In an effort to raise awareness of Spain’s fashion and manufacturing capabilities, the country’s trade show producers are changing the format of shows, forming strategic marketing relationships and upgrading the quality of exhibitors.At Madrid’s Semana Internacional de la Moda (SIMM), slated for Aug. 29-Sept. 1, Espacio Hombre will make its debut. The fair-within-a-fair will feature 40 men’s wear exhibitors spread over 6,000 square feet in pavilion 1 of the Juan Carlos I fairgrounds. The new show joins SIMM’s women’s wear exhibitors in pavilions 2, 4, 6, 8 and 10. Both sectors are expected to stretch over 344,445 square feet, a marginal increase over February. According to a spokesman for IFEMA, the organizer of SIMM, Espacio Hombre is a result of the men’s wear industry’s need of “a consolidated commercial forum” and he called SIMM “an efficient instrument to promote the sector’s international projectile.” He said both Spanish and Portuguese firms have requested booths in the new space. As of press time, Donna Karan, through a Spanish distributor, is the only U.S. exhibitor.Meanwhile, SIMM is blossoming into the Spanish apparel industry’s largest and most significant venue. Last February’s edition hit record highs with exhibitor and attendance figures climbing 6 percent and 13 percent, respectively, over the previous year.While SIMM is the second largest show of its kind in Europe — after Düsseldorf’s cpd — with 875 exhibitors from 29 countries, it is relatively small by German standards. Cpd, produced by Igedo Co., is more than twice the size with a vendor roster of roughly 2,000 from 46 countries.But SIMM and Igedo Co. have joined forces in a mutual agreement to stimulate the promotion and development of both fairs. Short- and long-term objectives include stronger publicity campaigns in Spanish and German trade catalogs, press conferences during show dates, interchangeable information booths at respective fairs and the establishment of banner ads and links on the SIMM and cpd Web sites.Foreign attendance at the previous edition of SIMM was encouraging, with an increase of almost 32 percent, to 2,991 from 68 countries, including Portugal, Mexico, France, Italy and the U.K.Wrapping up February’s Madrid Fashion Week was Pasarela Cibeles, a series of SIMM-sponsored runway presentations. It featured 26 designers and 21 runway shows. The next installment of Pasarela Cibeles is slated for Sept. 23-26.As part of its continued efforts to put Spain on the fashion radar, IFEMA will continue its “Madrid Lives Fashion” campaign at a purported cost of $744,640. Dollar figures are converted from euros at current exchange rates. In February, the fair organizer sponsored a retrospective of Manuel Piña in Madrid’s Circulo Bellas Artes. The late designer’s knitwear and innovative silhouettes are legendary in Spain. As part of the campaign, IFEME in September will stage a footwear exhibition consisting of vintage shoes and artisan tools.Given its wide array of activities, it comes as no surprise that IFEMA is one of Europe’s trade show powerhouses. IFEMA hosted 302 trade events in 2002 including 11 international fairs.One of the most successful fairs is La Semana Internacional de la Piel, or International Leather Week, which was staged March 28-30. It includes Iberpiel Marroquineria, a small leathergoods show that featured 113 exhibitors, and Modacalzado, the only Spanish shoe show, with 595 vendors stretched. The combined fairs recorded a 24 percent increase in visitors, to 22,458. Of that figure, almost 13 percent, or 2,847, were foreigners.But because of hostilities in the Middle East, fewer foreigners attended, ultimately affecting business. “It was a weaker show than last year because of the war,” said Carmen Salas, the Spanish-based U.S. agent for Rebeca Sanver, an upscale women’s wear exhibitor. “Regular customers from Kuwait, Greece and Turkey, for instance, were afraid to fly.”While Madrid has its fair share of fashion drama, so does its coastal sibling, Barcelona. The city’s annual fine and costume jewelry fair, Barnajoya, has canceled its fall edition. “We’re taking a year off to reflect on the development of a more stimulating formula for exhibitors and visitors,” said director Silvia Mas. “In the present format, the fair has not had a favorable evolution and, at the same time, the domestic market is not particularly good.” She said competition with Madrid’s International Jewelry Week traditionally held in January was not a factor in the decision to drop Barnajoya from this year’s trade calendar.Moda Barcelona’s International Bridal Week, or Noviaespaña, kicks off July 9 with three days of runway presentations in the Catalan capital’s historic Casa Llotja de Mar, formerly the Barcelona stock market. Scheduled for July 11-13, Noviaespaña is expected to draw 150 exhibitors, half of whom hail from Europe.Another draw to Barcelona is the city’s fashion week, slated for Sept. 8-13, which typically features more than 30 runway presentations from local designers. Occurring simultaneously, will be Play — formerly called Spoko — a show for junior apparel that will be incorporated into Salon Gaudi, fashion week’s major trade event.Barcelona Fashion Week’s executive director, Alex Flaqué, said, “In September, Barcelona Fashion Week’s upgraded product offering will integrate contemporary lifestyles with maximum design potential for women’s and men’s wear, young talents, lingerie, swimwear and accessories.”

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