European leather goods internal trade represents 18% of the global exchanges. France, Spain, Italy and Germany are Europe’s largest leather importers, all ranking among the top ten importers of leather worldwide in 2016. Exports of leather goods from Asia-Oceania to Europe constitute 20% of the global exchanges.

26% of the global import of leather goods, 29% of the global production of leather clothes and accessories, and 22% of the global import of shoes are destined to the EU. France is the third-largest importer of shoes and the fourth-largest importer of leather goods in the world.

As good as the real thing

Leatherworld Paris, the most recent fair of Messe Frankfurt France, is the main platform for the European leather market. More than 50 exhibitors offer a full range of finished leather goods, such as luggage, handbags and wallets, fashion accessories, leather furniture and handcrafted leather goods, as well as raw materials like synthetic fur, exotics and alternatives to leather. The fair attracts thousands of professionals from all over the globe.

New synthetic materials that appear identical to leather are a mainstay in the realms of housing, cars and fashion. These leather alternatives carry properties that did not previously exist within the market, such as waterproofness and affordable pricing. These criteria have proved attractive and essential when answering the growing worldwide consumer demand.

The thematic potential provided by new materials, such as ‘vegan leather’ or ‘synthetic fur’, is extremely important for Messe Frankfurt France, which is evident throughout Leatherworld Paris.

Other criteria, such as insufficient supplies and the high price of real leather, have accelerated the demand of synthetic leather during the past ten years but, most importantly, the industry must not forget the main reason – ready-to-wear brands are culling the use of fabrics from animal origin. For example, as the demand has sharply increased, synthetic fur has gained considerably in quality during the past ten years. The thematic potential provided by new materials, such as ‘vegan leather’ or ‘synthetic fur’, is extremely important for Messe Frankfurt France, which is evident throughout Leatherworld Paris.

Bring creativity to light

A dedicated leather catwalk is to be organised during the fair. The catwalk art director will survey the fair and pick clothes and accessories from exhibitors’ booths, before combining them together to create specific looks. Visitors can admire garments and accessories in a contextualised scenography that evolves according to seasons. It enables exhibitors to showcase shoes, bags, clothing collections and fashion accessories on the podium, and young creators to express their unrivalled inventiveness.

Designers’ catwalks can also send very important messages – for example, Tara Simeon’s catwalk in the September 2018 edition of Leatherworld. Simeon is a young designer who came to people’s attention during Africa Source, another Messe Frankfurt trade fair. When observing a charity distributing goods to poverty-stricken children, she was deeply troubled by how fast the pillows disappeared – often quicker than the food. This need for protection and comfort has been interpreted into dual-purpose clothing that can be turned into pillows, bedding or shelter.

To talk is to feel

Conferences and talks on the most recent trends, innovations and sourcing possibilities are given during the four days of the fair. Lectures cover various themes related to trade, economy and technology. In Leatherworld, fashion experts talk about the alternatives to leather, the future of shoes or the sustainable development in the leather industry.

There are also forums, with the goal to suffuse the visitors and exhibitors with the latest turns in fashion, and have them touch and feel the materials for a more exciting visit. A specific trend forum dedicated to leather will highlight the best and most beautiful manufactured products to represent the exhibition.

Special itineraries

During the fair, two itineraries – ‘Small Quantity’ and ‘Sustainable Sourcing’ – are set to take place. The ‘Small Quantity’ itinerary is formed from manufacturers that offer fabrics on stock and in fewer quantities (50-100m for fabrics, and less than 100 pieces for clothes); it enables designers to search for products in minor quantities, or for capsule collections. The ‘Sustainable Sourcing’ itinerary features ecological materials produced in environmentally friendly processes, with viable social standards. This last itinerary showcases around 100 suppliers of organic cotton, linen and hemp, recycled materials and similiarly sustainable textiles.

The esteemed guest list

Huge brands are visiting Leatherworld in 2019, including 3 Suisses, Abercrombie & Fitch, Adidas, All Saints, Barbara Bui, Benetton, Bensimon, Bershka, Bimba & Lola, Burberry, Bon Marché, C&A, Calvin Klein, Celio, Cheap Monday, Chevignon, Coach, Cyrillus, Eden park, El Corte Inglès, Escada, Etam, Galeries Lafayette, Giorgio Armani, Groupe Beaumanoir, Guess, Hugo Boss, H&M, Kookai, La Halle, La Redoute, Lacoste, Leclerc, Lee Cooper, Levi’s, Mango, Marks & Spencer, Monoprix, New Look, Puma, Ralph Lauren, Reebok, Rip Curl, Samsonite, Spartoo, Stella Forest, Tara Jarmon, Topshop, Walmart, Zadig & Voltaire, and Zara, among many others.

True to its stated intention of making Leatherworld Paris an event for flexible materials and finished products, Messe Frankfurt France has launched a new exhibition concept relevant to all solutions for shoes, clothing and accessories in the world of fashion.

A haven for fashion

Leatherworld is collocated with the other renowned textile events of Messe Frankfurt France, such as Apparel Sourcing, Avantex Paris, Shawls & Scarves, Texworld Paris and Texworld Denim, at Paris Le Bourget Exhibition Centre. The shows are held twice a year, in February and September, under the name ‘The Fairyland for Fashion’, which gathers more than 1,850 exhibitors.