The inaugural edition of Leatherworld Middle East got off to a rousing start in Dubai today (4 May), as 85 exhibitors from 10 countries showcased their latest animal hides, machinery, leather products and accessories in a market that’s establishing itself as a major force in the global leather industry.
Running for three days at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre, Leatherworld Middle East 2015 comes as figures released by Euromonitor International (EMI) show the Gulf region’s trade for semi-finished and finished leather, accessories, travel goods, handbags and footwear, was worth US$4.09 billion in 2014.
The GCC is also a leather manufacturing hub; according to EMI, US$1.9 billion worth of dressed leather, luggage, handbags, saddlery, harnesses and footwear were produced in the Gulf region last year, with Saudi Arabia (US$1.1 billion), the UAE (US$468 million), and Qatar (US$250 million) the region’s big three leather producers.
This will come as good news to dozens of top-flight international tanneries at Leatherworld Middle East’s dedicated Leather Production Area, where UAE-based Al Khaznah Tannery is sharing the limelight with 15 French and eight Italian tanneries making their first foray into the Middle East. Among these is exotic leather tanner Faggioli, presenting its new collection of hand-painted python skins.
“The Middle East is a prominent market for leather goods, accessories, furnishings, luggage and footwear, while it’s also a fast-growing manufacturing hub for all things leather-related,” said Ahmed Pauwels, CEO of Messe Frankfurt Middle East, the organiser of Leatherworld Middle East.
“As the market gains in stature internationally, events like Leatherworld Middle East have a significant role to play in fuelling the industry's overall growth and development.
Leatherworld Middle East is the region’s first and only dedicated trade event covering the entire value chain of the global leather industry. The Trend Area at the centre of the exhibition floor is a show highlight, where the most innovative leather products are displayed, from 100 per cent biodegradable camel hide, to leather clutches with built-in power packs that re-charge smart phones.
Many exhibitors are making their first bow on the regional stage, including Indian bag manufacturer Hidesign at the show’s Fashion Avenue. Hidesign is launching its eco-leather handbag range, made from vegetable tanned leather that uses seeds of Myrobalam trees and wattle tree bark.
“Since 1978, Hidesign has been crafting unique bags using a long legacy of traditional manufacturing processes,” said Adel Rashid, CEO of Hidesign Middle East. “Our leathers are vegetable tanned in company-owned tanneries using seeds and bark from local Indian forests.
“Our solid brass buckles are sand cast at our own buckle factory using fine local river sand. And our leathers are still hand cut. These manufacturing processes are all slow, but in an age of mass production they make for a truly unique product that age beautifully.”
Other big names in the Fashion Avenue are Smith and Canova from the UK, and Anna Bags from the USA. “Anna Bags are as exclusive as our customers,” said Jayne Orthwein, Founder and CEO of Anna Bags. “We offer a unique, high-quality, luxury product to a customer looking for the ‘find’ – the handbag that’s not ubiquitous, and offers a different choice from the big-name luxury brands.”
“Two new styles are being showcased at Leatherworld Middle East; a structured flap bag called the Sophia which is similar is shape to the Kelly Bag, but fresh with quilted, suede gussets and bottom. We are also launching a new, soft-body clutch made from lambskin with stripes that are top stitched in a vertical fashion that wrap the bag.”
Meanwhile, the Designers’ Area at Leatherworld Middle East is being headlined by Swiss designer Martina Wyss and British brand Kausar, which is introducing a range of handbags inspired by Islamic art.
“Our designs are inspired by Islamic art and geometry and the design aesthetics of our bags have strong origins in the Middle East,” said Kausar Bibi, Director of Kausar. “We plan to share our creations with the Middle East and African markets, and the geometric design, the colours, quality, and artwork on the inside of the bags makes our products a particularly unique and inspirational proposition.”
The Shoe Box wraps up the dedicated feature zones at Leatherworld Middle East, and includes big names such as British manufacturer of traditional welted footwear, Tricker; and Schuhsalon Marco from Germany, which is showcasing its ‘Marco Esclusive’ range of shoes that are developed exclusively for the Middle East.
Leatherworld Middle East features three country pavilions from France, Italy, and Pakistan, with other exhibitors coming from China, Germany, India, Spain, UK, USA, and the UAE.
The Middle East’s annual leather showpiece event is officially supported by Founding Sponsor Al Khaznah Tannery, Official Show Supporter ESMOD Dubai, and Supporting Associations, the French Federation of Tanners, the French Skins and Hides Syndicate, and the National Tanning Industry Union from Italy.