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South African artisans of fine leather products look to make big impression at Leatherworld Middle East 2018

South African artisans of fine leather products look to make big impression at Leatherworld Middle East 2018

Sunday, February 18, 2018/ Editor -  

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International players lay claim to US$1.5 billion regional luxury leather goods market

Dubai, UAE February 18, 2018:   South African artisans of fine leather products will be under the spotlight at a Dubai exhibition this month, as they look to entice trade buyers and retailers with their latest offerings, from handbags, wallets, and travel accessories, to exotic belts, sandals, and even men’s ties.  

The 4th edition of Leatherworld Middle East takes place from 27 February – 1 March 2018 at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre, with more than 40 exhibitors from nine countries set to take part.

Exhibitors from Italy, Australia, Thailand, Pakistan, India, Lebanon, and the UAE will line-up alongside 15 South African companies at the Middle East’s premier showcase of end-user leather goods.  Here, all eyes will focus on an expanding regional marketplace that has a strong preference for high-quality, bespoke leather products.

According to analysts Euromonitor International (EMI), the retail value of the Middle East’s luxury leather goods market, including bags, travel goods, and men’s and women’s small leather items, was worth US$1.54 billion in 2017, compared to US$1.46 billion in 2016.

The UAE accounted for a third of the market in 2017 (US$501 million) according to EMI, an increase of 5.6 percent over 2016 (US$474 million).  Consumer spending in the Gulf country is also estimated to rise to US$586 million in 2020 by the time the Dubai Expo rolls around, while the Middle East market as a whole will be worth US$1.84 billion.

The steady growth is underlined by the strong international presence at Leatherworld Middle East 2018, including from South Africa, where many companies are returning having built up a solid customer network base from previous editions of the show.  

“Leatherworld Middle East has successfully brought together the regional leather industry under one roof over the past three years,” said Ahmed Pauwels, CEO of organiser Messe Frankfurt Middle East.  “It will arrive again in 2018 as the embodiment of luxury and exclusivity, providing retailers, boutiques, fashion buyers and other regional trade visitors the perfect platform to discover, experience and source the latest in wares, leather goods, accessories and more.”

Reptile Trading is returning for the second year in row in 2018, and will launch its new collection of exotic leather apparel comprising handbags, purses, wallets, belts and corporate wear.

Helen Simpson, Reptile Training’s Managing Director said: “Since the last edition of Leatherworld Middle East, we received private brand customers from the region to manufacturer their leather goods, while we also sold crocodile leather belts.   

“We have another pending enquiry for crocodile leather cell phone pouches and there’s generally been a lot of interest for our products here.  The Middle East is a fast growing region which is hungry for change and we produce top end quality leather apparel that appeals to this market,” added Simpson.

WEEF, another South African company, is a debut exhibitor at Leatherworld Middle East 2018, and will bring its handmade accessories including samples of leather suspenders, belts, and new skinny tie and bow tie options aimed at the ‘dapper gentleman movement.’

Dévan Swanepoel, Founder and Head of Production, at WEEF, said the Middle East’s growing economy is at the forefront of innovation, design, and fashion: “Middle East men are focusing more on their appearance and grooming, and WEEF has re-ignited the dapper gentleman movement from Cape Town, South Africa.  We believe you only need one piece of apparel to activate the true gentleman inside. 

“Furthermore, consumers are moving away from mass produced goods and supporting handmade, small batch goods made by individuals with passion.  We pride ourselves on offering sustainable handcrafted leather products for gentleman around the world.

Added Swanepoel: “Our leather is sourced locally and our products are carefully crafted to perfection using leather from sustainable and reputable suppliers. Each product is numbered and signed by the craftsman adding to its uniqueness. Leather is a medium that will never go out of style. It’s not just another purchase, it’s a timeless investment.”

Elsewhere, Aruvali is another debut South African exhibitor at Leatherworld Middle East 2018, and will introduce its handcrafted ostrich leather handbags, purses, and accessories.  Director Lo-Jeanne Muller said Aruvali also has the well-dressed gentleman in mind this year:  “We will launch the 2018 Sunset Collection at Leatherworld Middle East along with two new styles; Sydney, a modern cross body handbag; and Dallas, a refined cross body tote for gentlemen,” said Muller.

“We would like to expose the Middle East to our elegant yet chic handbags and accessories, bringing more value to high end boutiques and stores.  The leather goods market is an ever expanding business, whilst the African export of ostrich leather goods is becoming increasingly sought after by reason of the status and luxury that accompanies such items.”

Leatherworld Middle East is the region’s dedicated showcase of finished leather goods, from footwear, clothing, bags, wallets, and accessories, to premium corporate gifts, stationery, and household decorations.  The three-day event is an ideal networking platform for regional traders, private brand owners, retailers, boutiques, designers, and corporate gift promotions companies searching for all things leather-related.  

Leatherworld Middle East 2018 is supported by the South Africa Leather Export Council and the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan.  Returning for the 4th straight year is the show’s Founding Sponsor Al Khaznah Tannery, the UAE’s only tannery that produces biodegradable, metal-free camel leather goods including bags, shoes, and accessories. 

In a regular show highlight, year-two students from prestigious fashion institute ESMOD Dubai will line-up their latest stunning leather handbag creations, while for the first time, a two two-day seminar programme will also highlight the latest trends and developments in the regional leather design, creation, and retail industries. 

Leatherworld Middle East is co-located with Paperworld Middle East, the region’s dedicated trade fair for paper, office supplies, stationery, corporate gifts, and children’s toys and games.


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