LEATHER PRODUCTS REPORT

Summary

Once again, the show lived up to its promise to stimulate the curiosity of visitors and nourish their inspiration. Exhibitors succeeded in reinventing the classics as well as innovating with items that were both creative and realistic. Season after season, eco-responsibility has confirmed its presence as a requirement but also a major source of innovation and development. While leather goods remain the most dynamic market for most of the show’s exhibitors, footwear is not doing too badly and clothing seems to be going through a phase of recovery.

Bestsellers

Unsurprisingly, classics remain the best sellers for tanneries. Within the bovine category, thick nubuck young bull leather was in high demand at Rémy Carriat (1) for leather goods and at Psunj for footwear. Calfskin embossed with a crocodile print was very popular at Propeaux (2) and Conceria Pellegrini, and also found fans in a semi-nubuck version (Propeaux). In corrected grain, with a natural appearance and thanks to an unbeatable price, it won over mid-range leather goods and footwear makers as well as luxury labels for linings (F L Leather). Iridescent finishes are also in demand (Conceria Pellegrini) (3), as were printed shearlings from Eustaquio Canto Cano (4). Finally, for their properties and their guaranteed harmlessness, chrome-free and waterproof items from Psunj are popular with shoemakers and manufacturers of outerwear. In calf leather, the Venere item from Conceria Cilp, very natural with a round yet firm handle, is still appreciated, particularly as it is now available in a metal-free tanning. The incomparable texture of suede calf from Tanneries du Puy (5) won over more than one visitor. And baby calf with a metallic lamination from Dolmen, with or without embossing, was a winner with leather goods makers. 

In ovine leather, dipped lamb remains a must for clients. Garment makers prefer it only lightly covered, even when vegetable tanned (Propeaux), in the Domestic UK race (La Doma) or ultra-light (Riba Guixa) (6). Meanwhile leather goods makers prefer it more covered, thicker, firmer and with “hold”, whether for outer leather or as a lining (Giancarlo Caponi, Riba Guixa, Del Vacchio, Lauret). In goat leather, classic suede goat is still in vogue and even dares to adopt bright and intense colours (Jose Perez Hernandez). Lastly, in the exotic leather section, the naturally shiny finish of crocodile leather remains its strongest asset for experienced and demanding buyers (La Patrie) (7).

1/ Nubuck young bull by Rémy Carriat

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2/ Crocodile embossed calfskin from Propeaux

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3/ Calfskin with an iridescent finish from Conceria Pellegrini

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4/ Printed shearling calf from Eustaquio Canto Cano

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5/ Suede calf from Tanneries du Puy

 

6/ Ultra-light lambskin from Riba Guixa

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7/ Natural shiny finish on crocodile from La Patrie

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Innovations

In summer like in winter, tanneries always know how to innovate and this season they once again showed off some great discoveries to their clients. Large hide tanneries have been busy. To address the demand for eco-responsible leather, Propeaux has added items in vegetable-tanned calf leather to its catalogue, Psunj has produced an item in chrome-free bull leather and Conceria Cilp offers a metal-free calf leather. Psunj, again, has managed to reconcile waterproof resistance and natural grain in a cow leather item that will delight bag makers (8). After some weeks of research, the natural bull leathers from Rémy Carriat have gained in sensuality and roundness, without relinquishing their thickness (9). At Conceria Pellegrini, calf leather is covered with a delicate pearly finish (10) or a digital print with incredible precision. FL Leather has constituted a stock of smooth or embossed calfskin leathers, in forty-five colours, making it possible to place individual orders. It has also produced a very competitive item, with a pigmented corrected grain, and with a very convincing texture and appearance. In the same spirit of combining price and quality, Jose Perez Hernandez offers attractive suede items in Argentinian calf leather.

