13 March 2023
APLF Dubai 2023 opens today, from 13 – 15 March, at the Sheikh Saeed Halls 1- 3 of Dubai World Trade Centre.
After last year’s inaugural event in Dubai was held during the restrictions of the pandemic which limited the participation of both exhibitors and visitors from Southeast Asia and China, this year’s fair witnesses the return of both Chinese exhibitors and buyers after the zero-covid policy was eased in late December 2022.
Supporting and participating organisations
Support for APLF has been forthcoming from the China Leather Industry Association (CLIA) and other regional leather and footwear associations in China as the country gears up for its return to the international business platform offered by APLF. The Chinese regional associations that supporting the APLF Dubai are:
The Association of Guangdong Shoes Manufacturers, Guangdong Shoes Materials Association, Guangzhou Footwear Association, Guangzhou Huadu District Shiling Town People′s Government, Guangdong International Trade Company Limited, Fujian Province Jinjiang City Foreign Trade Co Ltd, Shangdong Province Linyi Small and Medium Enterprise Bureau, and the Hebei Province Baoding Baigou New Town Administration Committee.
These organisations will complement the 15 national pavilions from Botswana, Brazil, China, Egypt, France, India, Italy, Pakistan, South Africa, Türkiye and Vietnam, present at APLF in Dubai this year.
Buying groups have been organised from the following countries: Belarus, China, Egypt, France, Hong Kong China, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Russian Federation, South Korea, Thailand, United Arab Emirates and United Kingdom.
The mix of associations present will ensure an East-West spread and commercial interaction at the trade fair reflecting the global nature of the international leather and fashion sectors.
The APLF Leather fair covers the whole supply chain of the leather making industry and offers hundreds of finished leathers for all application from footwear and leathergoods, to garments and upholstery. This makes APLF Leather a unique sourcing event in the Middle East and North African region (MENA).
The advantageous geographical location of Dubai makes for easy flight access from Europe and Asia, as well as from CIS countries in the north and African nations in the south.
The economic outlook for regional markets is quite varied according to the latest IMF forecasts. For example, GDP growth in China is predicted to hit 5.2% this year, whereas the US is just forecasted at 1.4% and Europe expected to be flat.
In the case of the MENA region (Middle East and North Africa, GDP growth is forecasted at 3.2% this year and in the case of the ASEAN trade bloc, the figure is predicted at 4.6% according to the Asian Development Bank.
Inflationary pressures during 2022 have complicated the global economic outlook but the driver of the economy in 2023 will be Asia as western markets deal with inflation and sagging consumer confidence, triggered by what is termed the “cost of living crisis”.
As the business hub of the Middle East, Dubai has shown itself to be a magnet for well-heeled consumers and the World Trade Centre hosts well over 200 international trade fairs for multiple commercial, industrial, and business sectors.
Nevertheless, APLF will continue to serve the global leather and fashion sectors, even in difficult economic periods, as it did at the turn of the century with the dot com crash, and also in 2009 after the global financial crisis spread from a fractured US mortgage debacle.
Beyond Commercial Activity
Historically, APLF started out as a trade fair over thirty years ago and has evolved into a complete, integral event not only for business deals, but also for educational conferences, seminars and workshops, as well as fashion shows and material / colour trend displays which are of particular interest to manufacturers and designers seeking inspiration.
This year sees the third edition of the Global Footwear Executive Summit (GFES) and seminars organised by Leather Naturally. In total the workshops planned for this year’s event are: 2 courses about leather foundation and 2 courses about footwear design. for the upcoming fashion seasons. And it is not just a question of sustainable materials and manufacturing techniques. Sustainability starts at the design stage and this year APLF is focusing on design.
LED – Leather Design project
At APLF ASEAN held in Bangkok last October, top-notch Asian designers were invited to participate in the LED project conceived by APLF.
L.E.D. Project is a collaborative initiative with the primary aim to connect fellow independent, talented Designers with APLF Leather Exhibitors. As the very first edition of the project, APLF has invited 7 remarkable top Asian designer brands to collaborate with APLF’s suppliers to produce a APLF edition of their unique pieces of leather handbags, which will be displayed in APLF in Dubai.
The list of participating L.E.D. Brands featured in APLF 2023, includes Bangkok Bootery, Marroque, Dash, La Mitra, Byo, Mynte, and Vera.
All the 7 brands will display the specially made leather bags at the Designer Area during APLF 2023 in Dubai.
Partnering with ESMOD Dubai
In line with its commitment to promoting the use of leather, APLF is collaborating with the French Fashion Institute in Dubai, ESMOD, that will be APLF’s institutional partner, to work together in raising students’ and young designers’ awareness about the leather and fashion industry, as well as enriching their knowledge in this field of work.
Through providing a display area in APLF at the Dubai World Trade Centre, it allows ESMOD to offer their students valuable opportunities to connect and place a foot onto the business platform. Students will be able to showcase their product sketches, and leather garments, including those using camel leather during the APLF event.
In addition, an onsite workshop is available for ESMOD Dubai students and all the APLF attendees to visit and participate in. The workshop will be conducted by one of the ESMOD professors – Maurizio Iacopini, who is a famous Italian Shoe designer.
In 2024 APLF will return to its base in Hong Kong from 19 – 21 March.