MILAN — Italian brands that showcased their fall collections at leather goods and accessories fair Mipel said despite positive indicators from the U.S. and Japan, the European market continues to stagnate.
“Europe, in reality, is not making a comeback,” said Braccialini chief executive officer Riccardo Braccialini, who is also president of Aimpes, Italy’s leather goods association.
“We continue to worry about the Chinese and Russian markets,” Braccialini added, talking about his own business, which saw its sales fall to 50 million euros, or $54.7 million in 2015, from 55 million euros, or $60.2 million, a year earlier.
Aimpes said sales to the Russian market plunged 24.5 percent and Ukraine was down 33 percent.
Braccialini noted that the Braccialini Group will open four stores in China, regardless, and one in Doha, Qatar, in 2016.
Milan-based luggage and travel bags maker Bric’s also saw sales in Greece, Spain and Italy slide in 2015. But overall in 2015, Bric’s saw sales rise 15 percent to 37 million euros, or $40.5 million, lifted by the U.S. and Middle Eastern markets.
Bric’s is seeing sales of its practical, durable trolleys that retail for $200 to $1,000 surge in the Asian market, as well. Bric’s will open a store in Bangkok, Thailand, and four to five stores in China in 2016. The company is also looking for partners in Japan to aid its expansion.
“Travel pieces are always in demand,” said Riccardo Briccola, Bric’s ceo and Mipel president.
Lifted by a strong appetite for luxury Italian bags, leather goods and accessories outperformed the sector, posting a six percent rise in revenue to 4.2 billion euros, or $4.59 billion, said Aimpes.
By comparison, the leather goods and accessories sector outperformed other sectors of Italian fashion. A spending slowdown in major markets like China caused revenues of the Italian textile industry, for example, to drop 2.3 percent to 7.8 billion euros, or $8.75 billion, in 2015.
Mipel organizers said that the strength of handmade Italian goods and the “value for money” that is implied by their quality will help the small and family-run companies that participate at the fair withstand turbulence in 2016.
As for trends, brands like Corsia, Simona Tagliaferri and Edmos showcased rugged, unfinished looks suitable for men and women. Utilitarian, sporty tech bags crafted with unisex ergonomics and modular combinations stood out from Mr. Gherardini, Animadverte, Positive Causes and Tratakan.
One of the important features of the 109th edition of Mipel was the “Scenario” project that put new brands on center stage. The new exhibition space was divided into subsections like earth, water, wind and fire.
Emerging designers, such as Florence-based Azzurra Gronchi and Giancarlo Petriglia were also present. Petriglia’s brand stood out for its artisanal and abstract art-inspired handbags, fashioned with lipstick and pompoms.
“At first I thought Mipel was the last place I would meet buyers because I am really high-end, but that isn’t the case. Buyers are really looking for high quality,” said Petriglia, who noted that his bags run from 900 euros, or $983, to 6,000 euros, $6,562.
“It is important to be here. This is the best fair for bag brands,” said Gronchi, who comes from a leather goods-making family and works with fashion-forward labels such as Alessandro Enriquez’s 10×10 An Italian Theory.
Mipel, which took place at the Milano Fiera Rho fairgrounds for four days through Feb. 17, hosted 300 brands, and saw the number of visitors drop 4.5 percent compared to last February’s edition. The number of buyers rose 6.9 percent. Most of the international buyers came from Japan, Spain, Russia and France, Mipel said.