Today I found that it IS possible to drown in leather. But, before I get into that I should probably talk about the company we visited today. The company itself was called Lineapelle. Now, I have to use the term loosely because they are more than just a business. Lineapelle is more like a consortium, like the one we saw earlier in the trip, but it is involved with leather companies. So, within their reach is a network of fashion designers, leather stylists, and many different tanning companies that will produce leather for the market. Today, however, we learned about all of the different types of leather and the many different finishes that can be done to them.
We had our meeting in the absurdly hot archive area in the basement of their building. One thing that I found very impressive, however, is that within their archives that have over 13,000 samples of leather available and around 4,000 accessories. Also, in the hallway they had what they referred to as their trend area. This was where they had examples of all of the different trends throughout the years. I found this very interesting because its often very interesting to look at what was popular in the past.
Also, this company is responsible for running and creating an international leather fair that will occur again this year at three different locations. These locations are Milan, London, and New York City. It’s in these locations that a lot of trends are discovered and established. In the last one there was about 1,198 exhibitors present, all of which came from over 44 counties. In the Milan location, approximately 56% of the attendance were Italian while the rest were foreigners to the country. This shows that this event wasn’t just a local even but that people from all over came to experience the fair and learn more about the industry itself.
One of the major ideas from both today and a few of the other business trips was the idea of sustainability. And the previous day we had learned that they were currently in the process in studying a method where you can make leather using only the skin from grapes. Now this method of making lather would appear to be extremely sustainable to many people because it removes the need for animals to be involved in the process and therefore the many complex processes that are used to convert the skin into a usable form. When we talked to our presenter about this, however, she told us the exact opposite. The members of Lineapelle specifically will only use skins from animals that are being used in the food industry. This is an incredible idea because it significantly increases the sustainability of the entire process by removing the need to kill excess animals and then waste the other parts of the animal. In this case the animal is killed and the meat is used for food, but then the skin in also used to produce leather. Also, the process of converting grapes into a leather, unless it can be done very well, will more than likely produce a lot of excess waste products because of the need for chemical reactions to fuel the process. Our presenter even said that the main way to effect the sustainability of the leather making process is to focus on the tanning process itself because the hides can be acquired through sustainable methods. So even if the leather was made out of grapes, it would still need to undergo tanning in order to be a usable leather in fashion so it will still produce countless byproducts.
Outside of the technologies used in leather making and the sustainability of possible substitutes, we also learned about many of the leathers themselves. The main ones that we learned about were leathers such as cattle, sheep, goat, kangaroo, and deer. All of these leathers had much different feels and served many different purposes based on their makeup and strength. For example, calf skin is extremely soft but fragile so it is used for upper leather and fine leather goods and garments. Aside from this we also learned a lot about the finishing process on these leathers that make them appear like they do in the real world. This is where the title comes in. At some point it seemed like there was an endless supply of leathers being handed out for us to touch and to see. Now this was an incredible experience because I learned so much about the leather industry but I swear there were points where I lost track of members in our group under the endless piles of leather.