Türkiye became so synonymous with doubleface tanning that the production of other leathers has largely been ignored. Despite this, innovation and an amazing variety of leathers are available from a number of tanners, who are working hard to survive. Tanneries, garment makers and hide and skin agents have identified renewed interest in nappa, and a return to New Zealand skins.

At the time of writing, offers had not yet come from New Zealand’s South Island. However, the Alliance Group’s agent in Türkiye, Mekar Limited, told Leather International that an influential Istanbul garment maker had been in touch with them. Mekar’s Mete Tumay supplies approximately 85% of New Zealand skins into Türkiye.

Approximately 25 million sheep and lambs were slaughtered in New Zealand in 2004. Prices of pelts averaged $46/dozen for third quality and $67/dozen for run (first quality).

Turkish producers shun the fattier, heavier Australian sheep or lambskins, which are challenging to tan. The coarse wool of a NZ lamb or sheep goes more for carpets and some spun yarns; so Turkish producers have woken up to the potential of the skin for nappa and suede garments.

Agents cite unconfirmed reports from China of a 70% duty on imported wool-on skins, a strong indication that this country is trying to cool off prices of raw materials. China may have drained Australia dry with last season’s purchase of wool-on sheepskins, paying $10 or $12 per piece, but they mainly wanted the wool, an expensive commodity in China.

In Izmir’s Menemen leather zone, Derma Deri, part of the Savronoglu Group, are tanning deer and elk hides extremely proficiently. Farmed and wild deer are sourced in Finland and farmed ones from New Zealand. Both nappa and suede are used in high fashion garments for the 2005 winter season.

Some producers believe that a customer will buy more or replacement styles in nappa, whereas a doubleface garment is a once-only luxury purchase.

Akdede Group from Izmir are offering top grade baby calf hair-on and nappa to brand name designers in Europe. This is a butter-soft skin exported to Korean garment makers, who ship finished items to US retailers.

Expect to see more nappa production from Türkiye and a new focus on variety and speciality skins and uses that take the spotlight off doubleface.