Although Italian shoes are at the very heart of Micam, the contribution of foreign product should not be underestimated. Out of the 1,600 companies exhibiting at Milan Rho Expo Centre Sept 16-19, a total of 600 overseas labels — including Belle by Sigerson Morrison and Rafe New York from the U.S. and Maloles from France — will participate.
According to Fabio Aromatici, GM of ANCI, the Italian footwear industry organization and show organizer, North Africa is Micam’s most interesting new entrant, with first-timers showing from Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia. On the buyer front, retailers from the growing Middle East and Gulf areas still have hefty buying budgets, according to Aromatici.
In contrast, the U.S. is one of the most mature markets for Italian shoes. Currently producers from Italy are working hard to drum up business in the States, with ANCI reaching out to consumers through its“Stepping Out in Italian Shoes” competition. Aromatici said he believes this initiative and other promotions could result in a slight uptick in the number of visitors from the U.S.
FN: How is retail performing in Italy?
FA: The Italian market has slowed down a bit, but it’s nothing compared to what’s happened in the U.S. I guess the answer is very complicated, but as consumers, Italians have a deeper relation to shoes compared with the U.S. Just by walking the streets of Florence, Venice, Milan and Rome, the care Italians put into choosing their attire is evident, and shoes are a huge part of it.
FN: Are brands and buyers more motivated to attend trade shows in tricky times such as these?
FA: Absolutely. [They] are more determined than ever. Companies are working very hard promoting their collections. With buyers, it is fundamental to understand what can be sold given the conditions of the economy.
FN: What is Micam doing to help retailers and brands through this difficult economic period?
FA: We offer them the largest and most relevant footwear exhibition in the world. It’s a one-stop shop. These days, saving time and energy is fundamental.
FN: Do you think the show’s timing — the week before Milan Fashion Week — will affect attendance?
FA: Milan Fashion Week is a major event, so we think it’s better not to overlap with it, but still stay close to it. To find the perfect date for Micam is a never-ending task and there is no optimal solution.
FN: What qualities do retailers and brands need to survive right now?
FA: [For brands], research and development is key, while retailers need to offer a good shopping experience. People are buying less, but because of that, they want to enjoy the shopping process and are very, very selective.
Micam regulars reveal must-buys, favorite Milan shopping locales and who they expect to see.
Sandro Borelli, Browns, Quebec City
Why you go: “When times are hard, you must find newness and excitement for your clientele, so she has a reason to buy a new pair of footwear.”
Years attended: 17
Shopping list: Private-label and brands such as Stuart Weitzman, Palmroth, Miss Sixty, Cesare Paccioti, Skechers
Best Milan window-shopping: Via della Spiga, Corso Como, Via Torino, Vittorio Emmanuel, Via Manzoni
Edna Galo, Galo Shoes, Manhattan
Why you go: “It is more important to attend than ever because we must support the Italian suppliers.”
Years attended: 30
Looking for: Casuals, flats, ballerinas and sandals
Best Milan window-shopping: Via Montenapoleone, Via della Spiga, Via S’Andrea
Faye Markowitz, Davids Footwear/Markio designs, Toronto
Why you go: “I buy many brands, plus I visit showrooms in the city who don’t exhibit at the show, such as Giuseppe Zanotti, Sergio Rossi, René Caovilla and Rupert Sanderson.”
Years attended: 30
Looking for: Closed-up footwear that works as transitional selling.
Antony Nathan, Feud, London
Why you go: “[Micam] is still the best show for high-end and designer footwear, and if you don’t go to the show, then you have to try and see everyone individually, which is definitely more difficult, time consuming and expensive.”
Years Attended: 9
Retail appointments: Stoneridge, Canada; Barneys, U.S.; Canopy, Israel; Shoe Bar, Japan; and Zalondo, Germany
Hanelle Palmroth, Pertti Palmroth, Tampere, Finland
Why you go: “Just watching people [around Milan] gives you the best inspiration. You immediately notice [the trends] in young and adult fashion.”
Years attended: 40
Best Milan window-shopping: Via della Spiga
Retail appointments: Galo, New York; Holt Renfrew, Canada
A number of British designers plan to launch at Micam this season, including Velvet Bee, Laura Jane London and Heather Blake, who has high hopes for the Micam debut of the collection she unveiled in London last season.
“It’s an exciting opportunity to exhibit at a trade fair that focuses purely on footwear, and I hope to meet buyers from Europe and introduce the brand to a wider international market,” Blake said.
Six London (whose other shoe brands include Opening Ceremony, Swear and B Store) will debut footwear from Ksubi, a unisex Australian denim brand, at the show.
“Micam continues to be the main, international footwear hub for labels and buyers alike,” said Six London CEO Jose Neves, who added that he expects to meet with major department store players, including Isetan, Barneys and Kurt Geiger.