By  on October 4, 2010

MILAN — After almost two years of decline, Italy’s leather goods and accessories sector appears positioned to begin bouncing back.

The favorable indicators include stores that are rebuilding inventories amid growing international demand, said industry executives attending Mipel, the four-day leather goods and accessories show here that ended on Sept. 22.

“Signs of improved sentiment are stronger now than they were in March,” when the previous edition of the show was held, said Lorenzo Braccialini, sales manager of Braccialini. “For example, Russian visitors...placed larger orders in September.”

Italy’s leather goods and accessories industry regained strength in the first half of this year. Production rose three percent, consumption increased 9.5 percent and there was a 15 percent gain in the value of exports, according to statistics compiled by AIMPES, the industry association that organizes Mipel.

The trade show drew 16,200 visitors, flat compared with the March edition, but a 13.6 percent boost versus the same period last year, organizers said. About half of those attending came from abroad. Exhibitors said buying interest from China and Korea was significantly improved compared with last year, and orders from the U.S. over the same period were slowly picking up, helped by a weaker euro.

A growing number of fantasy looks among leather goods and accessories companies has helped reawaken the interest of buyers, said Giorgio Cannara,president of both Mipel and AIMPES.

The dominant trends for next spring and summer were clean lines and quality leathers. Collections were full of materials, shapes and themes.

For example, Braccialini’s proposals included calfskin purses embellished with flowers, cascades of leaves and butterflies made of various types of leathers that were hand-painted and hand-appliquéd, little trunks decorated with rhinestones and studs and polychrome suede soft calfskin sacks. The range of colors varied from camel and spices to pastels such as ivory, fuchsia and blue, and golden sand shades.

A higher confidence level was crossed geographical borders. “Mipel was a very good window to buyers from both Italy and abroad, especially Eastern Europe, Portugal, Russia, Spain and the U.K.,” said George Picard, product development and marketing head of Germany’s Picard.

The firm, which followed the quality trend with washed goatskin bags in chocolate, turquoise and sand colors, said it registered interest for even crocodile bags, that were its most expensive products.

The show next September will celebrate its 100th edition.

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