On the final day of our Italy trip, the group traveled to the Lineapelle Fashion Studio. Here we got to see the many different types of leather that this company has archived within their building. This business does not focus on making the leather products but rather sponsoring other leather making companies by showcasing their products at various leather conventions and by advising them on what trends to set for upcoming years. The speaker began to talk about how synthetic leather has been growing a bit due to new technology, but strongly emphasized that natural leather cannot ever be reproduced exactly. This implied that the natural leather industry would most likely persist in the foreseeable future. I would also like to address the theme “My Current Attitudes and Beliefs toward Travel”, as I am rather new to international travel as well as the fact that my Grandfather Vivino was born in Calabria.
The speaker started the presentation by explaining to us the detailed process on how leather has been made for over three thousand years. This intricately structured process also furthered her confidence in the synthetic leathers inability to replicate natural leather. First, hides are cleansed to eliminate wastes. Then, the hypodermis and epidermis are removed because only the dermis of the hide is used. The dermis is then cut into two. The upper half is the part that shows the final outside design of the leather, while the lower half does not look like the skin at all. Usually since the lower half is much more durable and less appealing than the upper half, the main use of it is for shoes. After the upper and lower half are split, the leather is put through a vegetable or chromium tanning bath, or sometimes even both. Each bath has a different purpose, as the vegetable bath is usually much longer (up to six months) and makes the leather larger, while the Chromium bath is used to make leather more flexible. Finally, the leather is finished for preservation purposes and also designed for appearance.
Another reason that synthetic leather will eventually die out is because no matter how much technology evolves, synthetic items are much more pollutant and less sustainable than natural leather. For example, almost all synthetic leather is produced from petroleum. Because of this, a vast number of byproducts are released. Also, synthetic leather is highly unregulated, leading to an exponential amount of pollution when compared to the production of natural leather. The speaker also mentioned how no matter how much research is put into synthetic leather, natural leather will always be more sustainable due to less artificial materials during production. Furthermore, natural will be more advanced because it has been made for over three thousand years, while synthetic has just been created. Over the past couple of years, although synthetic leather has become larger, natural leather has focused more on their sustainability during production. They have reduced their water consumption by nearly 17% as well as removed around 98% of harmful pollutants that were once emitted during production. Natural leather making took a huge hit during this movement, almost doubling their production costs. However, they see it as a long-term investment, as it will fight off synthetic leather making and be worthwhile in the long run. Finally, natural leather making is essentially unharmful to animals due to companies buying the hides off of people who already slaughter the animals for food.
Although synthetic making leather technologies are increasing and sometimes more visually appealing, such as metallic and gold films that laminate the leather, natural leather will always be superior. This is because clients know that they are getting long-lasting, high quality items. Synthetic leather may look better, but natural leather will always be trusted more due to its long, successful history. Personally, my opinion sides with the natural leather products, because of the sustainability. We must lower pollution, even if we have to pay a bit more money for natural over synthetic products. Preserving the earth should be the number one priority, not whether new synthetic leathers look nicer than natural ones.
To address the theme, “My Current Attitudes and Beliefs toward Travel”, I would first like to mention that my only other international experience was to Cancun, Mexico. It was only about a three-and-a-half-hour flight. Some flights across the United States are even longer than it. I went there on a family vacation, and it was in an all-inclusive resort, so I didn’t truly get to experience Mexican culture. When I got selected to go to Italy on this study abroad trip I was beyond excited as I knew that I would be able to experience real Italian culture. The main reason I chose this country was because my Grandfather, Pasquale Vivino grew up in Italy around the city of Calabria. He then came to the United States by boat when he was only sixteen years old. Another reason that I chose this trip was because it focused on fashion. When my Grandfather came to the United States, he became a tailor for over 40 years. I could not have asked for a better representation of where my family is from and what inspired my Grandfather to become a tailor. Before coming on this trip, I had very little background about what Italian culture was like, other than the food as I eat a ton of Italian cuisine back in the States. I was impressed by the focus on the high quality and professionalism that each company possessed. In the United States, I feel as if there is more of a profit incentive and less focus on quality. Our culture wants to mass produce for a greater revenue, while most of the Italian companies want to be recognized for their handmade, high quality items. This wraps up our Plus3 Italy trip! It was an experience that I will never forget. Lastly, I’d like to thank Dr. Patzer, Dr. Duquin, Diego, and Luca for designing such a fun trip that helped us understand Italian culture to the fullest. I am going to miss all of my friends I have made as well. Keep in touch everyone! Ciao for the last time blog readers!