By  on April 12, 2005

MILAN — The strength of the euro against the dollar played a key role at Mipel, the four-day leather goods exhibition here last month.

Giorgio Cannara, president of Mipel, said the “euro-dollar rate strongly influenced” the event. He was pleased with turnout and results of the edition that ended March 22, which showcased products for fall-winter. Organizers reported a 10 percent increase in visitors from outside Italy compared with a year ago, or 13,711 people from a total of 21,427.

While the number of Italian visitors dropped 4.9 percent to 7,716, other European countries contributed to Cannara’s upbeat assessment: Visitors from England and France increased 40.5 and 22.3 percent, respectively. Asia confirmed its interest, with attendance from Japan growing 27.6 percent, while Russia, one of the top emerging markets for leather goods, was up 19.3 percent. The number of people from the U.S. was just about even with last year, 237 compared with 234.

While underscoring the 17.6 percent boost in exports from January through November compared with the same period last year, Mauro Muzzolon, general director of Mipel, said the medium-range sector is suffering the most.

“Market conditions will favor items that have a contained price,” Muzzolon said. “The high-end range of the market will accentuate its niche positioning with an exclusive style that is hardly beatable.”

To this end, exhibitors at Mipel focused on luxurious hides, embellished details and innovation.

Christian Mantero, a Como, Italy-based company known for its textile prints, has diversified into handbags and won Mipel’s award for innovation during a gala event on the opening night of the exhibition.

Leather goods company Nazareno Gabrielli was a new entry at Mipel. Simone Tarocco, marketing manager of Key Group, a consultancy that took control of Nazareno Gabrielli this year, said the firm wanted to shine the spotlight on its new direction.

“Nazareno Gabrielli reemerges after years of management problems,” said Tarocco. “We plan to dive into the company’s rich archives, enhance its exquisite handmade craftsmanship and bring back its luster.”

A museum will open in 2007 in Tolentino, in central Italy where the company is based, to mark Nazareno Gabrielli’s 100th anniversary. For fall, the company combined unusual materials and showed a deconstructed tweed and pony-hair shoulder bag embellished with flowers, and a soft, roomy bag with crocodile and studs.

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