Worldwide leather fair Lineapelle made its way back to New York this February. The tradeshow took place at New York’s Metropolitan Pavilion from January 26 to 27, highlighting the latest trends in the leather goods industry. This year’s hot topics were sustainability and the supply chain.
Incas Italian Il Veleiro, an Italian leather supplier, prides itself on its longstanding sustainability practices and was ahead of the curve when it came to the fashion industry trying to shift toward more sustainable practices. The company keeps leather skins stocked for 90 days before dying them, so skins are easier to dye and cut. Their most sustainable line they have is 40075, which is metal-free, making them more recyclable.
Many types of leather are often run through a chemical process that involves a lot of metal processes. Incas keep these metal usages to a minimum to virtually non-existent. Originally, they were a vegetable tan leather company, and they now describe themselves as a “slow leather” company. Despite this process, they can still deliver to someone within five to six weeks to fulfill orders.
“Vegetable tan leather is the most ecological leather,” a representative for the company said. “We have been working on acquiring more sustainability certifications, so we have made some adjustments to our manufacturing process, but we have always been a sustainably focused company.”
With supply chain issues, some companies have seen a shift in the types of fabrication people are ordering as well. Yessiler Deri, a lambskin supplier, says that since COVID-19, lambskin, which was mostly used for garment production, has been used more for shoes and accessories as well. Lambskin is a versatile material because it can be produced at multiple weights to create lightweight jackets to heavier winter jackets.
According to a representative for the company, because lambskin production is also tied to the meat production industry, they didn’t run into too many supply chain issues, but lockdowns did cause a drop in demand. Since the economy has begun rebounding after COVID-19, there has been an increased demand for lambskin production. As companies shift away from using furs, lambskins have become more popular as they are less controversial since the entire animal can be used from meat production to fashion production.
“If people start eating less meat and meat production goes down, that could cause a decline in lambskin production,” a representative for the company said. “Lambskin is an alternative to other animal skins, but if meat consumption goes down in the future lambskin production and usage could decline. I don’t think this will happen in ten or fifteen years, but perhaps in another 50. We’ll see.”
Leather supplier Rimopa Leather says that one thing they have found is that manufacturers don’t want to keep leather supply stocks anymore. They just want to order based on demand. Inventory reduction became a point of focus after COVID-19 when manufacturers were just sitting on leather supplies they couldn’t even use that took a while to get rid of.
Leather consumers also want more transparency in where their leather goods are coming from. According to a representative for the company, customers want to know more about how the leather was tanned, where the leather came from, and what kind of finish was done on it.
The leather supply chain also got backed up from COVID-19 because it went from no one ordering anything and staying cautious to everyone wanting everything all at once. A representative for the brand did confirm that they have seen the leather industry rebound as the world works on emerging from the pandemic, but leather prices have gone up.
“The worst part of the pandemic for the leather good industry I feel is behind us,” A representative for the company said. “Now, we must learn from the past, and realize we can’t just manufacture leather the way we used to and have been for hundreds of years. The leather industry is willing to improve. Customers want to buy products that are as sustainably sourced as possible. We are trying to make that happen.”