Sunday, April 24, 2011

Where is Orange?

 Walking into the trend area of Linea Pelle, the major leather goods show in Bologna, Italy is like seeing parts of a rainbow spread across the tops of dozens of tables.  Pieces of leather in an extraordinary array of textures and colors are arranged to catch the eye of designers, product developers from around the world.

During the three days of the show almost 6,000 people will view this leather rainbow, note the trends, and then decide what color and textures we’ll see in shoes, handbags, accessories in our stores more than a year from now.  (What we see in Bologna in April 2011 will appear in products in the fall of 2012.)  Attendees shop the booths of nearly 1,000 exhibitors for the leathers, zippers, soles, and embellishments that will decorate handbags, shoes and furniture in the years to come. According to a Florence based consultant who manages footwear production (In Italy and Brazil) for a major American brand,  Linea Pelle has become a must to attend for everyone in the business.

A quick glance around the room revealed an array of colors - corals and reds, greens, beige and white.   There was black and bright blue, even a bit of yellow.  But where was the orange?  I walked the entire space looking for the hot color of 2011 – Orange.  Not there.  Orange nice and bright the color of fruit is THE fashion color at the moment. It has been so popular with the designers that the Wall St Journal even did an article, “Orange Crush” about the importance of this single bright color for spring and summer 2011.

But amidst the hundreds of samples displayed, guiding the creative ideas of thousands of people there was only one small sample in orange mixed with dozens of reds, rose and corals.  A hot color for 2011, invisible in 2012. 

It’s a fascinating experience to walk a show like this.  To see leather cut into tiny strips and woven together into fabric for shoes, pillows or handbags. (We saw samples woven in India, finished in Italy).  To see leather smooth and supple, printed to resemble snake or crocodile, or cut in intricate patterns by lasers.  The variety of textures and colors seem endless. Showroom after showroom filled with rainbows of pieces that catch your eye and stimulate your imagination.  What will someone do with that you wonder as you look at a piece printed with a grey/white/black camouflage pattern (the style is named Vietnam) or a plastic seeming sample that has a page of newspaper embedded in it (Can we make you a handbag with the newspaper of the day you were born?).

Attending this show was a special privilege. It was exciting. Overwhelming.  Inspiring.   But as I left I was still wondering – where was orange, why did it vanish? 

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