The comeback of leatherWe asked Luca Boltri, deputy director of UNIC, what he thinks of the leather sector’s renewed effort for a communication that is closer to the final customer
Soon, the international campaign by Leather Naturally, for the promotion of leather, will begin, while in July there will be a World Leather congress aimed at young people. Both events are supported by UNIC. All this makes one think – let us borrow football metaphors – that the counterattack of leather has begun. It is not enough to defend oneself; it is time to attack.
We are witnessing a positive attempt to increase the specific weight of the sector – as pointed out by Luca Boltri, deputy director of UNIC, the most important tanners’ association in the world – in order to have a bigger impact on terms of communication. I can see that many steps forward are being taken in regard to the coordination between institutions, such as, for example, ICT and COTANCE, for a better and more compact defence of Leather.
It is quite a change of paradigm to want to focus on the final consumer.
“As UNIC we have been wanting to break away from the common ground, and indeed we are doing that, avoiding talking on top of each other and trying to be more informative than formative. Finally, the entire sector wants to go beyond B2B and insist on the virtues and quality of leather. If for a long time it was believed that it was enough to communicate with one’s own direct customers, now we have realized that not having a strong voice that speaks of the excellence of leather leaves room to those who are against us and who, cunningly, spreads negative, false information that is accessible to everyone. It is time to balance the news that reach the consumer. It is lucky that at this moment in history everyone is talking about the environmental issue and Leather is par excellence a sustainable material, since it has been recycling a waste material of the food industry for centuries. This must be known”.
What is the exact message to be sent across?
“The sector has always responded in a very technical manner to the various attacks that we have received; attacks that have always aimed at the belly and sensations of people, and that have fueled a negative, unfounded perception. Especially nowadays, because the tanning sector is a modern industry, a real model of reduction of water, energy and chemical waste and that has been working for years for the recovery of production waste (fleshings and hair, for example).
The real challenge is to identify the right language to send across these messages. As UNIC, we took on this challenge a couple of years ago, when we reset our usual report on sustainability – which, in the past, was very technical – relying on 10 slogans that can be understood by everyone.
Hence, a few clear concepts that are immediately understood, especially by young people”.
To aim at young people is also quite a challenge, right?
“A necessary challenge for a cultural change to take place. We very much believe in it; indeed, during the world congress in New York (where there is an extremely high number of fashion schools), we will very much aim at detecting the interest of young designers.
Lineapelle has given the students of the Parsons School of Design NY some hides with which to make artifacts that will be displayed and win an award during the congress. We must make them aware that leather is a natural material with an invaluable historical importance, but also a material that remains young, innovative, with unique and versatile characteristics”.
Therefore, all-round communication is in the forefront…
“Yes, although it is still essential to also steer a straight course in more technical contexts, such as the fight against counterfeiting and the fight to get reapproved the changes to the 1966 Law 1112, which regulates the use of the words «hide», «leather» e «fur», and defeat once and for all the far-west of communication, which does not allow a clear and transparent relationship with the consumer.
To keep working with fashion, furniture and automotive customers and to convince them every time that the leather sector operates legally, is sustainable and can be traced”.