Despite current global tensions resulting from the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, the desire and need for direct touch with people remains strong and evident. This is especially true when it comes to business relationships at events like the recently concluded ILM, the German leather products expo in Offenbach, which took place from March 5 to 7, 2022.

“These days, face-to-face conversations are more crucial than ever” says Arnd Hinrich Kappe, CEO of Messe Offenbach. The presence of German and international visitors, as well as new orders for the autumn/winter of 2022-23, reinforced the sector's rebound momentum.

"It is still necessary to be able to touch items with your hands, to physically see models and colours in order to make the best possible decision on where to go. It's a completely different experience than ordering online," explains Sybille Kienzlen of Rottenburg's Leather Goods Reudanik.

The desire for useful bags and suitcases, which has resurrected both leisure and business travel, as well as inventive and technologically advanced items, is one of the emerging trends. A combination of elegant models in brilliant colours that are handcrafted, and sports bags made of soft and padded materials make up the majority of the collection. Sustainability is still a major topic, and it's at the forefront of the minds of businesses that are increasingly turning to recycled materials and low-energy production procedures.

The focus is definitely on products and services that aim to satisfy as many demands as possible of consumers who, as Dave de Boer (Coccinella, Valentino, Guess, Maison Heroine, Lancaster, Mandarina Duck) describes it, "are looking for something new and they feel an immediate urgency."

After hearing the exhibitors' views at the end of the show, it became clear that ILM is still an essential point of reference for the industry, and that it has enabled new business deals to be signed even during this edition. On the other hand, even this fair, which began with a thousand dreams, had to face reality. The attendance was smaller than planned, however Mara Visonà pointed out that "the positive thing is that the visitors there had clear ideas and aimed to acquire."

To face current and future problems, the leather goods business requires a dynamic push, support, and stimulus. ILM aspires to set an example, and is already planning the next edition, which will take place from September 3 to 5, 2022.