World Leather Congress 2017 2nd. issue

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World Leather Congress: heading towards 2020
The topics tackled at an international event such as WLC are many, even too many, ranging from the evolution of business patterns up to research-related issues and to the analysis of the sector’s crucial matters. Special attention will be undoubtedly paid to the changes taking place in the hosting country: as a matter of fact, in just 15 years, China has grown into of the main protagonists of the global tanning industry and now, relying on its great
planning ability, it’s getting ready to shape a more sustainable future in line with the economic standards achieved by Beijing.Trying not to interfere with the topics that will be debated on August 30 th in Shanghai, this special issue is going to focus on two pivotal issues.
The first one describes the outlooks set for 2020 concerning the main target sectors for the leather industry, involving some of the most renowned experts representing five manufacturing branches (namely, footwear, leatherware, furnishing, automotive and clothing). This analysis highlights that, in the next few years, the current situation regarding the end markets for finished hides may vary to the benefit, first of all, of the automotive branch and, in second place, of the furniture industry: in this way, the latter might be able to put an end to the crisis begun in 2008 and that has been further worsened by the fierce competition of cheaper products similar to leather.
On the other hand, the footwear field, especially the medium and low-end companies, may have to face some difficulties. In a world currently dominated by technical and high-performance materials, the main challenge for leather lies in research, in order to adjust its natural characteristics – that synthetic fabrics completely lack – to the new consumption patterns and needs.
The second interesting topic concerns digital communication, since tanneries are not very keen on using even traditional channels and tools. Such a trend is easily confirmed by the limited number of companies supported by either external press offices or in-house departments focusing on marketing, event organization and communication. It’s high time to start explaining to all those not acquainted with this sector, what kind of processes take place in such mysterious factories, showing the amazing transformation of a mere by-product into the iconic material beloved by many luxury brands. This is a necessary solution in order to raise, also on a local scale, the awareness concerning this activity; as a matter fact, when the companies and the territory manage to share the same views and goals, the continuity of the craft is secured as well as the support to a generational turnover that is based not only on profit margins, but also on the pride to belong to a specific sector. It’s time to open up and build a dream: it’s time for storytelling.