Leather exhibition report – February 2018

A constructive atmosphere, open and engaged buyers, and a penchant for fine quality fantasy are the three highlights underlined by Leather exhibitors in their assessments of the show. “Although attendance was irregular over the three days, it was stronger than six months ago and very diverse. We met a lot of Europeans, as well as buyers from Australia, China, Japan and Poland,” said Teresa Braga of Best Brasil. For her, buyers are looking to be “surprised“, even “jolted” in terms of their expectations, and are interested in “new artistic directions.” Interests she illustrates with her own show bestseller: “a printed hair-on calfskin that’s dévoré, coloured and metallized.” In Brazil, the price of cowhides has fallen slightly, favouring its business.

By contrast, tanners in France are facing an increase in raw material prices for French calfskin. “The price hike in raw calfskin has hovered around 10% since 2017,” was the word at the Haas tanneries stand. This increase is explained by the growing rareness of very fine skins and an upsurge in veined skins that don’t meet the requirements of the major Houses. Luxury is one of the most dynamic and buoyant markets for upscale European tanneries and taweries. At the show, the Roux and Haas tanneries, the Mégisserie Richard, Opera and the Mégisserie de la Molière all confirmed a “very favourable” business climate and constructive exchanges with all major luxury brands seen at the show. “We are seeing collections moving more upmarket and a change in customer-supplier relationships. Today, clients come looking for a leather but also to share our technical skills and find precise solutions, to achieve a better output,” noted François Roques, president of the Mégisserie de la Molière.

Currently, the R & D labs of industry players are focusing their efforts on the chromium problem, with a dual purpose in mind. On the one hand, the goal is to initiate a sustainable approach, greatly desired by high-end and luxury brands. And on the other hand, to overcome the potential problem of certain mineral-pigment mutations, provoked by time or light exposure. So alternatives to chromium salts are emerging. Vegetable tannins, made from leaves, roots and tree barks (including oak, mimosa, chestnut, quebracho, etc.) are gaining ground again. Tunisia’s TMM notes a growing interest in its Free Metal line. “The environmental awareness is serious. Today, brands are ready to pay more – from 30% to 40% – for products that respect the planet,” says sales manager Hatem Chargui. While some solutions already exist, research is intensifying to find satisfactory solutions for all market segments. “This is a smart quest that opens up terrific prospects,” said Marc Deyber, sales director for Tanneries Haas.

Discover the Leather exhibitors list here.