Today was sadly our last day in Italy, I am going to miss it here so much and I hope I will have the chance to come back someday! For the last day, we had a lot of free time so I finished up some last-minute shopping and ate some great food, which is what I will miss most. Before the free time, we had our last site visit to Linea Pelle, a fashion service company. This company was quite interesting because they do not necessarily produce a product, they give services to other companies such as tanneries. Every few months, they put on the biggest leather fair, displaying all the latest leather and fashion trends for upcoming seasons. They collaborate with other fashion companies to come up with next years’ trends and display them for companies that produce clothing. They also provide other services to leather companies such as, making sure they are following environmental rules and regulations and helping them connect with designers and producers through the fair. They also have a room full of archives of the past trends that designers can come to look at for inspiration, since almost all new designs are derived from old ones.
There has obviously been some debate on if making leather is ethical because you are using the skin of animal, and some animals are raised only for that purpose. However, since they use mostly byproduct from the meat industry, they are not killing very many animals for the purpose of leather and they are actually making the food industry more sustainable by using up some of their waste. Approximately 99% of their leather comes from the skins of animals harvested for meat. The tanneries they use also try to remove most of the pollutants from the water and store all their chemicals in drums. They do also use synthetic leather to display, however, this only makes up a small amount of the material they display because of course everyone wants to use the best products and the best quality. Scientists are now working on making leather from wine, this technique may seem to be more environmentally friendly than current techniques, however, it as well will have byproducts, as most products do. Also, something can only be considered sustainable if it goes through its usual process and produces the least amount of toxins and waste. Not only will this leather not be more sustainable, it also takes away from the tradition of leather. In Italy especially, handmade real leather products are very popular and something Italy has always been known for, if it is no longer real leather, the feeling of leather products will not be authentic. There are approximately 200 tanneries in the UNIC group alone, which shows how large the market really is. I do not think it would be very good for the leather industry and it would not have a substantial impact on the sustainability of the product.
When it comes to the site we visited, obviously, anything that affect the leather industry affect Linea Pelle, because those are their main customers. The main problems that the leather industry face are animal protection laws and agencies. For example, there are laws that protect animals like kangaroos, who’s skin they use for leather. They only have limited amounts of leather made from skins of animals that are protected like this. Linea Pelle has also ran into problems with animals activists and “tree huggers”, for lack of a better term, they even had a case where a go green organization came in and covered stuff in blood to protest the leather tanneries. As far as technological advances go in the leather industry, they have come a long way. They can now laser print and screen print on leather to make designs and patterns, this makes dying and printing the leather even more environmentally friendly because it produces less toxins and uses less water. With the fast-changing technology in today’s world, who knows what they will come up with next. Since this is the end of my blogging, thanks for reading about my wonderful experiences in Italy!