Leather is a synonym for paradox

Richard Daniel (left) from World and Paul Evans at Freiberg Leather Days Conference
Richard Daniel (left) from World and Paul Evans at Freiberg Leather Days Conference

I seem to remember the start of the year beig very much defined by three months of travel to sports and outdoor trade fairs in the US and Europe, coming up for air with APLF in Hong  Kong.  The sports shows have reduced in number and the way tanners use trade shows has changed, and now with APLF and Lineapelle backing up around Easter we have an intensive period of activity in the spring as opposed to a long drawn out first quarter of travel. What is also a sign of the times is that the UK has two tanners represented at the spring Hamburg aviation show – both announcing the fact with photos on social media. Not long ago I only knew of this show via an engineering company in the USA whose Board I have been on since 1990, and has no connection with leather.

So times are changing. Indeed as a write this at the FILK 2nd Freiberg Leather Days Jo Gilet has just reminded us that “the only constant is change”.  His talk, amidst other more technical papers, was very entertaining making the quip in answer to a question related to meat consumption that ” leather is a synonym for paradox” highlighted the big switch over fifteen years from a high proportion of bulls to a majority of cows, along with the fact that too many companies, especially in the automobile trade, are trying to establish defect acceptance sheets that do not recognise the fact that natural materials should not be defined in this way. “The hide will not adapt itself to the leather market”.

I was delighted to be given the opening slot to discuss the leather market place – issues of raw material and the final consumers – and LeatherNaturally! – and to find myself talking to an audience of over 150, many from the auto industry.  The leather and leather using industry is much more cohesive than ours in the UK.  If we could get away from our somewhat cynical and self-deprecating approach to the world then Mulberry, Mulberry, Next, M&S, Mini, Aston Martin, along with abattoirs, gelatine and so many others would see themselves as part of the leather industry along with the tanners. The whole structure could me much more creative and dynamic. And remember we have the world’s two strongest leather trade magazines, and some great fashion and design ones in the UK to publicise it all. Time for a re-think?

Mike Redwood
25th April 2013