International buyers were back in full force at Milan’s Micam shoe show this week, giving a boost of confidence to both event organizers and brands.
The 95th edition of Micam was held in conjunction with several other trade fairs — handbag show Mipel, jewelry event The One Milano and Homi Fashion and Jewels exhibition — all of which took place at the Rho convention center.
All told, more than 1,800 exhibitors and 48,000 visitors turned out for the trade fairs, a 25 percent increase over the September editions. Kenneth Cole, Crocs and Steve Madden were among the major U.S. brands represented at Micam.
“At a pivotal moment for sustaining the economic recovery of the sector and bringing productivity back to pre-pandemic levels, [these shows] represented an extraordinary opportunity,” said Giovanna Ceolini, chair of Assocalzaturifici and Micam.
The executive said Micam’s decision to return to a four-day format versus three days proved to be a wise one. Buyers and vendors appreciated the extra time to do business — and engage in Micam’s initiatives around emerging talent, technology and sustainability.
“This show has been really good for us. Despite all of the [challenges], there’s such a desire for new product,” said Salina Ferretti, CEO of Falc SpA, parent company of Naturino, Voile Blanche and Flower Mountain, among other brands.
Ferretti said she’s starting to see the first wave of Chinese retailers return to Italy as travel restrictions begin to lift — three years after COVID-19 first upended the industry. (More travel between Europe and China is expected to resume in March.)
While the Asian market is still in transition mode, other key sectors, including the Spanish industry, are experiencing solid momentum.
About 100 made-in-Spain brands were on the scene at Micam. Pilar García Heras, head of the fashion department at ICEX — The Spanish Institute of Foreign Trade — said the companies reported “a lot of good energy” as they reconnected with established customers and also forged relationships with new accounts from Europe, Asia and the United States.
While there were a handful of American buyers at Micam, attendance was somewhat impacted by the show’s overlap with the Atlanta Shoe Market and Coterie shows, which were held in the U.S. over the past few weeks. However, retailers that did attend were upbeat about their prospects for the fall 2023 season, with inventory woes and inflation starting to level out.
“We have been on a very good run since August and expect that to continue,” said Gary Weiner, president and CEO of Richmond, Virginia-based Saxon Shoes. “It looks like prices are moderating and not going up as fast.”
Weiner noted that brands and retailers alike seem to be sticking with more tried-and-true styles — loafers and clunky soles continue to dominate — rather than taking risks on newness. “It’s important to focus on fewer looks, but buy more of what you believe in,” he said.
Robert Schwartz, president and CEO of New York-based Eneslow Pedorthic Enterprises Inc., said he’s buying less overall for fall.
“The recovery in Manhattan is still incremental. Our forecast for fall/winter 2023 is slow and steady improvement, leaving us still well behind pre-pandemic revenue,” Schwartz said. “We’re hopeful that there will be an increased return to in-office work. We are forecasting an [uptick] in ‘career footwear,’ and we anticipate athletic and casual will continue to be the major categories.”
On the broader economic front, Schwartz is optimistic that inflation and supply chain issues will continue to improve.