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    As the 30th edition of the India International Leather Fair opens this weekend, participants talk trends and business

    IF you have a soft spot for leather, this weekend is your chance to get up to speed on trends and meet the tsars of the industry. Be it newer players like Sathya Narayanan from the young footwear brand Kethini to veterans like Sateesh Jadhav from Gaitonde and the ever-fashionable Gopalakrishna Bachi, who is behind brand Language, everyone is going to be out in full force to promote Chennai as Destination Leather. After all, with the international market shifting focus from China back to India in this sector, there is much to celebrate at the 30th edition of the India International Leather Fair. Besides, our exporters-turned-retailers are upping the ante when it comes to branding and expansion.
    Hide specialists
    1Bachi, who is still the country’s largest exporter for kids footwear, has big plans for brand Language – menswear being the mainstay of domestic retail. Having maintained that Language is a ‘‘learning lab’’ of sorts, he is retailing his shoes at at least 50 Metro stores, besides online platforms like Myntra and Flipkart. Like his colleagues, he is aware that a huge market awaits in Punjab, especially in Ludhiana and Chandigarh. Besides his delectable shoes for men, Bachi is back with a casual line for women, which includes driving shoes. But for young parents, especially expats, Language continues to be the one-stop shop for non-toxic and comfortable kids footwear from brands like the German Elefanten and Stones & Bones from Belgium. This will be showcased at the Leather Fashion Show this Sunday, that will see nine participants.
    Meanwhile, Kethini’s Narayanan, who plans to launch an e-commerce site in March, has a contemporary line of rugged shoes for men that will be displayed at the show, together with sky-high pointy-toed pumps and stilettos for women, with laser cut-outs. As for Calonge, the shoe and handbag brand known for vibrant colours and the signature octoweave, they will also be at the show. Vimalan Velayudham’s bags and shoes will be complemented by Vivek Karunakaran’s clothes.
    IILF, from February 1 to 3, is at Chennai Trade Centre. The fashion show is on February 1 at Taj Coromandel. By invitation only. Details: iilfleatherfair.com

    The insider
    If you intend to be ahead of the fashion tribe, know that leather right now is all about shadow effect, matte and metal finish and velvet prints. Look out for oily brush-off leather, while embossing, perforation and 3D details are big. Bag bugs (to be clipped on bags, as seen at fashion house, Fendi) are popular. Shoes in exotic skins like ostrich, eel, deerskin and more are yours at Language and at Gaitonde’s bespoke outfit on Khader Nawaz Khan Road. As for skinny leather pants, they never went away.
    —Team Indulge

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