Reflecting growing optimism in the global footwear market, top shoe players attending the Micam show in Milan this week were upbeat about their prospects in the months ahead.
“The signs are certainly positive. The world is changing and things are disruptive, but companies are adapting and finding new ways of doing business,” said Tommaso Cancellara, CEO of Micam and director of the Italian Footwear Association.
The executive noted that of the 1,396 companies exhibiting at the show, almost 800 were Italians, while about 600 came from the rest of the world. “We had a big presence from Spain, Portugal, Brazil, England and France,” he said. For Italian exporters, the U.S. and China continue to show growth, while Russia and Turkey are tougher sells right now.
A number of exhibitors at the show were looking to capitalize on buyers’ willingness to bet on new brands — another sign that the market is on the upswing.
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Dee Ocleppo Hilfiger, who launched her Dee Ocleppo men’s and women’s footwear collection earlier this year, visited Micam with her veteran-designer husband — who was the guest of honor at the event.
After first debuting the line on her website earlier this year, the Dee Ocleppo team is now ready to make a bigger statement. “We started with the site because we wanted to see how customers would react. The feedback was great, and there were a lot of return buyers.” said Matteo Armillotta, CEO of Dee Ocleppo. “People were buying multiple pairs, and knew we were on the right track.”
The executive planned to hold meetings with major retail groups from Germany and Brazil, and the brand is also considering a special collaboration with a major American department store.
At Falc SpA, general manager Salina Ferretti said the company — which operates Naturino, Voile Blanche and several other owned and licensed brands — said the company is seeing pockets of strength in diverse markets.
For example, Naturino, its main brand, is showing strength in the U.S., while other names, like Voila Blanche have a bigger following in Asia. “We’re very international, and [we play] in a lot of different markets. That’s why this is an important show for us,” she said, noting the strong presence of Northern European and Asian buyers.
The executive is also beginning to notice a shift in trends, back toward a more dressed-up look. “[Slowly, but surely, we’re seeing a new interest in elegance,” Ferretti said. “The consumer is looking for something fresh and it’s keeping us on our toes. Footwear is a complicated market, but it’s fun.”