MILAN — Mipel, the International leather goods and accessories trade fair held here, is celebrating its 110th edition this fall by boosting its international appeal with a series of events and collaborations.
On Tuesday, the presentation of the upcoming fair in September was also the occasion to reveal data provided by Aimpes, the Italian leather goods association. In general, the leather goods industry represents 30 percent of luxury goods sales. Exports represent 90 percent of leather goods sales, which remain stable at 1.6 billion euros, or $1.8 billion at current exchange, compared to 2015. According to Aimpes data, there has been a slight slowdown in exports in the first quarter of 2016, decreasing 0.05 percent. In particular, in the period, exports of women’s bags dropped 1.7 percent and leather goods were down 3.3 percent, with briefcases showing the steepest decrease at 14 percent.
In the first quarter, sales in the U.S. totaled 133 million euros, or $147 million, while sales in China stood at 63 million euros, or $70 million, registering a drop of 11 percent and 15 percent, respectively, compared to the same period last year. Japan rose almost 13 percent to total 122 million euros, or $135 million, while exports to Hong Kong reached 148 million euros, or $164 million, rising 6 percent.
Data also show an increase in Germany (up 15 percent), Spain (up 7.6 percent) and France (up 5.2 percent).
Italy represents the second-largest market for leather supplies after China, with sales of 560 million euros, or $620 million in 2015.
Supported by Italy’s Chamber of Fashion, the Italian Buyers’ Chamber and Milan’s municipality, Mipel for the first time will host a few events in the city from Sept. 3 to 6, going beyond the fairgrounds, which are located a 30-minute subway ride from central Milan.
“Our main goal is to make our fair more welcoming, closer to the city,” said Riccardo Braccialini, president of Aimpes and chief executive officer of the family’s namesake brand. Braccialini stressed the importance to offer this “also for all those people coming from abroad, who will be more inclined to come to Milan with a welcoming environment all around.” As an example, he pointed to the packed calendar of events linked to Milan’s annual design week.
“Mipel in citta,” or “Mipel in the city,” will debut with a cocktail held in the Triennale museum, located in Milan’s central area. The event will be the occasion to award the winners of “The Icon,” a contest in which a jury of international buyers will select five finalists among the products shown in the fair’s “Trend Area.” As a prize, the products will be showcased in Noosphere XX1, a pavilion dedicated to Naba, Domus Academy and Tsinghua University in the Triennale Milan. The following day, “The Glamourous Night” will animate the Darsena district, with a music and laser-light show open to the public.
Renato Galliano, director of the Economic Innovation, Smart City and Universities Sector for Milan’s municipality, stressed how “to make the city more interesting and attractive is a winning game for both sides.” Galliano also revealed upcoming collaborations to make the city more international, including a partnership with New York’s municipality for a start-up exchange: Milan will welcome ten American start-ups that are testing the Italian market, and New York will do the same in return.
Mipel’s main objective is to attract more buyers, both in quality and quantity. For the second time, the strong bond between Mipel and the Italian Fashion Buyers’ Chamber resulted in “The Glamourous,” a specific area displaying four important buyers who have decided to showcase four emerging designers’ collection on their stands and in their shop windows. Compared to last year’s edition, the buyers involved are not only from Milan but from all parts of Italy.
The retailers involved are Sugar, Mantovani, Penelope and L’Inde le Palais, who have chosen to support designers Luca Lucaroni, Giacomo Zanchetti, Tommaso Cecchi De’ Rossi and Filippo Pugnetti, respectively. Giuseppe Angiolini, owner of Sugar and honorary president of the Italian Fashion Buyers’ Chamber, stressed the importance of the synergy between young designers’ creativity and buyers’ expertise. Pugnetti, who recently scooped the “Who is on Next?” prize in the accessories category, stressed the importance of bringing back a focus on Italy and Italian know-how.
Covering a 107,640-square-foot surface, the fair will include also “Scenario,” an area to display niche products and give visibility to new brands, and the “Trend Area,” a style-oriented space where press and buyers will find the standout pieces of the spring collections.
In regards to business, Braccialini took a dim view, noting there are no markets growing at the moment, adding that the luxury industry is suffering, pointing in particular to the Chinese market. He also stressed how Italians are leaders in the leather goods sector, underscoring the additional value to have not only big named brands but also excellent small to-medium-sized companies.