I woke up to my first rainy morning in Milan. I was quite sad while munching on my last, Nutella filled hotel breakfast. I tried to take in the experience as much as I could so I would not forget it. After breakfast was over, we braved the Italian metros for the last time to go to Lineapelle. Lineapelle is not your average firm. Rather, they are a consortium of sorts. They operate solely to keep the leather tanneries in business. Lineapelle are the ones who collaborate to set the trends for leather. They are actually the organization who created the big leather fair that happens in order to show off the trends. They also oversee the production lines to make sure that everything is running smoothly in regards to human rights. The company will work with fair trade associations to make sure this is implemented. However, Lineapelle is mostly there to help the tanneries. Lineapelle does not do this for free of course; the tanneries must pay a fee to have the services of Lineapelle. The control Lineapelle flexes is immense. They have tannerie companies in their organization that feature over 17,000 employees. The process of the tanneries are immense as different regions of Italy specialize in different types of leather. There are multiple steps in the process. The leather must first be prepared for the tanneries. Then the leather is tanned, after that there is a post tannery process. Then the finishing process, which involves steps like dying the leather. There are two different tanning agents that can be used as inputs in the supply chain: vegetable and chrome. Each of these takes on different color and has different results. For example, the vegetable route of the supply chain leads to a harder feel. After the raw leather is finished, they then use the fabric to make their bags and other accessories. There are also two methods of finishing in the supply chain: mechanical or film. Each one creates a different look. My favorite would be patent leather since it is shiny. There are also different rules with finishing that need to be followed exactly precise results, thus leading to a difficult supply chain. There are not really any safety concerns with production besides that obviously the animal dies who gives its skin. The work force must be well versed in the skills of leather making. They need lots of experience before they can even considered expert. The new technology has also expanded the supply chain or the organization. There are now ways to use lasers to add intricate designs to the leather. I wonder if the organization will create even better technology one day to do even more.
Even though synthetic and alternative productions of leather are growing in popularity, Lineapelle does not have much concern for that growing trend. Real leather is actually more sustainable than synthetic or alternative forms of leather. Since over 99 percent of leather is made from animals that are already being eaten, there is virtually no waste. There are also a lot less emissions released from leathers made from animals than otherwise. All of these reasons make real leather better than fake leather in terms of the environment. In terms of fashion, fake leather will never look or feel as authentic. Nonetheless, Lineapelle does care about the environment. They have reduced the amount of water and energy they use by over twenty percent. They did this even though it was more expensive for them. Lineapelle is also all about learning, they offer courses so that other professionals can learn about leather. Speaking of learning, I felt that we learned a little too much about where leather comes from today. Learning about the skin of the animal was a little too much information for me. However, it was interesting to see the different types of animal skins. I was able to touch many different types of animal skins and really feel the difference between the different leathers. It is also interesting how different leathers have different popular uses. For example, lamb leather is so soft that it is popular for gloves. It was also cool how they used fish to make leather. The intricate scales of the fish gives a cool feel to the fabric. The fish leather also had practical use; Samaris would use sing ray leather for the base of their swords since it sticks well to the hands. After our presentation, we explored a bit then went to our welcome lunch. It was really sad seeing everyone as a group for the last time. I am not looking forward to my journey home, but I am thankful for the experience I have had.