Earlier this week we had the pleasure of attending one of APLF (Asia Pacific Leather Fair) event in Hong Kong. The event was Materials Manufacturing & Technology.
It was a large event that ran for three days. Many tanneries from various countries attended with their leathers on display. Our goal was to experience first hand what these tanneries has to offer. We were very specific with our requirement which allows us to narrow down handfull of tanneries that can potentially work with us in the future.
The tanneries that has gained our interest were from Belgium, England, Japan and Italy.
Masure Tannery from Belgium was outstanding, the leather has excellent temper, very smooth and supple. It also has the best vegetable-tanned smell (in our opinion), smooth and mellow, far from overpowering. *We strongly believe that sense of smell plays a very important role in our life as such that we are always on the lookout for leather that smell 'right'*. We sat down with Thomas to discuss about his leather. He was honest and very knowledgable, outstanding tannery and people skill, thumbs up from us.
Clayton Leather from England has very interesting leathers on display, not to mention one of the only four tanneries in the world that produces Shell Cordovan leather. We chatted with Ian about his tannery and new product that they are doing at the moment. He also showed us his wallet made from their own Shell leather which was crafted by a Japanese craftsman. An overall nice gentleman with deep knowledge of tannery and leather.
Next up was Phoenix from Japan, we were initially drawn towards their booth not by their leather but by their embossing equipment, a hefty stainless steel tool with the capability of interchanging embossing logo, a very neat tool albeit expensive one. Turns out they are also a supplier for an excellent Japanese leather. Although they didn't explicitly mention which tannery they sourced their leather from, however based on their sheet we were under the impression that the leather comes from Tochigi Tannery, which is a good thing. The temper of the leather is very similar to that of Masure with more pronounced grain and character, very impressive. The only thing that Masure has the edge is the smell, the Japanese leather has a stronger smell, slightly overpowering in our opinion. Yoshikawa was very helpful and always polite. Despite the language barrier he always manage to help us with our queries. He even remembered us from the day before. Thumbs up.
Last but not least were tanneries from Italy. We visited Italeather booth and was immediately impressed by their quality and range of leathers. Their natural vegetable-tanned leather may not have the same suppleness as the leather that comes from Masure but their coloured vegetable-tanned is something else. Beautiful colour and rich character combine with aniline dyed is something that I would definitely be happy working with. Whilst admiring the leather we were approached by Sandro, a passionate gentleman. We chatted a fair bit and left the booth with positive impression.
Overall the expo has been a very positive experience for us, we have gained much needed contacts for high quality vegetable tanned leather. We are strongly considering working with the the above mentioned tanneries to give us more option and creative direction.