19 March 2024

APLF’s Return to Hong Kong coincides with its 40th Anniversary

In early June 1984, in a car park in central Hong Kong, the first edition of the Hong Kong International Leather Fair (later to become APLF) was held.


The founder of the fair, Derek Dickins, had the vision to realise that China was to become the most dynamic component of the global footwear and leather industry. This was based on the economic reforms instituted in 1979 by then Chinese leader, Deng Xiaoping, known as the Open Door Policy.


This policy permitted private enterprises to flourish, trade with the world, and unfetter production from centralized and stifling regulations. For the leather and footwear sector, Hong Kong and its annual leather event became the gateway to China, facilitating trade through Hong Kong’s free trade area and its function as Asia’s commercial and financial hub.


Now, 40 years later, the leather fair now branded as APLF Leather has returned to its home base after an absence of five years, to coincide with four decades of serving the Leather and Fashion industry.


APLF has always moved to reflect changes in the industry. For example, the fair’s updating can be seen from its name changes that resulted in transforming its focus and branding. The Hong Kong International Leather Fair became the Asia Pacific Leather Fair; this then became APLF Materials Manufacturing & Technology: to APLF Leather & Materials+ and now APLF Leather.


As the Meeting Place of the Global Leather Industry, APLF has experienced and overcome the vicissitudes of external events impacting the economy and the industry itself.  Such events were the SARS outbreak in 2003; the financial crisis and collapse if the hide market in 2008/2009 and last but not least, the pandemic which forced the fair to temporarily relocate to Dubai in 2022 and 2023.


Despite such challenges and disruptions, APLF persevered and continued its Mission of Serving the Leather and Fashion industry.


2024 – The 40th Anniversary


The 2024 event is taking place at the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre (HKCEC) in a 3-in-1 format. That is, APLF Leather is held concurrently with its sister fairs, Materials+ and Fashion Access as in 2019.


However, the layout of the fair will be different this year. The leather fair will move from Level 1 of the exhibition centre to Level 3, where there is more space to accommodate exhibitors and widen the aisles so as to avoid crowding. Fashion Access and Materials+ are now relocated on Level 1.


The whole manufacturing supply chain will be present under one roof for three intense days of business and conversations between exhibitors, buyers, peers and competitors alike. Leather, materials, components, and technology all combine to produce the finished products and accessories on display in Fashion Access.


For the 40th anniversary of APLF, several associations and national pavilions will participate in the fair. The annual meetings of organizations like the International Council of Tanners (ICT), ICHSLTA, Leathersellers’ Company, The UK Leather Federation, Leather Working Group and Leather Naturally will be held.


Additionally, national pavilions from prominent tanning nations will support APLF, including Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Korea, Pakistan, Portugal, Mexico, Spain, Thailand, Türkiye, Uzbekistan, and the USA. Major manufacturing countries like China, India, Pakistan, South Africa and Vietnam will be present in Fashion Access.


Economic Backdrop to the Fair


The current economic outlook is polarized internationally between western, developed economies in Europe and the US, and the major developing economies in Asia.


The economies in the Euro Area are forecasted to grow by a mere 0.1% in 2024. The US is expected to do somewhat better with 3.1% growth boosted by the massive subsidies of the Inflation Reduction Act and lower energy costs. On the other hand, Asia’s main economic drivers, India, and China, are predicted to grow by 7.6% and 5.2% respectively this year.


Other important economic indicators such as the Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) and levels of Consumer Confidence, that reflect production and demand for goods and services, are also ahead in both India and China.

GDP Annual Growth Manufacturing PMI Consumer Confidence
Euro Area
Source: Trading Economics

Demand for consumer goods including leather accessories looks resilient in Asia and in terms of big-ticket items, special emphasis should be made on the Chinese auto market where, in 2023, more than 30 million new vehicles were sold for the first time, including 9.7 million electric and hybrid units.


APLF is the commercial hub for the leather manufacturing and fashion accessories industry in Asia. As such, it is the ideal business platform for western suppliers and Asian customers to meet and do business in a professional, well-organised atmosphere.



Onsite Events


Over the years, APLF has become more than just a trade fair as it was transformed into an integrated, international event. It now hosts seminars, conferences, and trend areas – designed to cover all aspects of the industry alongside a more traditional trade fair where the most important companies were exhibiting from over 40 countries worldwide.


In this way, the trade show is complemented by a series of conferences, forums and workshops to create a rounded and integrated event for all industry stakeholders.


Main onsite events include:


Global Footwear Executive Summit


In its third edition, Global Footwear Executive Summit is an annual gathering of industry leaders, executives, and professionals from the global footwear sector. Held on 20th March 2024, participants gain valuable knowledge about the latest advancements in materials, manufacturing technologies, retail strategies, and consumer behaviour.


Let’s Talk Leather Masterclass


Designer Maker Yusuf Osman, together with Technical Consultant Karl Flowers from the UK, will bring the masterclass to Hong Kong. Tailored for designers, this course will provide participants with technical and practical insights into the characteristics and applications of different types of leather.


Leather Foundation Course for Fashion Professionals


Hosted by Technical Consultant Karl Flowers, this course is specifically designed for fashion professionals including producers, designers, buyers, and store trainers. It aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the technical aspects of leather, including the tanning process, types of leather, leather products, care instructions, and an overview of leather testing and certification.


Highlights of Networking Events


The Leather and Hide Council of America (LHCA), together with Dow Chemical and PrimeAsia, will be sponsoring the APLF evening after-show cocktail party on March 20th.


LHCA will announce the designs of the Real Leather Stay Different campaign, which showcases the innovative use of leather in creative works by design talents from the US and other regions.


Additionally, don’t forget about Leather Naturally’s breakfast meeting on the same morning. This leather promotion group will provide an update on their future plans for uniting the industry to convey the correct message about leather as a sustainable material to the public.


This year, APLF has set up a charity shop to support the Children’s Cancer Foundation. The net profit of the shop will be donated to the beneficiary to support their medication and family.


Apart from this, the organisers have prepared a series of seminars, workshops and display areas throughout the exhibition which enables the audiences to participate. Visit www.aplf.com to register and for the most updated information.

About APLF

We bring leather, material and fashion businesses together: an opportunity to meet and greet face to face. We bring them from all parts of the world so that they can find fresh partners, discover new customers or suppliers and keep ahead of industry developments.


We organise a number of trade exhibitions which focus on fashion and lifestyle: sectors that are constantly in flux, so visitors and exhibitors alike need to be constantly aware both of the changes around them and those forecast for coming seasons.


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