30 March 2023
A three-day business and educational fair, the 37th APLF held as a second special edition in Dubai, concluded on 15th of March, 2023, at the Dubai World Trade Centre, Sheikh Saeed Halls. Recognised by the leather industry as the most important trade fair, this one-of-a-kind event brought in 341 exhibitors, 15 national pavilions and attracted over 5,000 visitors from 92 countries and regions.
“It is a pleasure to host our annual leather trade fair once again in Dubai, UAE, which is a melting pot of cultures and nationalities,” said David Bondi, Senior Vice President, Informa Markets Asia and a Director of APLF. “Dubai being easily accessible from the American, European as well as the Asian subcontinents, was a contributing factor to the international nature of the trade show.”
With the end of covid restrictions in Hong Kong and China, this year the long-awaited Chinese suppliers and buyers also participated, giving attendees the opportunity to take full advantage of the business platform traditionally offered to the leather and fashion sectors by APLF.
Said a very happy and satisfied Fernanda Schwade, CEO of Liderkoll from Brazil, “The 37th Dubai special edition of APLF has been a very productive experience for us as we were able to connect and network with quality contacts from across the globe.”
Seconding her was Muhammad Ali, Secretary General, Pakistan Tanners Association, “It’s not the quantity but the quality of buyers we have been able to connect with that has made it worthwhile at APLF Dubai.”
A comprehensive offer
Another notable feature at APLF was the Global Footwear Executive Summit (GFES) and seminars organised by Leather Naturally, Lanxess, GIZ (The German Society for International Cooperation) and Santoni. A total of four workshops took place at this year’s edition, which included two on Leather Foundation and two on Footwear Design presented by ESMOD Dubai.
Some of the more pressing issues in the Leather industry were also addressed at the fair. Pointing out the importance of continued research in environment compliance and waste management solutions, Jonathan Sibanda, Technical Advisor at GIZ asserted, “Our consistent efforts as part of the leather value chain need to be brought to the forefront.” He insisted that these were not overnight solutions; but with consistent and persistent engagement they would continue to strive towards their goals.
Commenting on the participation at the trade show, Amedeo Scarpa, Trade Commissioner of Italian Trade Agency in the UAE said, “In recent years, the industry has made great investments in innovation and technology not only to create better products, but also reduce the environmental impact on the tanning process as well as retell the story of the Leather Industry. We want to offer an opportunity to industry players to exchange ideas and build partnership for the energy transition, contributing to the UAE Net Zero by 2050 strategy.”
Adding more flavor, the event saw three Featured Designer Brands in leather bag making. Each of the three: Nuniz, Cairo; Thalie, Paris and Warp, Pakistan shared their entrepreneurial story, their brand DNA and keys to becoming a successful leather goods designer.
Nadia Zarkani, creative director at Nuniz shared why she loves working with leather, “It’s a material that breathes, has a character of its own, molds well and gives immense opportunities in terms of creative aspects.” Sharing her inspiration behind her brand said Hirra Babar of Warp, “Pakistan produces beautiful leather but we haven’t seen a lot of value addition done with it.”
Building on from APLF ASEAN held in Bangkok last October, seven top-notch Asian designers collaborated with APLF leather exhibitors as part of a collaborative initiative – the L.E.D. project. Bangkok Bootery, Marroque, dash., La Mitra, Byo, Mynte and Vera displayed their specially made leather bags which were a sight for those who paused to appreciate the works of art and blended in functionality.
The Design-A-Bag Online competition
Of the three fiercely competitive designs, Moyang Yang’s Care Bag from United Kingdom scored the highest, winning herself a five-week bag design course at Arsutoria School, Milan and much more.
Said Nathalie Dionne, one of the judging panel members, “Moyang’s bag was a winner not just because her bag had a strong story to tell of caring for the people of colour – of their inner strength reflected by the use of lining of the bag; but also because she had already thought of her design in terms of marketing it, and production feasibility while not losing sight of her goals from start to finish.”
Best of APLF Awards
In keeping with the need to raise the bar for all exhibitors, APLF organisers have created an awards program that encourages the pursuit of excellence in design and quality since 2004. This year’s BOAA winners were: Best Leather Craft – SiC Cat (Guangzhou) Technology Co Ltd, Best Sustainable Leather – Scottish Leather Group, Best Tanning Process Innovation – KLF Technokimica, Best Innovation in Leather Finishing – Uyguner Deri, Best Fashion Leather Collection – TEAMpiel International and Best Classic Leather Collection – Wollsdorf Leather.
With the confirmation from APLF organisers that the show would return to Hong Kong from 19 – 21 March, 2024; the sense of relief and enthusiasm were palpable at the return of APLF to its home base in the context of the normal fair calendar. For more information, please contact [email protected].