MILAN — Mipel was a tribute to Milan and the beauty of art.
The handbags and accessories trade show, running Feb. 19 to 22, continued on the path started during the September edition, when art was one of the main topics among exhibitors.
The fair welcomed its visitors through artistic installations and three Italian artists — Matteo Manenti, Denis Medri and Lorenzo Fornaciari — performed live, painting all the installations around the fair. The work of arts will be donated to nonprofit charities.
This edition, the number of visitors to Mipel was counted together with those of the other trade shows taking place at the same time — Micam, TheOneMilano and Homi Fashion&Jewels, totaling 1,800 exhibitors and more than 48,000 professional buyers, a 25 percent increase on the previous edition.
The estimated turnover of the Italian leather goods industry for 2002 is around 13 billion euros, a 14.8 percent increase, while exports are expected to show a 15.1 percent increase.
“After the difficult period due to the COVID-19 pandemic, trade shows seem to have a good restart,” underscored Franco Gabbrielli, president of Mipel and industry organization Assopellettieri. “This does not mean that business is easy now, but both small and big companies can find new market shares by focusing on new strategies.”
These include “rethinking brands and building a solid relationship with clients,” Gabbrielli explained. The importance of a brand concept and the values it shares with its customers is increasingly relevant and smaller companies have a chance to stand out if they work on it, he observed.
Roberto Briccola, chief executive officer of the family firm Bric’s, which celebrated its 70th anniversary in 2022, said revenues rose 20 percent to 55 million euros last year and that exports represented 75 percent of sales. Two of the most important markets for Bric’s are the Middle East (Dubai above all) and the U.S., “which is worth 13 million euros, while China is finally showing signs of a restart,” Briccola said.
Bric’s is distributed through 1,500 multibrand stores around the world, 170 corner shops and 35 monobrand stores. A relevant partnership for Bric’s business is the one signed with Porsche Design: bags, luggage and small leather accessories combine the family’s history with Porsche’s international brand awareness.
The Middle East, especially Qatar and Kuwait, is a key market for Italian firm Braccialini, together with Eastern Europe. “We are expecting the Saudi Arabia market to grow significantly,” said Giacomo Gori, sales and retail manager. “Riyadh has implemented and diversified its investments and has also won a bid to host the 2029 Asian Winter Games.”
Braccialini’s new collection is “Roulette d’amore [Love roulette]” and was “inspired by the atmosphere of cities like Venice, Los Angeles and Macau, said Gori, “and from a playful kind of love in a burlesque mood.”
The company is planning the opening of 40 stores in six years, he offered. “New shops in Spain and the U.S. are already planned.”
Exports are Biagini’s strength as well, representing 60 percent of sales. The U.S., the Middle East, Japan and South Korea are among the best-performing markets for the Modena, Italy-based company.
“We designed a new collection where different kinds of materials meet,” explained junior designer Sofia Barbolini. “This is how we represented two of our values: the importance of unity and the importance of diversity.” This is called “Frammenti [Fragments]“ and features materials like leather, brass and bamboo. Biagini’s signature bag is “Onda [Wave],” which is reminiscent of the fluidity of water and the flexibility of each human being.
Flexibility and variety were key topics at Alchimia’s booth, too. Owner Giacomo Milazzo showcased three main collections: a classical one, made of soft and delicate shapes, and a sport chic line, where vegetable leather meets materials like python and calfskin. A third collection was inspired by Pop Art: leather and technical fabrics like nylon turned into canvas with prints and designs inspired by well-known cities and paintings.
The company based in Bologna is now trying to find new market shares in countries such as Spain, France, New York, Japan and Italy, Milazzo said. “Japan is an exception for us in the Asian market, as other Asian countries firms we used to work with are now focusing on a lower market range, and this is why we are choosing to expand in other continents.”
Paola Valducci, owner of Borsettificio Laura, showed the Cavalcanti brand at Mipel and said she saw the same kind of issue with U.S. clients. “The last economic crisis was global and each company has to deal with the same challenges. We believe the strength lies in creativity and modern strategies.”
An interesting area set up in Mipel was “Scenario,” where visitors could see new creative brands such as Mintsa, made in Thailand, which featured small luxury bags to support the country’s small businesses, and Omar Nasser, by the namesake Lebanese designer. He paid tribute to both Lebanon and Italy, where Nasser studied and now produces all of his collections, with small leather bags.
“Our clients are here to expand into the Italian market,” said Giovanni Scalia, CEO of the Scalia Group, an Italian distributor for German and Austrian brands like Travelite, specialized in bags and luggage; scarves brand Fraas, and umbrella label Doppler, whose products retail from 10 to 250 euros.
“Travelite, for instance, performs very well in German-speaking countries but showed good growth both in Italy and in Croatia, Kazakhstan and South Korea thanks to Mipel,” Scalia said.
Travelite has also implemented its presence in Italian airports.
Mipel organizers believe in continuing to help small businesses in terms of digitalization and carried out the partnership with platform Mirta, which started last year. The goal is to be a reference point for small companies to implement their online business by supporting them with a complete range of services.