Elsewhere in calf leather, the changes are more cautious. Conceria Cilp has produced a marbled finish or buffalo (11) and shagreen (12) embossings that are as realistic as they are high quality. Dolmen offers shoemakers a suede baby calf (13). Propeaux plays the varnished card. Conceria Superior is bolder with a mirror-effect liquid laminated finish, a colour gradient look and some very attractive pleating (14).

To attract their clients, small animal tanneries are also very active. But, as with calf leather, their innovations are sober: embossing at Bodin Joyeux or at Del Vacchio, a metallic or pearly finish from Lauret, extreme lightness at Riba Guixa. The main aim of these propositions is to meet client expectations. With its metal-free crumpled lamb leather, Del Vacchio is being bolder (15). The artisanal work of Giancarlo Caponi, so refined and inventive, made of embroidery, hand-painting, weaving and hand-stitched patchwork with fine strips of leather, is even more unusual (16,17,18), As for inclusions of leaves and feathers from Colombier, they are literally avant-garde. (19). For its shearling lamb leathers, La Doma has produced pastel tones which are adventurous to say the least, given how difficult it is to dye shearling leathers. In goat leather, Eustaquio Canto Cano uses iridescent film transfers (20) which it knows to be popular with leather goods makers and shoemakers. And Jose Perez Hernandez is betting on evening wear with unbridled fashion follies such as black flocking on golden finishes (21) or iridescent laminates.

Unexpectedly but actually rather logically, exotic leathers are also rather moderate in their innovations. Examples include a dyed crocodile and a hand-applied patina from La Patrie, while the placed gilding from Dolmen is also rather discreet (22).

8/ Natural grain waterproof cow leather from Psunj

9/  Very natural thick bull leather from Rémy Carriat

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10/ Calfskin with a pearly finish from  Conceria Pellegrini

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11- 12 / Calfskin embossed with a buffalo or shagreen grain from Conceria Cilp

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 13 / Baby calf suede from Dolmen

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14 / Pleated calf with colour gradient finish from Conceria Superior

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 15 / Crumpled lamb leather, metal-free tanning, from Del Vacchio

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 16 17 18 /Artisanal worked lamb leather (woven, painted and embroidered, patchwork) from Giancarlo Caponi

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19/ Lamb leather with an inclusion of leaves from Colombier

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20/ Laminated iridescent goat leather from Eustaquio Canto Cano

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21 / Gilded, flocked goat leather from Jose Perez Hernandez

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22 / Placed gilding on python leather from Dolmen

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Developments

Exhibitors told us that they would wait for the end of Linea Pelle before revealing their future developments. However, they did agree to give us some ideas of what was to come. Many underlined the priority for sustainable development in their future, but other avenues were also envisaged. For example, FL Leather wants to further improve its finishes to obtain a calfskin leather that is wholly smooth and free of defects at an attractive price. “We would like to create colour gradient finishes,” said our correspondent from Conceria Pellegrini. La Doma wants to widen its range of printed patterns on shearling lamb leather (23). At Lauret, the accent will be placed on embossed or printed fashion patterns that attract the eye of their regular customers…even if “they then fall back on the classics”. On its goat leathers for women’s footwear, Jose Perez Hernandez declares they want “to pursue the direction of sophistication, shine and metallic finishes, for a chic and festive style.” Meanwhile, La Patrie is focusing on more softness for its crocodile skins, even if they are destined for leather goods.

 

23 /Printed shearling lamb leather from La Doma

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Sustainable development

Under pressure from their clients, but also from public opinion, all tanners are adopting ecological work practices. And for all of them, sustainable development is not only essential for the future of their profession, but also a requirement if leather is to remain in favour with labels and consumers. More and more tanneries now have eco-responsible ranges offering chrome-free tanning (Riba Guixa, Conceria Pellegrini) or metal-free tanning (Psunj, Conceria Cilp, Lauret, La Patrie) using synthetic and plant tannins. Indeed, Del Vacchio intends to produce all its items using metal-free vegetable tanning (24). Dolmen has just produced a metal-free baby calf leather in response to a request from a leather goods maker client. FL Leather is about to produce its first metal-free references. Giancarlo Caponi has perfected the vegetable tanning of some of its lamb leathers, to make them very soft and light-resistant, even in pale shades. Eustaquio Canto Cano has managed to reconcile chrome-free tanning and fashion. “We also want to produce more ecological finishes,” say Conceria Pellegrini. Psunj has refined a system of tanning using olive oil that produce soft and supple bovine leather, ideal for children’s shoes. More radically, Propeaux and Eustaquio Canto Cano offer reconstituted leather made from ground leather offcuts.

