Micam Buyers Optimistic, But Looking for Deals

MILAN — Price was top of mind for many retailers shopping Micam here last week.

A number of buyers at the show, which wrapped up on Friday, said they were seeking to add fresh brands and styles that were both fashion-forward and smartly priced.

“We are working with an area of the market we’ve never worked with before,” said Marisa Shutt, women’s wear buyer for Flannels, one of the U.K.’s largest independent luxury retail groups.

On her hot list were labels such as Modern Vintage, Maloles and Pedro Garcia, which are considerably less expensive than the retailer’s core roster of designer labels. “We are looking for more shoes at lower prices,” she said, adding that the new strategy was in response to the recession.

Ron White, owner of Toronto-based Ron White, The Foot Shoppe, also said price has become a bigger factor for his shoppers. Product retailing for more than $500 is a tough sell right now, he said, and many consumers are demanding styles a notch lower. With that in mind, White was on the hunt for new looks to spice up his mix.

“I always see a different slant here — a different freshness — that I can take back,” the retailer said, noting that suede styles and over-the-knee boots were standout trends.

Not surprising, boots of all types dominated vendors’ offerings.

“There were no shoes to speak of,” said Lisa Gorlicki, a buyer and merchandiser for The Tannery in Boston, who came to the show with the store’s owners, Sam and Tarek Hassan. The group said they were seeking innovative styles in a bid to set themselves apart from other retailers.

Overall, buyers were noticeably more upbeat at this show compared with the last edition, said Fabio Aromatici, GM of ANCI, the Italian footwear manufacturers’ association. He added that the show also saw an increase in attendance from American department stores.

“The U.S. market has changed, so the good news is that there are more openings for our brands,” said Aromatici, who acknowledged that there are continued obstacles for Italian vendors.

American designers also had a major presence at the show.

Stuart Weitzman, pointing out that there were retailers from about a dozen different countries in his booth, said the global mood has brightened. “The biggest economies in Europe are growing again, and that encourages a good attitude,” he said.

Several U.S. vendors, including Modern Vintage and Calleen Cordero, were showing at Micam for the first time.

Cordero, who produces her collection in Los Angeles, said that in addition to opening new international accounts, she also met with a number of U.S. buyers who she wouldn’t have otherwise seen. “It’s been a great chance to tell my story,” she said. “I really think this is my year.”

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