Ken and I spent two days scouring the fair, looking at the Autumn Winter 2018 forecasts for everything leather, cowhide, sheepskin and fur !
For us leather fanatics it's a very interesting few days, as well as seeing all the new formulations, colours and finishes, we also get to catch up with the tannery reps, bosses and technicians, most of whom we have known for years.
One such man being Alex a fourth generation shearling tannery boss, both his grandfathers ran tanneries, one in Germany, one in Spain, and as is very often the case with powerful "dynasties" matched and married their eldest children - Alex's parents.
Now running a Spanish tannery, Alex is about my age, an educated man learned in five languages selling skins all over the world to most of the leading fashion houses (including Owen Barry 😀) .
It was great to catch up on all the gossip, plus reminisce about many of the old characters (dead & alive) from our industry.
We did that for a little while, but very soon the conversation got back to our real passion - skins, their qualities, the origins, the finishes, wool lengths and colours.
Now at this point there is always a great deal of stroking, pinching, sniffing, rubbing and blowing !!! - stop it, I don't know Alex THAT well, these actions are all trade marks of a person discerning the nuances of a skin, deciphering everything they need to know, the breed & origins of the animal and the standard & method of the processing.
I love it, it is just like an Agatha Christie murder mystery - so many little clues :- the size, shape, weight, wool characteristics, the rib profile, tiny hairs in the wool, the regularity and type of defect on the pelt, all of these things, when evaluated together give away the answer you're looking for.
Yes I know I could just ask, or possibly just read the label, but where's the fun or challenge in that.
Alex is one of the highest regarded so his guidance on "bestsellers" is always very worthwhile, especially when you get the inside scoop on what the famous designers have commissioned !! Be assured, I'm not backward in coming forward when charming those little gems of info out !
As demonstrated in Vogue last month http://www.vogue.co.uk/gallery/best-shearling-jackets, shearling jackets are a must have, it's just deciding which style and stunning colour that will be the difficult bit.
Here are a just a few of the great colours and finishes we had to choose from - which one would you choose?