Processes are another aspect of the ecological question that tanners cannot overlook. “For more than 15 years, we have been aware of the importance of the harmlessness of leathers and we have reduced our use of chemicals,” the manager from Lauret tells us. The REACH standards set out by the European Union have resulted in greater control and an inevitable reduction in the use of chemicals. Tanneries exhibiting at Première Vision Leather have developed extremely efficient water treatment plants that guarantee a very high degree of chrome filtration. Use of water, electricity, gas, power and chemicals are minimised. “One person is Spain is in charge of production and product quality,” our correspond from Jose Perez Hernandez tells us. This tannery works with goat skins from Nigeria, that are tanned in Italy, as well as calf leather from Argentina. Further upstream, traceability of hides is gradually improving. “The production of Entrefino is limited to a restricted area which makes traceability easier,” notes the manager of Lauret. For Conceria Cilp, “this question also includes the conditions under which the animals are farmed.”

At the end of the chain, certifications attest to the responsibility of tanneries and reassure their clients. At Propeaux, three-quarters of their items have LWG certification. Del Vacchio has ICEC certification and is in the process of obtaining LWG certification, as is Conceria Pellegrini. Meanwhile La Patrie is proud of its LWG and ISO 14001 certification. One anonymous tannery nevertheless told us that “customers are not asking questions about this” and that “they don’t seem particularly interested in chrome-free leather for the moment.” It is true that chrome tanning if well managed does not present any risk for people or the environment and that it produces particularly good quality leather. It is important to remember this in these times of media confusion.

24 / Metal-free nubuck lamb leather for clothing from Del Vacchio

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Markets and outlets

According to our correspondents the perceptions of the various markets for leather differ. However, some general trends can be identified, such as the dynamism of the leather goods sector, “driven by exports”, which was underlined by Conceria Cilp, Rémy Carriat, Tanneries du Puy, FL Leather and Del Vacchio. Others are more reserved, describing it as “stable” (Propeaux, Lauret, Riba Guixa). For Dolmen and La Patrie, which supplies the sector with exotic leathers, the market is slowing slightly. “Labels are increasingly asking for traceability of leathers,” the former told us. “Crocodile leather is a little less present in collections,” noted the latter, regretfully.

Certain interviewees had the impression that the footwear market is showing signs of a revival. “It is still looking for innovation but is also demanding certifications,” observes the manager from Psunj. This thirst for innovation is also noted by Conceria Pellegrini as a sign of strength. “The demand from luxury Italian labels is strong,” Del Vacchio told us. “It remains our largest market,” says Giancarlo Caponi. But other suppliers feel that the footwear market is struggling. “The footwear market is in difficulty; factories are closing in Spain. Sneakers are doing well but they are made in Asia,” laments Eustaquio Canto Cano. A similar assessment is also made by Dolmen and FL Leather.

If the collections are anything to go by, leather clothing is holding up. It may not always be a regular, growing feature, but it remains a major vector for labels to demonstrate their expertise and their prestige. “It is a market of quality and visibility,” confirms Giancarlo Caponi. “And it seems to be recovering. Labels like The Kooples are using leather again,” notes the manager of Propeaux.After two or three years of progress, it has stabilised,” analyses the manager of La Doma. “We supply a number of South Korean labels,” Del Vacchio tells us. However, for Riba Guixa, clothing remains a “fluctuating” outlet.

 

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