The Micam Wrap: NeroGiardini Eyes the U.S. + Thierry Rabotin’s Big Milestone and More

The bi-annual Micam show in Milan wrapped today and while political tensions, Brexit and a challenging Italian economy were hot topics that didn’t stop retailers and vendors on the show floor from forging ahead.

Here are some key highlights from the Micam show. To see our interview with Siro Badon, Micam’s new president, click here.

Project America

While Italy has always been a huge exporter to the U.S., some companies at the show were renewing their focus on the market or making plans to enter it for the first time. For example, NeroGiardini, a well-established player in Italy — with nearly $200 million in annual sales — now has its sights set on the U.S. “The economy is good in America, and the unemployment is [very low],” said owner Enrico Bracalente. “We thought it would be a very good time to approach the market. We keep investing in technical know-how. We’re made in Italy, and that sets us apart, but we also have a very competitive price.” The company is capitalizing on some key trends in the market with a growing sneaker business and a fashion comfort-sandal line, along with classics like pumps in a variety of heel heights. It also offers a range of styles for kids and the juniors’ market.

On the Rise

Several emerging designers at the show were pondering their U.S. strategies amid significant challenges in the department store sector. A number of them were still hoping that Barneys New York could make a comeback after bankruptcy. (The retailer is on the hunt to find a buyer before time runs out.)

Catarina Pedroso, owner of Portugal-based vegan brand Ballūta, is targeting America at a time when sustainability is one of the dominant conversations. Pedroso said she intended to build a collection that was both high-end and vegan, and she wanted consumers to buy the shoes for the fashion. “I couldn’t find vegan or sustainable shoes that I really liked or was  passionate about. They were either really classic or a bit boring,” Pedroso said, noting that she and her husband worked on a sustainable-driven plan for two years before they launched their brand.

Frédéric Robert, founder of Paris-based dual-gender brand Me.Land, said Micam helped him understand the power of influencers. The show paired each of the 12 emerging designers with a different influencer to help build buzz. Going forward, Robert said he wants to find French influencers in diverse areas of the country, not just Paris, to work with the brand. “It has to feel natural,” he said.

Athletic Heat

One of the hottest spots on the show floor was a new athletic-driven section called Players District. It featured a number of athletic brands, including Skechers, Lotto, Bjorn Borg and Kangaroos. According to Badon, the sport segment is a major focus going forward, thanks in large part to the fact it has been a sales driver in Italy during a challenging time for the industry.

Thierry Rabotin
Designer Thierry Rabotin died in 2017, but his company — which is celebrating 20 years — continues to thrive.
CREDIT: Courtesy of brand

Major Milestone

Thierry Rabotin marked a big anniversary during Micam and celebrated two decades in the business. The late founder of the namesake company decided to launch the company with footwear friend Giovanna Ceolini after they struck up a bond during trips to a shoe factory in the Parabiago region of Italy. They later joined forces with Karl Schlecht. Ceolini and Schlecht — along with their sons — continue to run the company today, while designer Massimo Balbini, who worked alongside Rabotin, is carrying on his artistic vision. “I have been here since the beginning, and it’s been incredible. To me, I’m working with family. I am incredibly lucky.” 

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