Lineapelle’s surprising decision to move its autumn-winter edition reverberated through the European leather fairs calendar. Host city Milan chose to postpone the event by two weeks from the initial date set to take the opportunity of a free slot at FieraMilano on 20–22 September, thus favouring the demands of exhibitors, who were asking for more time to define their collections and get to market with convincing proposals, which can then also be presented in conjunction with Milan fashion week, held 21–26 September.

This move also puts a few more days between Lineapelle and Première Vision Paris, which will be held on 13–15 September, and allows companies attending both events a bit more room to breathe. Not only that, but it gives exhibitors the chance to test their exhibits at Paris’s Villepinte pavilions before perhaps refining them to move on to the Rho-Pero location of Milan. So what does this actually mean? Is it a true collaboration between the two organising companies occurring? Not exactly.

Two’s company

It’s true that the change of direction inside the Italian Tanners’ Association (UNIC) has created some talks between Milan and Paris, as evidenced by the agreement between the respective previews, Anteprima and Blossom Première Vision, which enabled Milan to concentrate on offerings for the winter season (in July) and Paris on the summer season (December). However, the president of UNIC (which controls Lineapelle), Gianni Russo, states that the collaboration is not extended to the main events, but rather limited to previews.

“We didn’t talk about Lineapelle and Première Vision with the French management. They clearly realised that the overlap of dates between Blossom and Anteprima would have hurt our customers,” Russo says. “They are well aware of the fact that trade fairs should be organised to meet the needs of the market, not of the trade organisations or associations. They also recognised the centrality of the Italian companies in the leather economy.”

The data is clear

Italy is one of the most prominent exhibitors at Première Vision Leather, providing about 140 tanneries out of a total of 320 pre-registered at the end of July. The country also sets a benchmark for innovative contents because fashion leather trends are made in Italy. Hence the conviction, often expressed in the past by UNIC, that Italian tanneries strengthened Paris in the period when Lineapelle was hindered by the Bologna exhibition centre (which was lacking in terms of logistics and services), and by the dates in April and October.

The move to Milan in September 2014 gave a new impetus to the Italian leather fair, which promises record figures for the next edition as the number of companies and exhibition space increase. Therefore, in terms of the logic of cooperation between France and Italy, one can expect a consolidation of Première Vision for the top of the range and for its target customers, represented by French luxury holdings, and an expansive phase for Lineapelle as the world’s leading event for the business.

“We expect a great Lineapelle,” bets Angelo Montanelli, president of the Tuscan group Marbella. His brother Paolo Montanelli, commercial manager, has the same vision and wishes to see more cooperation between the two organising companies.

“Paris and Milan are both strategic [events], each for its own target [audience]. Lineapelle is the must-see event and Première Vision is important for the presence of French brands. Moreover, the fact of having two neighbouring fairs but with different timing allows us to reach customers who can only visit one of the two, because sometimes one could coincide with the timing of the fashion weeks or with preparation of the collections. The rivalry is between fair organisations and does not regard companies, which are only interested in selling.”

The move to Milan in September 2014 gave a new impetus to the Italian leather fair.

Why chose one?

Alessandro Iliprandi, CEO of Bonaudo Group, which is a leading leather supplier to the biggest fashion brands, confirms the distinction between the two events in his view: “Luxury is mainly French and many of our customers prefer the Paris location, but Lineapelle allows us to meet, in just three days, all the world’s best buyers, from the US to the Far East.

We must have exposure at both events, although, at this time, Milan is [the one] on the rise. Première Vision, in my opinion, should remain a selected event, targeted to research. Lineapelle’s appeal will further increase if Milan enhances its customer services, from internet connections to logistics and food. The fair’s visitors should be accommodated like luxury tourists, [by being] offered all the amenities.”

Carlos Riba, CEO of the Spanish tannery Riba Guixa, expresses his preference for Paris: “Both fairs are important for us but we feel like they are too close to be efficient. Paris is more focused on pure fashion and leather garments; having the same dates for textile and leather in the same place is really good. Milan is more focused on bovine leather for leather goods and footwear. We also consider the Milan fair’s building too big, and customers cannot find some companies because there are big and long walls between stands. There is no visibility to find the places.”

Massimo Giacon, specialised designer and consultant for Montebello (Italy) and Marmara (Turkey) tanneries, emphasises the strengths of Milan: “The layout of Première Vision is outmoded, so much so that investment made by tanneries for Lineapelle, targeted not only submitting articles but also conveying their fashion concept, are much higher. Companies worked hard and spent a lot of money to add value to the Milan fair, and I hope that Lineapelle will reward those who invest, year by year, to present new ideas and amazing stands.”