Warning! Not suitable for vegetarians!
My daughter is studying shoe design at Cordwainers, London College of Fashion. She is currently undertaking a placement at Conker Shoes of Totnes, Devon. As part of her research for her final year project she wants to look at sustainably produced leather, Conkers is also interested in increasing their eco credentials and so gave her time off to attend the Lineapelle leather fair, I tagged along to see Bologna.
Leather to me means cow, pig or sheep skin but at Lineapelle there were also kangaroo, reindeer, buffalo, crocodile, lizard and fish skins (and probably many more I didn't notice!)
To the right are fish skins from Atlantic Leathers of Iceland, the top one is perch and the bottom is wolf fish, their main production is salmon skins.
I love soft 'glove' leathers but Anna was looking for much thicker skins suitable for the strain of pulling over a shoe last and for vegetable tanned leathers that she can colour herself.
Most of the leathers at the show were traditionally tanned using chemicals and chrome which is decidedly environmentally unfriendly! I have to admit that I thought many of the colours and finishes that the leathers were available in were also visually pretty awful, bright garish colours and tacky effects seemed a waste of good leather to me. CFM produce foils for heat pressing onto fabric that can also be used on leather, I'm afraid I think they should stay with the fabrics where they are often very effective.
One set of samples that Anna picked up were of scent impregnated leathers, neither of us were quite sure what anyone would actually use them for but she thought they would be good for amusing the staff in the workshop. The scents are, from left to right, strawberry, lavender, orange, mint and lemon. Perhaps they're meant to counteract smelly feet! Surprisingly the company who made these also produced a good range of vegetable tanned naturally dyed leathers in a range of thicknesses.
One of the busier stands had lots of boxes of samples for people to help themselves from. I never found out what the skins were (my Italian doesn't extend much beyond a menu) but the main point of interest were the patterns that had been laser cut into the hair of the animal. The dark lines in the pictures show where the laser has burnt away the hair so that the leather shows through, this is a technique I recognise from the demonstrations at LMU.
Some of the stands in the tannery halls had manned entry desks and were obviously not interested in small businesses but made for a very interesting fashion show. I was highly amused by the middle aged Italian men in immaculate patent leather shoes, with sharp tailored suits, crisp white shirts and dark glasses - perhaps I wasn't the only one who thought some of the colours a little too bright?
Flying in early on Wednesday morning to spend the rest of the day at the fair, I had chosen a hotel that was close by, which proved to be very nice with an excellent restaurant. An early start on Thursday gave us until mid afternoon at the fair and then the rest of the day to look around Bologna, which is a beautiful city that I would like to revisit at my leisure. The last bus to Forli Airport left at 7.10, with the flight at 10.35 meaning that even without checked bags it was 2am Friday before we got home.