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Parallel Programmes and Seminars of Great Importance
Mike Redwood | 14 March 2019

Leather Naturally Breakfast Seminar

Day two was clearly a little quieter than the opening day but the quality of meetings was probably improved as a consequence. The final figures will show if this reflects footfall or the success of the parallel programme of events which fill all three days and more. The morning had an early start with the Leather Naturally Breakfast with a packed room being updated on the organisation, membership and crowdfunding for the campaign. There is clear momentum in the activity and the initial target is clearly close.

Other meetings on the Leather Naturally Talks stage included presentations from Wollsdorf regarding Leather Innovations, Restoring Antique Leather and an Inward Investment promotion by Ethiopia. The sustainability dominance in industry thinking was maintained with a busy and attentive session on Sustainable Fashion in the morning along with the important regular full afternoon on Sustainability in the Leather Supply Chain.

Historically these meetings were resented for pulling visitors and exhibitors off the main floor, but they are now an accepted central part of an major trade shows where visitors of all types expect opportunities to learn and mingle alongside peers, while at the same time taking the opportunity of being in one place to get updated on all matters of mutual interest. It creates the sort of dynamic tension typical of many aspect of society today.

One major such area of hidden conflict lies in balancing the environmental need of buying less but buying better so that items will be kept longer and repaired, with the Instagram driven requirement for an ever changing wardrobe of fashionable clothes. No clear solution was uncovered for this except that the changing concepts around ownership and rental of clothing were introduced. Given that leather items do usually age well, and certainly better than alternates, this is probably worth serious consideration. Double value, therefore, from the Restoring Antique Leather session.

Out on the floor there was little sign of the hoped for upturn in business, but quite a lot of evidence that a floor was near and things would not be getting too much worse. It was hard to uncover innovation on the stands, and the staid, somewhat self-satisfied image of the industry at rest remains. Let us hope it is not waiting for a cyclical consumer purchasing improvement as it might have to wait until the Millennials age into Boomers.