Hong Kong – 31 March 2017 - At the APLF wrap-up press conference held in the afternoon of the final day of APLF 2017, APLF Director Michael Duck described the atmosphere at the event as being “optimistic and vibrant”. And not one of the specialised journalists present disagreed with or questioned his assessment of a successful fair that had seen the leather and materials industry emerge from the doldrums of uncertainty that had pervaded the sector for at least three years.
As the most international event for the global leather industry APLF has become an integral part of it after almost 3 and a half decades and reflects actual market conditions and the medium-term outlook. Perhaps the signs for a positive fair were already visible as the main tannery hall had been sold out two months before the event meaning that certain important tanneries had little option but to be placed on a waiting list.
Even before the fair started leather expert David Peters of DLP Advisers from the USA had predicted a “terrific year” for the leather industry and the number of buyers passing through the fair bore out this forecast.
Any negative news was thrust into the background from the word “Go” as enthusiastic buyers arrived in droves early on Day 1 with the intention of doing business. In fact, many stands were rushed off their feet with the Japanese pavilion being particularly active even at almost 5pm on Day 3 as the fair was winding down.
The Clayton Leather Group from the UK brought extra staff with them this year and were still under pressure from the number of enquiries, according to Group Chairman Ian T. Walker, who signed a supply contract on his stand with a Hong Kong based leathergoods manufacturer during the fair.
International Sales Manager of exotic leather tannery, Ecocaiman from Bogotá in Colombia, Diego Ricaurte, said “We have been busy all day” and it was the same story throughput the fair in the French, Italian and Brazilian pavilions.
Materials+ generates keen interest
The rebranded components and synthetics section of APLF was also populated by interested buyers. It is targeted at serving not only the traditional footwear and leathergoods components sector but primarily the booming athleisure trend now dominating fashion in Europe, North America and Asia.
It was the high technology of the CAD-CAM cutting machinery that attracted many buyers. The stands of Italian companies ATOM and Comelz were crowded for extended periods as these companies performed live demonstrations of their laser cutting technology.
Talking to stand supervisor of WIG Korea, Johnny Kim, on Day 3 revealed that lunch had been out of the question for him due to the number of enquiries received. WIG Korea displayed a wide range of decorative icons ideal for athleisure garments and footwear and Mr Kim indicated to APLF that the company’s main client was Nike which is a testimony to the quality of these products.
In fact, there was constant movement in the Materials+ hall and the evolution of this sector to serve the athleisure boom is showing promising signs of becoming a permanent fixture at APLF.
There are always negatives in the media to which businessmen pay too much attention instead of getting on and doing business which is why they come to an international trade fair such as APLF in the first place.
Any pessimistic thoughts being harboured in exhibitors’ minds before APLF got underway were soon dispelled as buyers arrived intent of doing business. It was as if there had been a collective decision to “get on with life and business” rather than brooding about “what might happen”.
Finally, for the APLF Leather & Materials+ fair visitor figures increased overall by 4.33% compared to the 2016 event with a notable increase from China, all of which added to the positive, business-like atmosphere.