Our last full day in Italy…I can’t believe it! This amazing trip has gone by too quickly. Although I wish I could stay longer, all the walking has really tired me out! Today we had our last company visit to Lineapelle in Milan. There are also locations in New York and London. This company is similar to the Consorzio Della Moda, in the sense that they provide many services. Lineapelle plays an important role in the leather industry. It is a trade exhibition for several tanneries in Italy. These exhibitions are held twice yearly in the fair district of Milan to showcase the many different designs and styles of quality leather. It is a collaboration of producers and designers. Lineapelle sets the designs and trends in the market and sends them to the tanneries who make the leather. The Italian tanning industry is huge, consisting of 1,243 companies and 17,824 employees. The ones that have the opportunity to work with Lineapelle are the lucky ones!
My title isn’t Loads of Lineapelle Leather for nothing…I was blown away by all the types of leather we got to see and touch today. In total, they have around 13,000 samples of leather. The value of Italian leather includes tradition, quality, technology, design, and sustainability. The main raw materials used are cattle, sheep, goat, pig, kangaroo, and deer. They also have many exotic animal skins that I didn’t even know could be made into leather. Some of these animals include alligator (which makes different leather depending on if you use skin from the back or belly), eel, fish (such as salmon and tilapia), shark, frog, sting ray, and more. They each had a distinct texture and pattern. Lineapelle also uses a technique to make cavallino: the leather of a calf with trimmed hair to look like the leather of a horse.
With the help of recent technology, there are many types of finishing that tanneries can use to make each type of leather beautiful. One of the most interesting techniques in my opinion was laser decorations. A hot laser is used to burn holes in the leather and cut out designs. In addition, digital printed leather is a recent development. Computerized images are produced by the ink-jet technique to create perfect prints. Some of the more common finishing procedures include film, metallized and pearlized, laminated, transfer, and partial finishing. In addition, recent changes in technology have helped Lineapelle save waste. They have a sustainability report, and have a 70% waste recovery average. Additionally, workers’ rights in tanneries are respected with the aid of ICEC standards.
Although these changes in technology have had positive effects on Lineapelle, there is speculation as to what will happen if technological advancements are made to perfectly simulate leather products. When we learned about sustainability yesterday at the Cattolica, the idea of wine leather was brought up. Lineapelle does not seem to be incredibly concerned with these potential changes. According to our guide, it is hard to determine if one will outweigh the other in the future. Surprisingly, wine and synthetic leather are not as sustainable as the making of animal leather. Leather is only sustainable if the tanning process has minimal waste, and that is what Lineapelle ensures. When dealing with animal activist groups such as Green Peace, the company knows how to respond. They only use animals that are bred for food. Cows, for example, are always eaten before the leather gets to the tannery. The animals are not slaughtered and wasted, so it is a win-win situation. Personally, I think that even if synthetic leather were to become more sustainable people would still want quality animal leather. It is a good that has been used for many years and for many reasons, beginning with protection and ending with luxury.
In regard to the value network principles of Lineapelle, there are many factors to consider. Like I mentioned above, their main line of business are the leather shows and fairs that they hold. The raw materials that go into the leather are the animal skins, which the tanneries receive from all over the world depending on where the animals come from. Although there are safety and environmental issues, Lineapelle makes sure that standards are met and that the tanneries use the most sustainable practices possible. The workforce at Lineapelle must have certain skills. There are leather courses where you can learn the vocabulary of leather, take leather training courses, and more. Lineapelle wants the best trends to eventually be made into the best leather.