Here we have it ladies and gentleman- our final day in Italy. What exactly am I feeling? Well, a lot of mixed emotions but mostly overwhelming disappointment that we leave tomorrow. Instead, I am distracting myself with the stress of packing to avoid the feelings on hand. Avoidance is probably never the best solution but after the greatest two weeks of my life, this is the best option I have. In regards to our last exploration of fashion, we visited Linea-Pelle and dove further into the world of leather. We then said our goodbyes to Diego in a farewell lunch and finished our last minute shopping. The major part of our day consisted of the business visit, so let’s talk fashion.
Even after carefully listening to the presentation of Linea-Pelle, I was slightly confused as to what exactly this company was. Of course, I understood that its main business was showcasing leather. In fact, they hold exhibitions in New York, London, and Milan annually and feature their newest designs. Similar to The Leather School, it also provides professional courses for leather. One approach that I found particularly interesting was that they store their leather samples in a digital archive so they can access every design from their first to now. From all of the information I collected, I now understand that the Linea-Pelle is a collection of tanneries that produce leather. These tanneries produce leather from the animal residue of the food industry. Linea-Pelle then showcases these leather designs in their exhibitions as means to earn profits and success for these tanneries.
Linea-Pelle focuses heavily on technological advancements regarding the production of leather. We learned about the various production methods and their repercussions. Some technology focuses on the tanning of the leather. Two specific types include chromium tanning and vegetable tanning. Chromium tanning consists of leathers treated with chrome salts. This is a technological advancement from vegetable tannin which is one of the oldest methods which uses tannins found in wood, bark, leaves, and fruits of trees. Chromium tanning has a positive association because it provides stability over time, softness and lightness, flexibility and resistance to mechanical structure, good dyeability, and highly versatile final product. In contrast, vegetable tanning has some negative associations such as reduced mechanical flexibility, poor light- fastness, and a distinct “leather odor.” Other technological advancements stem from the finishing of the leather. One example is film finishing which is carried out in closed cabins with a fan. The skins then proceed through a dyeing tunnel which forms the film. The laminated leather is finished with synthetic films that contain metallic powder of pigments such as gold or silver. Transfer finishing includes the application of transfer films with patterns and colors onto the leather. Embossed finishing allows for grain patterns through the use of special press or plates. All of these finishings are considered “good” technological advancements because they enhance the appearance of the leather with the same amount of time, effort, and resources, required for each.
Other technological advancements stem from the finishing of the leather. One example is film finishing which is carried out in closed cabins with a fan. The skins then proceed through a dyeing tunnel which forms the film. The laminated leather is finished with synthetic films that contain metallic powder of pigments such as gold or silver. Transfer finishing includes the application of transfer films with patterns and colors onto the leather. Embossed finishing allows for grain patterns through the use of special press or plates. All of these finishings are considered “good” technological advancements because they enhance the appearance of the leather with the same amount of time, effort, and resources, required for each. One particularly negative technological advancement that we discussed revolved around the new production method in which leather stems from wine instead of animal skins. The manager specifically described that they avoid this advancement because of its detrimental effects on the environment. Since leather from the animal skins helps use the residue of the food industry, it minimizes waste. Instead, leather from wine is a lengthy process which requires an entirely different production style and increased time and resources.
Aside from today’s visit at Linea-Pelle, I’d like to take a moment to reflect on prior visits abroad and this specific study abroad experience. In the past, the two countries that I visited included Canada and India. I have traveled to Canada many times and visited both British Columbia and Toronto. The culture is generally very similar to the United States and its almost hard to believe that I’m even visiting another country especially because it is within driving distance from my home in Toledo, Ohio. Traveling across the world to India, however, definitely felt like I was in an entirely different realm. Every aspect of the culture and lifestyle are very different from the United States. I usually visit every alternate summer to see family. Bombay is a city which reminds me of an amplified version of New York City. The city is constantly filled with movement and encompasses the best eating, shopping, and entertainment. The city itself has also become very westernized especially in regards to fashion and food. My experience in India helped me feel comfortable to travel across the world to Italy. I had never traveled with a group of peers before, however, each one of us grew so close in a few short weeks that I cannot imagine an entire summer without them. I decided to study abroad in order to expand my perspective on business, especially internationally and expose myself to a different culture. In addition, I had never traveled to Europe before and visiting Italy as my first country helped me understand the fundamentals of a lifestyle in another continent. In all honesty, I knew very little about Italian culture before I arrived. I only knew what we had learned in class, but then again, you never really understand anything until you experience it yourself. Despite how different the Italian culture is from that of America, I have grown to admire it along with the people and lifestyle.
I cannot believe that I am sitting here writing the last few sentences of my blog in Italy. When people told me that study abroad was their single best experience in college, I always used to question it especially because college years are filled with so many life changing moments. However, I now understand that study abroad isn’t just the greatest experience of your college career, it’s the single best experience of your life. Thank you to my peers, chaperones, and of course, Italy for changing my life. Ciao!