APLF- the meeting place for the global leather industry12 March 2015
Expectations for the 31st APLF (APLF MM&T) are understandably high after the success of last year’s show. On 30 March to 1 April 2015, all eyes will be on the Convention & Exhibition Centre as the international leather community assembles once again in Hong Kong.
This year's APLF MM&T (Materials, Manufacturing and Technology) will take place against a backdrop of tight leather supplies and near record prices as scarcer raw material supplies have propelled leather prices higher over 2014. Although prices have eased somewhat since the Christmas vacation period, the ingredients for another push higher are still latent.
Many countries have banned or restricted the export of raw materials to ensure supply for their national industry and the world's major exporter of hides, the US, currently has the smallest bovine herd on record since 1951. At some point, herd rebuilding will limit slaughter and hence hide supplies.
With diminished supplies compared with recent years, buyers needing raw materials will be looking to a professional business platform in order to source and make new contacts. APLF MM&T is the world's most important leather fair and appropriately denominated 'the meeting place for the global leather industry', and will provide this badly needed sourcing platform for three days at the end of March. The global importance of APLF MM&T for the leather industry can be judged by the 25 national pavilions due to take part in this year's edition of this leading event.
Concierge service available for busy buyers
Buyers and exhibitors are sure to exchange views about where the industry is headed and, in this sense, the fair is an important networking opportunity for leather professionals and technicians.
So that buyers can maximise their limited time at the fair, the organisers will arrange a 'concierge service' to facilitate a specific itinerary to selected exhibitors or for visitors new to the show. This will enable them to visit, for example, leather for furniture, footwear, garments, leather goods and so on according to their needs, as well as arranging one-on-one meetings with exhibitors if they desire.
Leather Club and Forum
Now in its third year, the Leather Club and Forum, located on Concourse 1, will be a hub of activity and networking during this year's APLF. Presentations by experts on a wide range of topics relevant to the industry will feature; there is already an interesting tentative schedule at hand. CTC Groupe will be present, along with the Korea Apparel Testing & Research Institute (KATRI), and presentations from Stahl and one of Asia's leading tanneries, Prime Asia.
More details of the programme will be available soon, but noteworthy is the first Global Retail Footwear Conference, which will be held 10:00-13:00 on day two of the fair (31 March) at the Leather Club.
The Global Retail Footwear Conference will deal with retail in Asia, and take a look at how retailing in China differs from that in western countries.
Guest speakers include Matt Priest, president of the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America (FDRA), and William Wong of the Federation of Hong Kong Footwear.
The main topics will be:
- global footwear: retail situation and outlook in main markets
- focus on China: how should one operate a retail business in China? What are the specificities of the China market?
- multichannel retailing: the growing importance of online footwear retail in Asia.
"The global footwear retail landscape is rapidly evolving in an era of uncertainty and change," said Priest. "The Global Footwear Retail Conference will be instrumental in our industry's collective understanding of this new dynamic and will provide the strategies needed to ensure that we continue to grow our businesses. I anticipate that this event will be the must-attend footwear retail conference for years to come."
Sustainability in the supply chain
This year's APLF will also feature the International Leather Conference. Held on Tuesday 31 March 12.00-17.30 in room N101B, it will incorporate presentations in English covering topics including:
- animal welfare
- game-changing chemical solutions for green crust technologies
- green fungicides
- upstream chemical management using an MRSL in the leather industry
- a brand view on sustainability
- developments in green chemistry
The Sourcing Luxury display is a natural development of MM&T as a platform for sourcing all types of materials and components that embellish products from the luxury sector that has grown exponentially in recent years - especially in mainland China with its burgeoning middle class.
Furs and exotic leathers that lend that luxury touch to big name brands as well as handcrafted features, which can be a vital component in launching a product from the luxury to super-luxury category, were on view to interested visitors.
Such unusual and luxury items can also help fire the imagination of visiting designers to the Sourcing Luxury display.
Best of APLF Awards
The first Best of APLF Awards (BOAA) was held in March 2004 to mark the 20th anniversary of APLF's Material, Manufacturing & Technology fair. The organisers saw the need to raise the bar for all exhibitors by creating an awards programme that would encourage the pursuit of excellence in design and quality.
This is the mission of the BOAA and high standards of design originality are maintained by the experience of the five resident judges who include Olivier Guillemin as head of the judging panel from France.
Focus country: France
Members of the French leather industry are delighted that France has been designated the focus country for APLF 2015.
Conseil National du Cuir, the French Leather Council and SIC SA are showcasing the savoir faire of the French leather sector with a journey through a galerie, where visitors can cast their eye over the tradition and know-how of France, and also see the creativity and innovation that can be found on the stands of French exhibitors, which, for this occasion, will be located at the concourse outside Hall 1.
All the constituent elements of French excellence will be showcased here: the variety and quality of skins and the originality of French design, in an area where each visitor will be invited to share a moment of French expertise and conviviality.
The French pavilion has increased 84% in size this year and is made up of 41 exhibitor stands, all of which are suppliers to the leading luxury houses, headed by the French Federation of Tanners (FFTM) and the French Hides Association, SGCP (Syndicat Général des Cuirs et Peaux brutes). There are seven new exhibitors: Alric, Absire Sevrey, Cuirs du Futur, Joqueviel & Cathala, Tannerie Mégisserie de la Molière, Megisserie Sofacuir and Oryag.
Two luminous Eiffel Towers will be situated at each entrance, inviting visitors to follow the circuit and six huge photographs of finished skins decorate the walls. Light boxes complete the exhibition, illustrating the expertise of the sector in salting, working and dyeing the leather, as well as glove making, saddle stitching for leather goods production and Goodyear welts for footwear production.
France is the fourth-largest exporter in the international leather market, taking all sectors into account. The image of French industry professionals is one of quality and creativity. The reputation of their production affords them a leading position on this market.
On two large tables, the creations of ten young entrepreneurial designers are presented like objets d'art, made from French leather in the colours of the French flag. Visitors can discover the bag sac de jour and its silk robe created by Valéry Damnon, dandy shoes for men and women by Jour Ferié Paris, or a spray of flowers in origami leather by Sophie Marionnet among the many things on offer.
Other APLF events
APLF will be holding two pre-show webinars on 4 and 24 March, 17:00-18:00 in the evening (local time).
Featured topics will include a discussion on why leather has always been a sustainable material, led by Leather Naturally spokesperson Mike Redwood, and a presentation on sustainability for the entire leather processing chain from Mike Tomkin, director of sustainability at Stahl.
The leather industry, and its use of products across the complete chain, needs to adapt to the new requirements for greater transparency, environmental awareness and social responsibility.
As the leading company in process chemicals for the entire leather-processing chain, Stahl needs to play a proactive role throughout the supply chain and to offer viable solutions to the issues faced by the industry.
The webinar presents an excellent opportunity to discuss the whole issue with any interested parties.