From 21 to 23 February 2023, the Lineapelle opened its doors in Milan. Lineapelle is not just any fair, it is one of the most important and largest fairs for leather, accessories, synthetic materials and fashion producers.
At Louis Lucano, we are always looking for new inspiration, new non-animal based materials and new ways to complement our products, so a visit to Lineapelle was a given. We packed our things and went from Berlin to Milan.
Spread over a total of 6 halls, thousands of exhibitors, material samples, manufacturing methods, accessories and impressions could be gained. The overall impression of the event was definitely positive, although the size alone meant that it took quite a bit of orientation to find specific areas or manufacturers.
As a vegan and animal-free company, synthetic materials and leather alternatives were of particular interest to us. To our surprise, the topic of sustainability and animal welfare was much more present than we had assumed. At the beginning of our visit to the fair, this was of course a positive surprise, but we would like to go deeper into the topic below, as it was ultimately not as the first impression conveyed.
What clearly stood out was that apart from PU leather variants, there are very few types of non animal leather like materials. While every second manufacturer presented themselves as sustainable and animal friendly it was just a masquerade to jump on current trends.
What caught our eye was especially when manufacturers had the words “Birth”, “Life”, “Next Life” or “Animal Friendly” written in large letters on their stands. It is not only very irritating, but simply misinformation that can confuse trade fair visitors. It turned out to be just naming conventions to dye leather. Of course, we understand that manufacturers want to jump on the current sustainability trend and appear as "green" as possible. But as long as animals are killed for a material, no greenwashing in the world can be the solution.
Particularly confusing for us was a company excessively using the term "olive leather". The whole stand was filled with happy animals, pictures of nature and leaves. You might think that they were advertising for some new kind of material, but no. It turned out to be just regular leather dyed with some olives instead of a certain chemical. Another interesting case for us was when we noticed the large poster where two apples were positioned and the skin of the other apple turned into leather. Since we use a leather alternative from apples (AppleSkin) for our bags, we went straight to the stand to find out more. Right next to the stand we noticed the basket with fresh apples and thought: this must be the right place. We were wrong, the friendly hostess lady explained to us that they were selling bull skin. When we asked her how this is related to the apples, she said that it is as natural as when the skin of an apple peels.
These are only a few examples we would like to mention here, but all in all it is amazing how many producers and leather manufacturers adorn themselves with the term "sustainable" or just jump on the trend, which is not authentic at all and goes in the direction of greenwashing. Leather as a material has been there for a long time. Leather combines high-quality material properties, visual aspects and robustness. It is not for nothing that leather is a very popular material for shoes, handbags, jackets and more. It was all the more surprising for us that only a few exhibitors really advertised leather as such. Rather, the majority were busy highlighting other aspects, so that leather as a product was hardly relevant.
Besides those setbacks we met new companies and manufacturers which we will analyze for further corporations. Among others we met with Mirum. Mirum is a new plant-based and plastic-free material perfect for fashion applications. As they already work with a few fashion brands there is proof that Mirum works well for fashion application which is quite interesting to us.
Another new manufacturer was natuura from Taiwan who use natural rubber and a recycled surface to create leather like alternatives. Last but not least, Elastron Group had some interesting materials for us. Besides their real leather assortment they also offer advanced fabrics from recycled plastics to create high quality materials for different applications. Not only did Elastron positively surprise us just with their range of colours and fabrics but also with their long company history and knowledge.