FRENCH LEATHER IN LA
French Tanneries Make Their West Coast Debut at the CMC
The California Market Center played host to a small coterie of French tanneries when six companies showcased their upscale leathers for apparel, accessories and home décor July 13–14 in a suite on the CMC’s eighth floor.
Organized by the Fédération Française de la Tannierie Mégisserie (or French Tanners Association), many in the group were exhibiting in Los Angeles prior to showing in New York at the Première Vision New York and Lineapelle trade shows. The companies—many family owned and dating back to the 19th and early-20th centuries—participated in the exhibition to gauge interest from the West Coast market, said Sophie Hivert, the association’s director general.
Cuirs Du Futur was showing stretch leathers made using a process it invented in 1991 to bond Spanish lambskin with stretch cotton. The leathers have a comfortable interior side and 30 percent stretch.
Laurent Bove, commercial manager for Cuirs Du Futur, said he was interested “to see what is possible to do in the West Coast.”
Cuirs Du Futur has 70 employees working in a vertical facility in Graulhet, France. The company works with European luxury brands and U.S. brands.
Tanneries Haas is located in the Alsace section of France near the German border. The Tannery was established in 1842 and is currently run by the sixth generation of the family-owned company.
“We use only French calf,” said Jacques Kress, Haas export manager. “In France we eat veal, so we have the raw material.”
Most of Haas leathers—80 percent—are used for handbags, with 15 percent used for shoes and 5 percent used for saddlery. The company works primarily with French and Italian brands but does have one U.S. customer—a footwear company in the Midwest.
Remy Carriat was established in 1927 and is today run by the granddaughter of the company founder. The tannery produces young bull and water buffalo leather for a variety of applications—except apparel.
“At the beginning we did leather for shoes,” said Aurélie Estrade, who handles commercial export for the company.
The company then expanded to making leather for the furniture market and, later, accessories. The tannery also produces leather for horse saddles.
HCP is a large international company with tanneries in France, Italy and the United States. Arnaud Grumbach, the director of the company’s New York office, brought exotic leathers from the company’s tannery in Louisiana to show in Los Angeles.
“We do 100 percent American-made product,” Grumbach said. The crocodiles are sourced in Louisiana and finished in the company’s facility in the state. HCP leathers are used for handbags, shoes, garments and accessories. The parent company was founded in 1923, and the Louisiana tannery has been in operation for 20 years.
“We do a lot of business around the world,” he said. “We work with the biggest names in fashion.”
Grumbach said HCP was exhibiting with the other tanneries as a show of solidarity with the French Tanners Association.
“It’s very important to support each other,” he said. “We have to be together.”
Alran SAS specializes in calf and goat leather and vegetable tanning.
The tannery’s hand processing and adherence to strict sustainability standards is attractive to top-range brands, said Alran President Jérôme Verdier. For example, the company’s boarding process to soften the leather is done by hand. The company is also in compliance with the EU REACH standards for leather processing.
“REACH regulation is extremely strict,” Verdier said.
That should be attractive to companies in California, where environmental regulations are also strict, he noted.
Raynaud Jeune was founded in 1921 and specializes in lambskin with vegetable tanning. The company’s primary market is Eastern Europe, but it is hoping to broaden its business with the introduction of new products.
“The core of the business is leather for insoles, [but] I’m developing leather for garments,” said company manager Olivier Raynaud.
“I used to work with [apparel companies]—including on the West Coast. Now I’m coming back to the apparel leather business.