Just as reported last year, the trend selection area itself was decidedly unimaginative in terms of presentation and layout. However, the exhibits displayed within made up for this. Dull grey walls and display units provided the backdrop for three ranges: Peace – pale and subdued shades from cream through to toffee brown: Passion – reds and red shades of brown plus a bit of black: and Life – pale and warm shades of brown with a hint of green. Next year’s black is clearly brown! Emphasis was definitely on the natural: soft and aniline textures.

Brown shades dominated both the Trend Selection area as well as the main exhibition halls. But where bright colours were lacking, texture abounded. Leather was plaited, woven, embroidered and adorned with all sorts of embellishments to create textural interest. Laser cut designs were shown to be able to produce the flimsiest of lace-like leather. Leather was also cut, shaved, curled and shrunk to produce some quite amazing effects, even if they are completely impractical for everyday use.

A peculiar ‘quilted’ effect was very evident in the exhibition halls. This was created by painting either the grain or suede surface of the leather with lines of a compound that superficially shrinks the leather in whatever pattern is applied. This causes the un-shrunk leather between the lines to billow out into pillow-like puffs. Flowers, grids and brain-like patterns were created using this technique. It looked most effective when used as insets in footwear or made up into leathergoods such as displayed by Prealpina Conceria.

Hair-on hides and furs have moved into a new dimension with intricate patterns burnt into the hair plus glitter effects. Whilst the traditional natural coloured furs remain, new and exciting dye effects are emerging.

Though vivid colours were scarce, metallic effects gave us the sparkle that was needed. In addition to metallic foil finishes, glitter, metal studs and diamante were out in force. A stunning display of furniture, footwear and leathergoods by Dolmen SpA in silver and black reptile print was certainly eye catching.

Leather produced from organic (aldehyde) tanned ‘wet-white’ continues to grow in sectors beyond its automotive origin with claims of being more ecologically sound and safer than conventionally chrome tanned leather. Technology certainly has made it a more favourable material for use in the footwear industry, eg enabling it to be dyed to darker, brighter shades than was initially possible. One suspects that its popularity will continue to grow as we continue to be steered down the ‘eco/organic’ route.

Numbers were down in this year’s October fair; exhibitors numbered 1,327 from 49 countries and, talking to exhibitors, most said that other than for 2 or 3 hours during the middle of the day, business was generally quieter than last year. This presumably is due to the Tanning Tech fair not being present this year. It certainly was noticeably easier to find accommodation in Bologna than it has been previously.

At this year’s fair, Lineapelle announced the opening of their Fashion Studio in Milan. Thirty years worth of materials (5,000 samples) and publications etc have been catalogued and are now accessible to designers and buyers etc. This should be an invaluable aid in creating designs for the future as well as an interesting record of the past.