MADRID — Despite serious recessionary woes that include an annual gross domestic product growth rate estimated at a scant 0.7 percent through 2016 and what local press calls a “galloping” increase in unemployment (currently at 20 percent, it’s the euro zone’s highest), Spanish trade fair organizers bravely contend the worst may be over.

This story first appeared in the May 19, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

“At the moment, my impression — and certainly my hope — is that the fairs I run are beginning to pick up,” said Pola Iglesias, director of two of Madrid’s strongest fashion events: the SIMM apparel fair and the Modacalzado shoe show. “To accommodate domestic retailers, we’ve pushed back SIMM’s dates — to Sept. 2 to 4 — because the July timing didn’t work as we hoped it would.

“The big news for the upcoming edition is a radical change in image, including 5-foot, 6-inch-high booths with suspension ceiling lights,” Iglesias confirmed, and a debut initiative, called IFEMA Showrooms, to attract high-end labels that currently bypass the fair in favor of neighboring hotels. “The idea is to broaden the product offer with a central meeting place at the fairgrounds for brands that have traditionally shown in other venues.”

SIMM’s February edition, held in two halls of the Madrid fairgrounds, drew 17,463 visitors, a jump of 47.5 percent over last July. Foreigners totaled 1,411, with what organizers called “considerable increases” from Portugal, Italy and Belgium. On the other hand, exhibitor participation shrunk to 404, almost 100 vendors fewer than in February 2009. Similarly, roughly 400 are expected in September.

Unlike the previous show, September’s SIMM fair will not coincide with Giftrends, the Spanish capital’s expansive — and well-trafficked — gift and jewelry shows that stretch throughout 10 halls.

Held mid-February at the Madrid fairgrounds, Cibeles Madrid Fashion Week featured 51 designers (four fewer than February 2009) and 43 runway shows, including a batch of newcomers.

Cibeles’ official budget remains around $4.5 million. Dates for the upcoming fashion week are Sept. 17 to 22 in Hall 14 of the Madrid fairgrounds. No major changes are expected.

Traffic at Modacalzado’s March edition focused on an upscale grouping of 41 established footwear brands with identical booths in an open space the color of heavy cream called Espacio Glam. “The concept has been so well received, especially by vendors, that we’re planning similar areas in September for children’s classifications and trendy, midpriced shoes and accessories,” Iglesias said.

A total of 702 brands represented by 314 vendors exhibited at the show, held in tandem with the Iberpiel leather goods fair at the Madrid fairgrounds. Visitors totaled 9,934 — up 10 percent — with key markets such as France and Russia maintaining buying numbers similar to the previous year, according to organizers.

The upcoming edition has adjusted dates to Sept. 24 to 26, or two days after Micam ends, confirmed commercial director Félix Pérez-Fajardo. It again will include an expanded Buyers Program to attract retailers from domestic and international markets. The price of stands, about 20 percent lower than March 2009, and flexible payment options remain the same, he added.

Barcelona’s disparate fashion events (080 Barcelona Fashion and The Brandery) will not run in tandem for the coming season — as they did in January — which considerably dilutes the product mix, observers agreed.

With its sixth edition slated for July 13 to 15 — although no location has been confirmed — 080, which is underwritten by the Catalan government, is a homespun fashion platform for young indie newcomers. With 18 runway shows and an accompanying “showroom” of 50 stands, the January edition drew 9,400 visitors, an increase of 40 percent over September 2009.

Held in Pavilions 6 and 7 of the Montjuïc fairgrounds, The Brandery — with 165 sportswear and contemporary apparel vendors, including local heavies such as Custo Barcelona and Desigual — posted attendance of 14,689, or a 51 percent hike over its premier edition in July. The Fira Barcelona reported buying groups from El Corte Inglés, Spain’s major department store chain; Galeries Lafayette, and La Rinascente.

To run June 28 to 30 in the Barcelona fairgrounds, The Brandery expects to feature more than 200 exhibitors with attendance topping 18,000.

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