My experience is that Lineapelle like most trade shows are individual experiences, to some the answer to the questions are not all yes or all no but somewhere in between. For myself the answers are as follows. Was it a good show? Yes very good, I am personally fulfilling a new role and I saw everyone (nearly everyone) I wanted to see, had good discussions and personally gained some business, having said that as I moved around the show I saw many stands empty with half asleep salesman manning the ship! I saw many stands that were very full and seemingly busy.

Was the fair busy as a whole? I find this difficult to answer after years of attending the fair in Bologna when you got a feel for how busy the show was. Milan is bigger more spread out and I have difficulty gauging how busy the show is and how many ‘tyre kickers’ are in attendance! Also, the changing of dates plus the effect of Premier Vision in Paris a week earlier must have had some effect.

Did I see anything new? Well no to be honest but then again when did I see something completely new and different? What I did see and hear was an acceptance that brands were not going to sit back and see the escalation in leather prices and there was becoming a realisation from tanners and brands the need to sit down and come to realistic agreements on prices that gave both brands and tanners margins they could work with. Some kind of longer term strategy that would give a more stabilised business, this I think is the best news for everyone, more discussion, more transparency and more trust.

So in short, I am sure for some it was a good fair, for some not so good, but I think fairs have always been the same. In my experience all fairs are useful, the intelligence, the connections both new and renewing old ones are all vital. It is difficult to quantify straight away how useful the fair has been, will the tanner return big orders? Probably not, will the buyer return with something new, probably not. Will both return with more knowledge, more intelligence, a better understanding of the market? Probably yes, so it probably was a good fair, it’s just difficult to quantify.

Andy Seaward, Director.

Seaward Material Solutions

About the author

Andy Seaward worked for Clarks for 45 years in various positions. Seaward moved into material sourcing in 1990 and spent the past 25 years sourcing leathers and synthetics for men, women and children’s shoe’s as Clarks Global Materials Manager responsible for the sourcing of materials for both the UK and the US operations. This entailed sourcing materials and working with tanners from all over the globe.

Andy Seaward retired from Clarks in 2014 and has set up a consulting business, Seaward Material Solutions, for brands and tanners. He now uses his experience to help companies achieve better results and pass on his knowledge of the industry and sourcing.