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Comment: International buyers out in force at Micam

A strong turnout of international buyers at the 86th edition of Milan footwear trade show Micam has cemented its place as the must-attend shoe exhibition in Europe, as UK brands took the opportunity to meet continental buyers before Brexit.

The show, at the sunny Fiera Milano on 16-19 September, had increased security measures this season, leading to long queues and some frustration from exhibitors and attendees. But despite the initial delay getting in, the show got off to a steady start on Sunday, which is traditionally dominated by Italian independent buyers. Brands in the halls closest to the entrance reported full stands, while other exhibitors in halls further back were expecting footfall to pick up later in the week as crowds filtered through the expansive venue.

Brands reported a strong turnout from international buyers – visitors from South Korea, Japan, the US, Dubai and Russia were in attendance, as well as those from across Europe.

Some brands noted that the show falls too late in the season for UK order books. However, buyers from Dune, Office, Footasylum, Charles Clinkard, Kurt Geiger, Jules B and Tower London were spotted meandering through the halls.

Brexit was a hot topic of conversation for UK and European brands as the six-month countdown begins. UK exhibitors called for clarity on trade deals, as the current confusion makes it difficult to plan for coming seasons and reassure existing European customers.

In terms of product, athleisure continued to dominate. Casual styles could be found across all price points, and most brands, including more traditionally formal labels, had incorporated trainers into their collections for spring 19.

The 1990s-style chunky trainer trend was taken to new heights. Extreme platform soles and bright clashing colourways stood out at brands such as Karl Lagerfeld.

Comfort was an increasing focus for several labels – cushion technology and super-soft leather were introduced at multiple brands as consumers demand practical and stylish shoes.

Other notable trends included woven uppers and the use of metallics in women’s footwear.

The mood at the spring 19 edition of Micam was positive overall, as exhibitors praised the quality and range of buyers in attendance. As the UK market continues to prove challenging for brands and retailers of all sizes, international trade is increasingly important for UK footwear brands, which helps to maintain Micam’s reputation as the biggest and best event in the European footwear calendar.


Mood of the show: 

Alan Pringle Managing director, Barker Shoes

It has been a very good show for us. We’ve seen a mix of new and existing customers – a lot from Japan and South Korea, so a good international showing. Our European customers are wondering what’s going to happen with Brexit – as are we – but they haven’t been put off placing orders. We just need some clarity now.

Neil Kirkby Head of sales, Joseph Cheaney & Sons

The show started very well with a strong day on Sunday. It is very international this season – buyers from South Korea, Greece, Switzerland, Germany and the UK were all on the stand. The show is very late in the season, but it means that people want to do business, as it’s now or never in terms of placing orders.

Kat Maconie Designer and founder, Kat Maconie

We see all our customers at Micam – it’s a really international show and is our main show for the season. We write all our own orders here. There’s so little British business at the moment, so we wouldn’t invest in showing at a British trade show, as the market is dominated by a few key players at our end of the market. We have a lot of international business, and we are an entry-level designer brand, so we have been quite shielded from the problems on the UK high street recently.

Mark Pearson Managing director at footwear distributors Skape, showing Irregular Choice

We’ve had a strong show. We haven’t been here for a couple of years, as the show had become very Italian rather than international, but we have seen much more of a mix of buyers this season. It feels fresh, and there is a sense of optimism at the show. We’re not seeing any resistance from European buyers with regard to Brexit. The market is tough but, because we have a niche product, we tend to be more immune to the fluctuations in the market.

Mark Husted Managing director, Base London

Sunday was the quietest it has been in there for four years. I think because the weather has been great, the Italians didn’t come in their usual numbers. We’ve had buyers from Japan and Russia on the stand, but we’re finished for the UK at this stage of the season. Most of our business is international now, so the lack of clarity around Brexit is a worry. We’re looking at a lot of different options, including opening a central distribution hub in Europe, but we just don’t know what’s going to happen yet.

Roberto Polci Executive at Shellys London

There was a quiet start to the show on Sunday – it tends to be that way as the bigger multiples come on Monday or Tuesday. It was busier in February, however. We had visitors from Dubai and Italy, and some from the UK and the US.

Lucy Whittaker Deputy managing director, French Sole

We’re feeling very positive about this season. We see a lot of existing clients at Micam and we’re hoping to pick up some more. Last season we saw a lot of Russians, which was new for us. We’ve had a big increase in online orders, which has been interesting, and we’re focusing a lot more on online, as the market is changing.

Jess Atkinson Sales representative, Miss L Fire

We do a lot of shows, including in New York, LA and Copenhagen, but this is one of our best shows. We see a lot of European customers here, as well as a lot of Russians and Japanese. For us, there aren’t any good shows in the UK – they all show brands at a lower price point than us and our customers don’t attend.

We’ve found people are placing orders much later in the season now, as they’re being very cautious as a result of Brexit. Those who usually order in August are now ordering in September. We’re concerned about the impact from Brexit, especially with shipping costs and how it will affect moving things from warehouses to stores.


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