They have been talking about it for months, at this point. The question is: how much does the overwhelming power of sneakers affect the present and the future of the leather for soles niche business? It is not easy to work it out. Cuoio di Toscana, a leading consortium specialized in manufacturing leather for footwear soles (they own 80% of the market shares in Europe and 98% in Italy), have provided a valuable answer, in terms of quality and creativity. They spotlighted the issue during the latest edition of Lineapelle, held in Milan last month, on September 25-27. Someone argues that “the last generation shoe has leather sole: either a court shoe for women, or a lace-up shoe for men or a sneaker”. Looks like a provocation, but that’s the way it could be. Such point of view is backed up by Orietta Pelizzari, a cool hunter specialized in the international market trends. “For men, the must-have model is still a lace-up shoe, either Derby or Francesina or Oxford, which is able to evoke a timeless elegance – points out Cuoio di Toscana in a press release –. On top of that, there we go with some trendy sneakers, with soles variously shaped, with fluo details or in smooth leather, made of bi-materials for a more casual and sporty style; in addition to these models, we also have shoes for women with kitten heels, seven centimetres high at most, as an alternative option to medium and high heels, though wide, squared and very comfortable. How about sole? It’s going to be in leather for all models”. Soles look now “painted, floral, zebra-striped, python-striped, tone on tone or adorned with arabesques. On the soles of lace-up shoes for men you can see the icons of art and pop music, made through digital painting”. There are several new opportunities, then, remarks Antonio Quirici, president of Cuoio di Toscana: “Leather is progressively gaining new frontiers, thanks to lab research, which makes soles light and flexible, therefore suitable and fitting for our daily life: comfort and casual are the key words”.