Despite the blazing sun and blue skies that met the 95th edition of Lineapelle, the clouds that blew over from ACLE in Shanghai set the overall mood. Shanghai is becoming more self-dependent, if the ratio trend of international to domestic exhibitors is an indication, so Europeans come to Lineapelle to get a more familiar sense of optimism. But there’s no real clean break from one to the other, and more questions were asked than answered. The market is more enigmatic than ever, and each show seems to further test the future of high-end leather fashion. Apart from the main halls, the Innovation Square was a popular draw, especially the discussions about merging fashion with technology, a seemingly inevitable confluence, but still somewhat cost prohibitive. Identifying what is real and what is fake was also something the Lineapelle Fashion Committee highlighted in order to draw attention to the new trends and materials, so this edition provided a chance for people to reflect and take stock of their place in the industry. Indeed, a big topic of discussion was mergers and acquisitions, in light of Chanel buying Colomer, and Michael Kors buying Versace for $2.1 billion.

Day two was busier than the first day, and usually exhibitors pin hopes on conducting the most business once the show hits its stride, but for the most part, it didn’t measure up to previous editions despite some examples of success. There is stability in Europe, but that doesn’t always mean a bull market. However, investment in the fairs is strong, as Luigi Di Maio, the Italian vice-premier and minister for economic development, promised to support Made in Italy fairs, including Lineapelle. At Micam, the previous week, Di Maio announced plans to strengthen fairs that are integral to bolstering the Italian economy.

“The majority of companies here have had, thanks to the fairs, the opportunity to create new business and new partnerships,” he said. “So we not only confirm the investments already made but we will increase them, because fashion is an ambassador of Italian culture of beauty.”

For much of the afternoon of the second day, there was a conference on leather’s environmental footprint. Sponsored by UNIC, Cotance and the European Commission (EC), the seminars focused on establishing clarity on proper terminology and using it responsibly, as well as reiterating how the EC launched the ‘Single Market for Green Products’ project, directly involving the European tanning industry. The scope of the initiative also establishes a unique method for assessing the environmental impact of the product, the product environmental footprint, and a set of specific rules for different industrial sectors, called the Product Environmental Footprint Category Rules (PEFCR).

Cotance president Andreas Kindermann gave some introductory comments before the first keynotes from Michele Galatola, the EC’s director-general for the environemnt, Cotance’s Gustavo Gonzalez-Quijano and UNIC’s Primiano De Rosa-Giglio.

Gonzalez-Quijano and De Rosa-Giglio primarily spoke about Leather PEFCR and progress since April of this year when it was officially approved by the Environmental Footprint Steering Committee. Leather PEFCR represents a major milestone in establishing a harmonised methodology to calculate the environmental footprint of leather made from hides and skins of animals slaughtered for meat production, which represents 95% of all leathers traded worldwide. Cotance has been working diligently for eight years in regard to the environmental footprint of leather and how to improve industrial practices, and momentum is growing with partners at the EC.

So even if the trading floor wasn’t a massive success, there are certainly bright spots for the industry to build on.