MILAN — Lineapelle, the international exhibition of leather, accessories, components, fabrics and synthetics, closed to positive forecasts despite weak and volatile international prices for calf-, sheep- and goatskins, and the declining availability of bovine hides.
The three-day trade show of fall 2016 tannery leather trends offered 747 Italian exhibitors and 425 from abroad. More than 20,000 visitors attended, according to show organizers.
“Tanning and leather is a very important Italian industry and a large factor in the strength of Made in Italy,” said Riccardo Monti, president of the Italian Trade Commission, a Lineapelle sponsor. “It’s a very important ecosystem with a unique manufacturing base and deep roots — no country in Europe has anything similar. It exports almost 10 billion euros [$11.2 billion, at current exchange] a year.”
Held at the Milano-Rho Fiera venue, adjacent to the Milan Expo 2015 Universal Exposition (which runs through Oct. 31), Lineapelle chief executive officer Salvatore Mercogliano credited the lively atmosphere to the “Expo Effect,” noting that visitors doubled up on visiting the two fairs. He also credited attendance overflows from the World Leather Congress’ second edition, a one-day event organized by the Italian Tanners’ Association, which addressed trends and future challenges of the International Congress of Tanners, which boasts aggregate turnover of $50 billion.
“Our exhibitors are happy because of the high quality of visitors,” said Mercogliano. “We’re confident that this edition signifies a return to a more positive market, especially regarding the presence of luxury fashion houses.”
Italian tanners produce 75 percent of the European output and account for 18 percent of worldwide leather production. Additionally, they purchase 24 percent of raw materials and semi-tanned skins, and sell 26 percent of finished leathers for international export, of which 187 million euros ($209 million) is exported to the U.S. In the first quarter of 2015, exports to America increased 10 percent from 2014. Last year, Italy imported raw hides and semi-tanned skins from the U.S. worth about 234 million euros, or $311 million at average exchange.
With editions in cities such as London, Seoul and New York, Monti is determined to raise the fair’s international profile. “We want to reach every corner of the world,” he said, citing global partnerships, such as one with the Turkish Leather Council.
Italian tannery Conceria Superior, a fair exhibitor, has been producing and distributing calfskin and calf hides to Italian and French luxury fashion houses since 1962 from its Santa Croce Sull’Arno headquarters. In October 2014, in a joint venture with Prada, it acquired the historic French tannery, Tannerie Limoges (originally known as Tannerie Mégisserie Hervy). Besides producing leather for footwear, its most requested item is a smooth, silky, elastic calf of different finishes for handbags and leather accessories, which can be reproduced in unlimited, bespoke colors. Four fall 2016 color palettes reinvented natural shades and bases in rich, pale, classic and capricious variations. Two lines were launched at the fair: Superior City, an accessible collection of 12 calf hides at slightly lower gradations, and a metal-free, non-toxic collection of three calf hides to address environmental responsibility.
The Antiba Italian tannery has produced and supplied tanned goat, calf and lamb hides for top fashion houses from its base, also in Santa Croce Sull’Arno, since 1987. Its most requested product, Sugar Lux — a soft, flexible goat in different weights and finishes such as shiny, metallic, matte, rubber and laminated — is used for its core business of handbags, shoes and small leather accessories. Sober color trends featured smoky gradations of gray, dusty rose and brown.
Since 1977, the core product of Italian tannery Sciarada, based in Castelfranco di Sotto, is suede culled from bovine and calf for shoes, clothes and small leather accessories. With a turnover of 30 million euros ($33.6 million), 60 percent of its production is for domestic luxury brands. Evergreen Softy Extra is a traditional finish, sporty, lightweight calf suede in 80-plus colors. Dark gray and bright sienna dominated fall palettes. Although radical finishes such as textured animal prints, high-luster metallic and 3-D effects have fallen out of fashion, a large range of fantasy effects comprise its Laboratory line.
On the first night of the show, at Teatro Litta, Monti and Mercogliano hosted the premiere of an ITC-commissioned short film, “I Come From,” which traced leather and tanning manufacturing from the ancient Roman Empire and Pompeii to the modern era, set to an operatic soundtrack and period costumes with Italian actor Ricky Tognazzi. The fair took place Sept. 9 to 11.