Première Vision Leather remains the unmissable leather event for premium labels and their suppliers. Indeed, within the leather goods sector, the most prolific user of leather, its reputation is unique.
Caution is still the watchword and this session did not suggest any spectacular change in the ranges on offer. Instead the emphasis is on improving already very refined classics, the continuation of trends that have already been set in motion and also the optimisation of an industry that it still quite fragile.
Sustainable development started to emerge in the tannery sector a few years back and its effects are now perceptible. Tanneries are able to provide brands with answers to many types of questions, which demonstrates not only their willingness but, in fact, a profound transformation of the industry.
This season’s trends
The demand for all that is natural was confirmed again this season, proof of a definite interest in leather from fashion brands.This desire for authenticity is particularly strong for calf leather: softened by drumming, better nourished, in more substantial thicknesses between 1.2 and 1.4 mm, it boasts its natural grain and a nappa texture that leather goods makers simply relish. The only addition is sometimes a light finish and a vegetable re-tanning that gives it greater stiffness. In bovine leathers, the desire for natural products also predominates, although tempered by a certain desire for smoothness, for a slightly raised grain with young bull leather or a less marked grain for calfskin. Vegetable tanned calf leather is also more supple and thus better suited to leather goods. With lamb leathers, the demand for a pure aniline finish reveals the desire to “get back to the real product,” according to the specialist, Bodin Joyeux; a smooth and soft texture in thicknesses of around one millimetre meet the criteria for leather goods and even for sneakers, which are so popular with consumers today.
Despite all this, it is still acceptable to use artifices to enhance lower grade skins and offer stylists creativity. At Russkaya Kozha, the grained and drummed bovine leather, with its metallic lamination on the flesh side, generated a certain interest from prestigious leather goods makers. Not without depth, bovine items with a corrected grain and a pigmented finish for greater shine and resistance from the Italian tannery, Dani, were a roaring success in leather goods. In ovine leather, lacquered finishes for leather goods, or cracked lacquer for clothing, as well as vintage washed appearances are breathing new life into this category. Suede, in lamb leather as well as goat, is still greatly appreciated, particularly for clothing where it combines with a quality grain side for a reversible effect. According to the specialist Mario Brillanti from the Italian tannery Zabri, the suede split or the fashion versions that were screen-printed, laminated or given a embossed finish like weaving, still have a good future in the footwear and leather goods sectors.
Metallization, which is still popular for all species, is particularly present in exotic leathers and particularly for python by lamination. Hand-painted by Reptilis, it still has the same captivating effect on fans of this product. In terms of crocodile leather, the Niloticus wins the battle for demand thanks to its optimal value for money and quality.
Natural calf leather from Tanneries Roux
Dipped lamb from Bodin Joyeux
Soft vegetable-tanned bovine leather from Volpi
Varnished calf flesh split and suede from Opéra
Metallic python from Dolmen
Metallic crocodile leather from Whiteline
Positioned on the premium and luxury segments, Première Vision Leather welcomes a number of tanneries whose product range is made up of beautiful classics whose quality can only be improved upon by an increase in first choice raw hides. This is a vast problem and the solution does not really lie with the tanneries. As perfectionists, our professionals nevertheless strive to enhance their natural articles with even more sensual textures, even more regular grains, a softness that is even more luminous and they play with thickness in order to best suit their end product, be it leather goods, clothing or footwear. Small animal tanneries, in particular, tend to offer thicker or firmer articles – that have undergone vegetable re-tanning for example – more suitable for small leather goods. Thanks to a recurring demand for suede, they are also seeking to enlarge their collections in this direction.
But it they are also turning to fashion finishes, developing articles that will satisfy and astonish their customers. “We must also develop more affordable articles, using lower grade hides, with more finishes,” Muhammed Us from Sibel told us. “Houses are increasingly demanding, which increases the number of lower grade leathers used. The art of tanning is to know how to get the best out of these articles,” adds Thomas Eberhard from Bodin Joyeux A number of exhibitors told us they were creating new plates in order to print new designs on their skins. The film transfer process is also the subject of intense research to offer more metallic items, which have been in strong demand for the last two seasons, on bovine, lamb and even python skins, as well as iridescent finishes for summer. The future, at least in the short term, is clearly shiny. Patent lamb leather, whether stretch or not, sometimes cracked, is being prepared in the laboratories of the small animal tanneries. Colour is also a focus of research for many of those interviewed, with sponge-dyed lamb leathers from Cetinkaya for example, amber calf leathers from Tannerie Roux, which had been coloured with markings applied using a cylinder, ever more luxurious hand-painted python skins from Reptilis and two-tone crocodile leathers from Whiteline. Textures are also on our exhibitors’ research programmes, both in terms of softness and natural feels as well as in the area of artifices, with rubbery textures for example.
Thick lamb leather (1.1mm) for footwear from Mégisserie Richard
Two-tone metallic finish using lamination on bovine from Gruppo Mastrotto
Hand-painted python from Reptilis
Summer is inevitably the season for bright and pastel shades, to which visitors headed spontaneously, despite the fact that their colour choices for the season have not necessarily been decided upon at the time of the show. Mint green, sky blue, coral pink, buttercup yellow and turquoise particularly stood out. All the shades of blue are present and particularly those inspired by denim. More autumnal hues such as claret, gold, chocolate and cactus green were also present. Black and white are still unsurpassed and had their place in this palette.
Mint green dipped lamb from Mégisserie Alric
Buttercup yellow calf leather from Annonay
Yellow or blue crocodile leather from Italven Pelli
Although it is not an urgent and systematic demand from brands, sustainable development is a concern upon which tanneries have acted. At all stages of their production process, they strive to put in place modifications that allow them to reduce the ecological footprint of their products. This starts with the purchase of raw materials, which they ensure they can identify in order to have information in the event of a dispute. By respecting the Reach standards, they eliminate dangerous chemical products, no longer present during the production process or as residues that may remain on the leathers. At Bodin Joyeux, one position is entirely dedicated to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). A number of companies, such as Ecopell 2000 or Ckd Cetinkaya have moved into new or recently-built plants that perform better and are more environmentally friendly. Other companies are gradually renewing their machines with tools that consume less energy. Some, like Curtidos Bassols, are making the most of being based in a sunny region to use renewable energies, solar in this case. Water treatment plants have become essential partners for tanneries. The plant at Santa Croce in Tuscany is renowned for its effective filtering and releases water of irreproachable purity.
Tanning is a crucial stage in the production of finished leather, and is an essential stage in improving the sustainability of products. Although when it is managed properly chrome tanning is not dangerous, it is a source of concern for brands. Tanneries are responding to this aversion by trying to replace the unpopular metal, by using vegetable tannins firstly, in line with ancestral tradition, but also using synthetic agents as well, producing the famous wet white. Some tanneries have gone even further in the process, such as Ambassador, Dani or Curtidos Bassols, and already include items made from synthetic tanning in their collections. Many more are in the development stage of achieving characteristics such as heat and UV resistance, colour testing and rub-resistance, etc. that are at least equivalent to chrome tanned leathers. But it’s not an easy process! Even on crocodile and python skins, tests are underway to move to synthetic tanning agents.
At present, certifications such as ISO 14001, ICEC, EMAS or the international LWG label offer brand credible guarantees.
PREMIERE VISION LEATHER