose ‘wet look’ finish intrigued and then won them over. At Anaconda, our correspondent did not hide her concern about the fall in demand for python leather, which followed the announcement of Chanel and other couture houses to no longer use it. Despite this, the varnished, oiled and softened version for clothing and thicker version for shoes has not lost its appeal, with the hand-painted finish demonstrating the company’s formidable expertise.
New products and developments
Each season, tanneries put their imagination to the test in order to surprise visitors with new items that are as surprising as they are relevant.
Tempesti offers a number of mechanical grains on bovine leather, combining the natural appearance of vegetable tanning with textured decoration. The Italian tannery has also created an item in washed vegetable-tanned cow leather that is waxed and drummed, bringing a touch of softness to its catalogue. In response to the popularity of vegetable tanning, France Tanneries has added an item of young bull leather tanned this way. This tannery from the Maine et Loire region of France also presented a two-tone grained bull leather, with a black background and a silvery tip on the grain, which was very popular. Mostly aimed at leather goods, Inter Leather uses a heat transfer to give a metallic finish then crumples a calfskin item. To meet the needs of its clients as closely as possible, Ta Bru can customize skins, by impression or embossing, adding motifs and logos, in particular. Unexpected, this season’s new product from the Jullien tannery is a small water buffalo (from India) with a tight grain that is slightly larger than that of goat leather, making it an asset for leather goods.
For Spring Summer 2020, Masoni Industria Conciaria is launching a new calfskin item that is chrome tanned, firm and has a finish, for shoes. For the same purpose, Conceria Stella now offers a half-calf item that is thicker and more resistant. In contrast, Conceria Samanta has softened an item thanks to a new tanning process. Its metallic or digitally-printed items offer decoration and fashion, rather like the vinyl appearance of the half-calf from Conceria Stella, obtained through the use of a special finish. Similarly, a special finish was also used by Tanneries Haas to give a rubbery texture and a matt appearance that would seem to be best suited to leather goods.
For lamb leather, there is no shortage of ideas to spark inspiration in stylists, either. Timbrados Rubio has, for example, taken a printed lamb leather and then embroidered it with polka dots using a white cotton thread. Lider Deri has adapted the pleating method to leather with amazing results. Thanks to its great mastery of techniques, the Turkish tanner also highlights its digital and laser-printed products, which offer remarkable precision.
At Indutan, a semi-vegetable tanned lamb leather with a wax finish manages to combine a certain firmness with a discreet shine. Another example, which has been chrome tanned, is embellished with just the right amount of a matt rubbery finish. Sanlorenzo uses perforation on shearling lamb leather for an unusual and surprising result.
At France Croco, more than 80% of the collection is made up of new items. We noted the Amish pattern and an African motif on crocodile for their originality, as well as the four-tone metallic item that gives the strange impression of a bronze that has been oxidised and eroded by time.
Because tanneries know that the future of leather is intrinsically linked to environmental issues, they are sparing no efforts to produce an even more irreproachable material. Bear in mind that for the vast majority of tanneries, their task is to generate value out of a waste product that would be a terrible pollutant if it were to be destroyed and not used.
Their activities are focused around two actions: the first is to produce items without the use of metals, in order to meet the demand from clients seeking to eliminate the threat of heavy metals – even though these days this is infinitely low as a result of their competency and mastery of the tanning process. However, we are delighted to note that an increasing number of exhibitors now have a range of metal-free items in their catalogues. These include Timbrados Rubio, Inter Leather, Lider Deri, Conceria Stella, Conceria Samanta – which wants to increase its metal-free references – and Indutan whose product offer already includes 15 – 20% of chrome-free items. “Vegetable tanning is impossible for shearling lamb leather, so we have developed a special synthetic tanning process,” the representative of San Lorenzo was pleased to tell us. At Bodin Joyeux, a number of articles are produced without the use of chrome, while preserving a very regular naturalness and quality. Synthetic tanning also produces good results at France Croco with offers many items combining softness, uniform shine and resistance. A number of exhibitors are currently carrying out intense research to offer chrome-free articles worthy of the expectations and requirements of clients, and should soon join this list.
The other major focus of work for tanneries is to manage their production so as to minimise the impact of their activity on the environment. Thus, Inter leather told us about an item they have produced that is eco-responsible throughout its entire production cycle. A number of correspondents mentioned investments in machinery that is more economical in its use of water and energy and facilities that guarantee the absence or the harmlessness of any effluent released into nature. Some exhibitors, such as the Jullien or Masoni tanneries are about to build new water-treatment plants to only release pre-treated water to their local municipal water-treatment plants. Indutan and Conceria Stella already have their own plants. All, without exception, scrupulously respect the REACH regulations. As a result, they have obtained certifications from a variety of organisations, which reassures their clients. “We would like to have longer-lasting certifications,” declared the spokesperson for Bodin Joyeux. Masoni Industria Conciaria has produced a booklet outlining its various environmental efforts. However, traceability is not yet operational other than for specialists in exotic skins, who are able to authenticate their goods by going as far back as the source farms.
Leather goods remain the largest market for most tanners at Première Vision Leather. At Bodin Joyeux, France Tanneries, Ta Bru, Inter Leather, Jullien, Masoni, Tanneries Haas, Conceria Samantha, Tempesti, France Croco and Anaconda, leather goods represent at least half their business. “We could even reach 80% of our turnover from leather goods,” the manager at Bodin Joyeux told us. “But we have to keep our clothing clients in order to use the fine skins.”
Despite being more susceptible to trends, clothing is still essential, especially for specialists in dipped lamb. “Leather items are less fashionable compared to technical clothing like puffa jackets and parkas, which are often made from synthetic materials,” said the manager from Lider Deri, regretfully. “The prospects for leather clothing are reducing but companies are increasingly looking for leathers with a “clothing” appearance for their bags,” notes his counterpart from Indutan. At San Lorenzo, there is even more optimism thanks to the replacement of traditional fur by shearling lamb.
Between footwear and leather goods, the footwear market has the inconvenience of the versatility of fashion without having the advantage of the reliability of leather goods. According to those we interviewed, growth is weaker in footwear, particularly since the fashion for sneakers. However, most, if not all, have an alternative outlet for their items. Let us not forget watch straps “which are often replaced, thus requiring large quantities of leather,” said Michael Perez of France Tanneries and his counterpart at France Tanneries. And also belts, particularly for vegetable tanners, such as Tempesti.