Out of Office until October

The Redwood Blog
Published:  26 August, 2014
Mike Redwood

If you are in the sports and outdoors industry it is sometimes hard to get to your office in the first three months of the year. So much so that the rather naughty Financial Times columnist, Lucy Kellaway, who spends her time poking fun at management jargon had a go at Adidas for an email message which said: 

“Thank you for your e-mail. adidas has a clear vision: passion. And it has a clear mission to be the leading sports brand in the world. During the year we will bring this mission to life with numerous exciting product and marketing initiatives. To work on this, I am out of the office until January 26.” “It is hard to know which is worse: the lack of irony, and cloying keenness, the phoniness or the downright irrelevance of the message,” wrote Ms Kellaway about this poor employee’s message. “Turning a factual piece of information (that this person is not at his desk) into an advertisement for himself and the company is so awful that I fear it will catch on.”

A bit stronger than poking fun, but the FT is always understated, and we agreed the point she made. But what she did not know to look at was the date. This person hoped to get back into their office on the 26th of January. If so this was perhaps a quick 24 hours between Outdoor in Salt Lake City and ispo in Munich although more often than not you have to fly overnight to attend both, Indeed with footwear and other shows added in the first three months of the year can be almost non-stop.

In the leather trade we have a much more civilised history. By the middle of the 20th century there was a gathering in London in the Spring and Paris in the autumn. Things changed when the UK dropped out and the inspirational Italian Lineapelle jumped to the fore. Then to everyone’s astonishment the consistently sure footed Paris Fair came abruptly to a stop. No designer could miss this show.

This was the moment when Asia began to figure and soon the must go to event was APLF, which this year celebrated its 30th anniversary, and for those with big interests in China and other parts of Asia ACLE in Shanghai soon came along. So the year was set with shows in Asia and Italy filling the calendar.

Then quietly a new show reappeared in Paris, perfectly fitting with the French industry’s determined move to build on its high quality domestic raw material and its skills in tanning technology to link into the luxury goods trade for which France is so famous, For top tanners to interface with Europe’s premium brands it has proved a success. It's not for everyone, indeed that is what is so good about it. One tanner told me a year or two ago that it was like having an office in Paris for a week.

But this new upstart appears to have created panic and suddenly all the shows are fighting for supremacy. So now we have most of the month of September lost to a continuation of shows. Meeting and seeing new things is important but doing it back to back so relentlessly is just too much. Not many tanneries have the scale of an Adidas to send multiple teams, and multiple sets of leather, around the world.

You could just put “out of office until October” but make sure you do not tell Lucy. And who will make the leather while your gone?

Mike Redwood

mike@internationalleathermaker.com

Follow Mike Redwood on twitter: @michaelredwood

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