As we embarked on the 31st edition of the Asia Pacific Leather Fair (APLF) in Hong Kong this week (March 30-April 1) many who visit the show would agree it’s the best and most exciting show in the leather industry calendar even if it may not be the most important. But, why is that?

Firstly, it’s the place. Hong Kong is a small but densely populated and dynamic trading hub that is open for business and attracts people from all over the world. Wan Chai, Lan Kwai Fon and the Rugby Sevens start the APLF experience on a high. Fancy dress, girls dressed as bunnies, boys dressed as girls. It’s a spectacle and a funfest away from the stands.

International appeal

The APLF is the undisputed ‘most international fair’ in the world in this business and attracts people from every corner of the globe. You can rub shoulders with almost anyone from any country at the APLF.

A former colleague remarked to me once referring to the old Panamerican Leather Fair in Miami. “The best trade shows are the ones that have the show, the hotels and all the bars and restaurants within a square mile from each other”, and he was right. Sadly, the Miami fair is no longer around but the draw of Hong Kong continues as it fits the “square mile” criteria very well.

The infamous Joe Bananas in Wan Chai (which has reopened in the same location in 2015) which as I’ve said before is not as good as 200 other bars around Hong Kong remains the principle gathering point for the after show party, where hide traders go wild and throw beer over each other and the whole industry lets itself go and has some fun.

That’s the secret of the APLF and is why it remains so popular with the leather industry. It’s our escape, our secret.

It’s not just what happens in the show but what happens out the show in those alcohol-induced introductions, drinks receptions, conferences, side events that lead to new contacts and new business opportunities.

Whether the APLF is the most ‘important’ show in the leather industry is up for debate. But whether it’s the most fun and most enjoyable for many people is undeniable.

Martin Ricker, Content Director, International Leather Maker

Twitter: @ILMEditor