There are countless ways to treat leather, from dramatic new shades to unexpected textures and first-of-a-kind special effects. And just when one thinks they must have seen them all, something new comes out to inspire designers and brands to create the next wave of innovative, distinctive and authentic new products.
It's this love of the new that drives Stahl to work closely with the world's top tanneries, manufacturers and brands to innovate and create sustainable products and processes.
Innovation, inspiration and creativity are central to this, which is where the Stahl Design Studio comes in. It specialises in future trends and colour forecasts, and produces leather-trend collections for various industries, including the apparel and automotive sectors. "If you want to inspire others, you need to be full of ideas yourself. Colour is the beginning of everything and people should be able to understand immediately what you're trying to say," explains Émilie Musso, fashion coordinator at Stahl Design Studio. "We present a new trend forecast twice a year. We help designers capture their inspiration in colours and materials, and translate trends into future product designs. In addition to a fashionable look and feel, we want to ensure that the collections meet technical requirements, such as excellent quality, durability and specific performance characteristics."
Stahl works closely with brands, designers and other industry partners to develop forward-thinking finishing solutions that, in turn, help to create innovative products. A key criterion is that the materials that emerge from these partnerships should have a low impact on the environment.
A good example is Stahl's partnership with automotive think tank Rinspeed, which showcases future possibilities with innovative concept cars. "Rinspeed offers a very smart response to our future needs," says Caroline Hartmann, an automotivefocused fashion team designer at Stahl Design Studio. "With the latest design, the main idea was to create an interior that reflected high-tech, ecological or sustainable themes in an innovative way. Our PolyMatte finishing technology, based on rapeseed oil, gives the leather a smooth matt effect. It also reduces squeaking thanks to its flexibility and resistance, which is very important for a car that will be used as a living and working space."
Long-term thinking is clearly essential to the development of truly sustainable products. The Stahl Neo portfolio, for example, launched in 2016 and features products that not only comply with ZDHC Roadmap to Zero Programme requirements, but also go beyond this standard.
In 2020, brands and tanners will have to comply with the ZDHC goal of eliminating all restricted chemicals from the apparel and footwear supply chain. Remy Vial, global technical service manager leather at Stahl, states, "Tanners are looking for leather-finishing solutions that have less impact on the environment and, with Stahl Neo, we supply a complete product range that can be easily adapted to existing formulations and applications. Our aim with Stahl Neo is to help people imagine all kinds of leather and give them the total freedom to create, without being concerned about restricted substance compliance."
The Stahl Neo portfolio has been designed to meet all the finishing requirements of the footwear, leather goods, garment and upholstery segments. By opting for Stahl Neo products, manufacturers can produce the full range of leather articles. For an idea of what is possible, here is a sneak peek at Stahl's leather-finishing technologies and services. Use the QR codes to find out information online or to watch a Stahl tutorial.
Part of the Stahl Neo portfolio, pull-up leather is a great leatherfinishing technology for the shoe and leather goods industry. It's great because it highlights aspects like growth marks and black lines from barbed wire.
Pull-up leather that has been treated, softened and then painted with the right oils, waxes and dyes creates the brightest and most vibrant colours that are perfect for fashion items.