Cuir a Paris brings Paris back centre stage
Cuir a Paris is on for the 25th time this week. I have to admit that there have been so much changes in shows in Paris since I began in the leather industry that I assuming that means twelve and a half years with the show twice a year.
Whichever it is we have reached Wednesday evening and I’m in a bistro in Chatelet-Les-Halles near the Pompidou centre reminiscing over the days when I’d just escaped the civil war in El Salvador and brought my young children here as Barrow Hepburn made moves to take over management of Le Tanneur, the famous French leathergoods business, and Tannerie du Puy and La Tannerie de Bort les Orgues. Sadly as the formation of the French TFR group became very political and Dick Odey more controversial Barrow Hepburn got squeezed out and our time in Paris came to an abrupt end. But we spent many happy times with our baby buggy and child sling around Pompidou and the surrounding area.
Paris today is a different place and the leather industry also. Tanners can still do well but the business has an edge with high raw prices and tight margins. Wasteful expense cannot be entertained and exhibitors are more likely to be living quietly in a low cost airport hotel than fighting the RER to get downtown to the fancy restaurants and nightclubs that marked the seventies and the Porte de Versailles. Even in the 80s when I moved into marketing the fair in Paris was considered such a big PR moment that coming to Paris cost far more than the other twenty fairs I took my company to put together. Commercially it made no sense, but historically and emotionally tanners were wedded to Paris.
Yet as the new show became established, alongside Premier Vision and other really significant events at the Parc des Expositions, it became apparent that there was some vision and inspiration involved. Bringing a select few top tanners to Paris to meet the Paris based fashion houses and brands was just the positioning needed to find a relevant niche in the crowded market place of leather shows. And so it has proven as we can see with Fair moving to a bigger hall, growing in size and reworking its logo and image.
With its outstanding trend area, clever innovation spot and well worked out stand styles the show links well with the development of the industry and its creative side. There are many reasons for designers to visit and why tanners from far and wide like to have an “office in Paris” for a week.
The fair so far has been quite busy, but more important is the satisfaction with the quality of the visitors. Even a Government Minister turned up and took notice of a French industry which is still diverse and yet cohesive, with enough critical mass to make sense.
They call trade fairs editions these days. Well, this edition was well edited.