29-31 March 2017 the 33rd edition of the leather and materials trade show APLF took place in Hong Kong. Total Shoe Concept was visiting and we would like to share our experiences with you. APLF was rebranded from MM&T (Materials, Manufacturing & Technology) to Leather & Materials +. The name was changed to cater for the sports casual trend that is taking over the footwear industry.

The ground floor hosted all leather and leather machinery suppliers and the Materials+ floor focused on components and innovative materials. The materials+ hall was completely white. Perrine Ardouin (Director of APLF) said in the press conference “this white color symbolises innovation which corresponds to the scope of the fair and is a visual representation of APLF’s motto: Experiencing the future.” This is also one of the reasons that Atom Lab was invited into this hall. We had a look at their stand and looked at some of the robots they are developing to take over some non-value adding tasks in a shoe factory. Their research and development is amazing, have a look at their website if you want to know more about them; ATOM LAB

There were over 800 exhibitors from 46 countries and regions at APLF 2017 and the organisers expected over 16,000+ international and local buyers to visit the fair.

APLF hosted several seminars and conferences to promote design, innovation and sustainability within the leather and fashion industries. Below you find a few of many.

  • Design challenges in a changing world – by David Shah (publisher and CEO, Metropolitan Publishing BV, Netherlands)
  • Athleisure Trend – Embracing healthy living and well-being – by Charlotte Delobelle (Carlin Creative Trend Bureau )
  • How to demonstrate progress towards sustainability as a part of “Moving Toward Sustainability” (launched by APLF and supported by CTC )
  • Global footwear retail conference (a 3 hour conference that we attended, more insights about this follow soon in our blog)
  • Sustainability in the leather supply chain (a 5 hour conference hosted by BLC)
  • New developments in knitting for the footwear industry, especially for uppers (Jane singer from Inside Fashion, Hong Kong)
  • Supporting product development from Concept to consumer by Christine Powley-Williams (Satra)

We had no time to visit all the seminars as it wouldn’t have left any time to walk the fair but the variety of seminars did give an additional value to visitors and exhibitors of the fair. Visitors can buy and source new materials but can also choose to be educated about different subjects on offer.

Most of the suppliers we visited said the exhibition was very successful for them and they concluded the same or even more business than last years’ edition. APLF director Michael Duck also mentioned “we believe that we have now witnessed what could be a turning point in the demand for shoe leather”.

Magazines, Schools and other footwear/leather related companies were exhibiting just outside the ‘normal’ halls. One of these companies is leatherNaturally! which we would like to highlight. They launched their new website on the first day of the exhibiton. Their mission is to promote the use of globally manufactured sustainable leather and they seek to inspire and inform designers, creators and consumers about the beauty, quality and versatility of leather. We think their mission is very important, as there are so many misconceptions in the news about leather… have a look at their website, learn and find out more. LeatherNaturally!

We would like to finalise with a selection of pictures we took at the exhibition:






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