Inaugurated in Castelfranco di Sotto, Italian region of Tuscany, the leather and fashion accessories collections displayed at the newly upgraded TFL Global Fashion Centre will be renewed every three to six months. Alongside the latest fashion collection available, currently Autumn/ Winter 2019-20, the showroom also displayed a visual impact with two other collections, namely "Evergreen" and "Fashion & Technology".
During the official inauguration on May 3, 2018, the centre welcomed over 180 guests, including senior managers from some of the biggest international tanning groups producing shoe upper and leather goods. TFL says the new centre aims to "become the global point of reference for shoe upper and leather goods, where TFL technicians as well as customers and brands can meet in order to preview the latest trends in leather fashion and the most innovative chemical technologies complying with all international restrictions and regulations".
During the event, an interesting panel of experts informed tanners about the fast-developing world of e-commerce and how a material such as leather can fit into online sales platforms. Guests were also presented with a fashion show featuring ladies' footwear and leather goods using leathers from TFL's latest fashion forecasts.
During the opening of Global Fashion Centre, TFL organised an interesting panel of experts to inform tanners about the fast-developing world of e-commerce and how a material such as leather can fit into online sales platforms.
Senior figures from some of the leading tanneries in the world listened to a panel made up of six panellists representing tech companies and consultancies as well as the mainstream media in Italy. "This is a difficult topic (e-commerce) for tanners to discuss," said Gianni Russo, President of the Italian Tanners Association (UNIC) in his welcome address. "Amazon's fashion and apparel share of the global market is increasing year-on-year in total sales. They are expected to double by 2020. E-commerce is a growing part of the business model and we, tanners, have to adapt to it," he added.
One of the panellists, Lars Feldscher, Head Manager, Astound Germany, Italy and Spain region, said that the major players in the tech world consisting of Apple, Google, Facebook, Alibaba and Amazon were looking beyond business to consumer markets and were now moving into business-to-business sales via e-commerce platforms. This means that they are moving forward with an online marketplace where any component or material can be sold via the web, including leather. "The best online business models are the ones where the consumer is at the centre," he said. Using Amazon as an example, Feldscher said that the consumer today expects a rapid and easy experience offered by online retailers such as Amazon or they may well be turned-off from buying online from a business if a website is not fast, efficient and easy to use.
One prominent global tanner told ILM after listening to the panel that the whole way in which tanners sell leather may soon change forever. Tanners may no longer rely on selling leather as a tactile, physical material but rather through a series of images and stories through an online marketplace.
Marta Casadei, Journalist for the Italian financial media, Il Sole 24 Ore, suggested that any business looking to sell in the e-commerce arena not only needs to have an attractive website with great products but needs to have easy payment and good customer service. "To be successful in e-commerce a business needs to have in place a simple, easy ordering and payment system in a range of major currencies. They must also have great customer care, VAT set-up for international transactions, customs documentation systems and shipping logistics," she explained.
Speaking specifically to the assembled tanners from Italy, who comprised the majority at the TFL panel event, Casadei said that uptake of e-commerce in Italy was quite slow by businesses compared with other countries, especially China and North America.
Magazine: International Leather Maker July/August 2018