The AICC Toscana Convention brought to light a highly topical issue, that of technical specifications imposed on tanning by the big names: legally binding documents which often contain restrictions greater than those of current regulations and at times also absurd requests

Representatives of luxury brands, tanners and producers of auxiliary chemicals met in San Miniato on 30 May last for during the AICC Toscana Convention entitled: “Capitolati tecnici del pellame – esigenze dei produttore ed utilizzatore a confronto” (technical specifications of skins – comparing exigencies of producers and users).

IMG_1598It was an important opportunity to exchange ideas and reflect on such an extremely complicated question as that of the aforesaid technical specifications of hides which the big names in fashion impose on tanners to ensure standards as regards the possible presence of toxic substances in the leathers.

The convention was introduced by Franca Nuti, vice president of the AICC who asked for maximum collaboration from everyone, because the increasingly complex and exigent specifications of leathers are becoming a great problem for both tanners and chemicals producers. «The market has changed over the years and now 70-80% of hides tanned in Tuscany actually go to the big brands» – added newly re-elected president of Assoconciatori, Franco Donati, when opening the convention, therefore giving an idea of the importance of the issue.

The designers’ point of view was offered by Simone Nucci, quality assurance manager of Bulgari Accessori, which covers an annual production of about 60,000 deluxe bags and 500,000 items of leather goods, all made of Italian leathers, whose leading markets are Japan and China, particularly strict as regards standards. «The specifications – said Nucci – serve to guarantee fashion firms innovation, quality and rapid production». But Bulgari is an exception which has done things the right way: it turned to the Po.Te.Co. technological centre to process its specifications document, so that now this represents a reference model.

The speakers who took part explained, citing numerous examples, that the specifications (“capitolati”) issued by fashion houses are increasingly long and complex, sometimes of up to 90/100 pages, and often include rather that current regulations limits that are more restricting or even impossible for existing methods of analysis to reveal.

«In the “capitolati” we find inaccuracies, contradictions and errors impossible to handle. There is great confusion and at times tanners pass the problem on directly to suppliers of chemical products» – explained Raoul Sartori of the R&S departmemt of Samia, which is part of the ad hoc Technical Commission created by Unpac.

Furthermore, the disproportionate contractual capacity between the tannery and great fashion house makes negotiations between client and supplier difficult. But one must not take risks: «I advise colleagues to be very careful as to the commitments they sign» – warned Piero Rosati of the Incas tanning group. Some “capitolati” are often adaptions of those used by the fashion house for textiles and this explains some “eccentricities” such as the famous request for zero pH which at the time made the whole sector laugh. It was recalled by Gianluigi Calvanese the president of AICC, as well as scientific director of the “Stazione Sperimentale Pelli” of Naples, who made an excursus  into current laws and explained that methods of analysis are constantly updated according to innovations introduced in leathers and chemical products. The “laboratory variable” is another great problem due to lack of uniform analytical processes used by each centre, as revealed by Domenico Castiello of Po.Te.Co. in his speech.

Then another delicate issue has recently emerged: «Specifications on ethical questions are now arising, involving audits and talks with employees in firms» – pointed out Michela Donati of Consorzio D&Co.

After having dissected the issue in all its aspects, speakers at the convention organized by Tuscan chemists also launched some suggestions. «It is absolutely necessary for the parties involved to compile a “single specification list” – said, among others, tanner Piero Rosati – a basic document that everyone can use, leaving any particular requests to be discussed and negotiated privately».