Innovation in tanning, marketing that’s better targeted to younger demographics and a more responsive and creative approach to customers – these are among the critical points raised during the 2019 Shanghai Shake-up during ACLE in September, “Redesigning a Future for Leather”. The event featured two panels, one focused on How to Transform the Role of the Tanner and the second on Why Aren’t Designers Using Leather?
As traditional leather struggles to hold onto its market, tanners will have to abandon the production of commodity leather and innovate to not only survive, but thrive. Jeanete Jost Collet, owner of Jost & Collet Consultancy, presented strategies for tanners on how they should approach innovation, as well as why it’s critical. Many of her points were echoed by Zhao Ziling, General Manager and Technical Director of Fenice Leather Technology, who also enumerated the ways that his tannery is developing and setting into motion new approaches.
Turning to designers and leather, the second panel looked at what factors are preventing them from using more of it. From the footwear perspective, Kerry Brozyna, vice president and general manager of Wolverine Leather and Materials Sourcing at Wolverine Worldwide, presented the results of a survey of their brand designers regarding what elements are most important to them. “Designers want to work with suppliers who understand their brand’s specific needs,” Brozyna said, emphasizing that responsiveness to customers is critical for suppliers.
Marketing is also key, as Jacopo Pesavento managing partner of Branding Records in Hong Kong, stressed. One of the criticisms of leather marketing found online is that in most cases, it is very dated and out of touch with today’s younger consumers. Further, Orietta Pelizzari of Mattori Studio, Ashley Li Nan, founder of the Yijin Fashion Design Centre and Emma Zhang, founder of Beijing Leadership consulting, presented the fashion designer’s perspective on using leather, with Pelizzari summing it all up by saying this: Designers aren’t going to use leather just because they like it as a material. They will use it because it is the right material to tell the story they want to convey with their collections.