Micam Vendors Get Schooled on Asian Market

SHANGHAI — Chinese retailers shopping the second edition of The Micam, which wrapped on Oct. 13, said they are eager to add more international brands.

“It takes some time for both sides to get used to each other, but I am sure more and more Chinese consumers are going to buy shoes from places like Italy, Spain and Portugal,” said Sandy Fu, a local buyer for J.H. Williams, a Shanghai menswear store.

Fu’s shop sells men’s shoes priced between 3,000 and 5,000 yuan (or $490 to $816 at current exchange). He is already in business with two exhibitors from Italy, and following the second edition of the show, is looking to add a Portuguese supplier to his brand roster.

Though traditionally known to be strong in consumer electronics, JD.com is now pushing into the fashion and footwear sphere. “We are building up our international brand portfolio. This is why I am here. E-commerce is a safe first step for brands to try out, a way to get data and get to know the market here,” said Claudia Xu, senior business development manager for the site.

Fabio Aromatici, GM of Micam and ANCI, the Italian footwear manufacturers association, is adamant that despite a slowdown in its economy, China remains attractive. But it’s a complex process, he acknowledged.

“It would be very unfair and stupid on our part to guarantee to companies that they can just come here and be successful, but I don’t see any other place in the world where you can find success on the same scale as is possible in China,” he said. “These brands don’t have the recognition of the Guccis or Ferragamos, but we feel we are not far away.”

Exhibitors attending the show said they garnered more insight into the market, where 3.7 million pairs of Italian-made shoes were sold last year, according to ANCI.

Lara Vallasciani, the director of financial planning and business development for Elisabet Calzaturificio — which was exhibiting its own label, as well as licensed brands such as Andrea Morelli, Roberto Cavalli and Liu Jo — said more serious buyers were on the guest list at the show this time around. “It’s quite different. The organization is better. Also, we’ve noted the quality of the visitor this time is a little bit higher,” she said.

Still, Vallasciani said the main benefit of attending wasn’t to receive orders. “When we are coming here, we aren’t expecting a lot of business. We are here to learn about the Chinese market and understand what the customers want,” she explained.

Italian brands constituted two-thirds of the 260 exhibitors at The Micam Shanghai, which was held in conjunction with Shanghai Fashion Week. Other countries represented were Brazil, Spain, Portugal, Turkey, France, England, Switzerland, Austria and China.