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Coronavirus mutes steady Micam

micam autumn 20

Milan footwear trade show Micam was a quieter affair for autumn 20, as coronavirus and UK storms dampened footfall from international buyers.

The vast halls at Europe’s biggest footwear exhibition, which ran on 16-19 February at Fiera Milano, were noticeably quieter than usual, as many Asian buyers were unable to attend following China’s outbreak of the Covid-19 coronavirus. Several brands Drapers spoke to had appointments from Chinese, Japanese and Taiwanese retailers cancelled across the four days. Some also mentioned that other European buyers were reluctant to travel to the show for fear of infection.

Closer to home, storm Dennis also had an impact as many flights from the UK and Ireland were cancelled on 15 and 16 February. However, UK buyers from retailers including Clinkards, Pavers, Johnsons and Amazon were in attendance and many brands said business was being done.

In terms of trends, sneakers dominated stands once again this season. Many brands were unremarkable, but those that did stand out did so with pops of neon and smarter, more refined styles. In men’s footwear, some brands noted a return to more formal styles as buyers develop trainer fatigue, while in women’s footwear, long boots are popular for autumn 20, after several years of shorter western and biker-inspired ankle-length designs. Sustainability was a hot topic for several brands, and  many informed buyers of their sustainable and ethical efforts through posters or leaflets on their stands.

Like many exhibitions this season, several brands questioned the continued relevance of trade shows in general, as footfall across most exhibitions reduces year on year. Some said they are more of a marketing exercise, while others use them as a meeting point or hub for their international distributors and partners, rather than for writing orders.

The aisles at Micam appeared wider, and more breakout areas were scattered throughout the show this season, leading some to speculate there were fewer exhibitors in attendance. This added to the overall muted mood of the show. However, many praised the overall slick look and feel of Micam and emphasised that it is still the most important footwear trade show in Europe.

Mood of the show 

Jonathan Church, joint managing director, Cheaney

It has been a quiet show. We’ve had a lot of Koreans on the stand but no Japanese or Chinese buyers are here because of coronavirus. There were also a lot of flight cancellations from the UK and Ireland over the weekend, which may have had an impact on footfall. We’ve seen the likes of Clinkards, Johnsons and Pavers from the UK here. Talk about Brexit has calmed down. Having a majority government means we are able to get things done one way or another, but we are all praying for a free trade deal.

Ray Willmoth, international sales manager, Barker Shoes

There’s lots of empty space where there used to be stands and there is definitely less footfall than previous seasons. A lot of our Chinese and Japanese customers aren’t here because of coronavirus and a few of our European customers have decided not to attend because of it as well. Despite that, we opened three new European accounts on the Sunday. For us, Pitti [Uomo, in Florence] is so important from a brand-building point of view. Micam needs to be an order-writing show to justify [the cost of exhibiting].

Adrian Gell, export sales manager, Loake

We invested in a new stand for the show. Expectations for Micam were low because of the Chinese visitors not coming and the Far East not being here. Footfall was fairly quiet over the four days as we would normally have Chinese buyers here, but they cancelled appointments and trips because of the coronavirus. The industry is challenging as it is, but we’ve now got coronavirus to deal with. However, we did manage to make some good relationships here. Micam is a good way to meet up with people: it’s more than just seeing individual customers.

Paul Rhodes, general manager, Gabor

The show was definitely quieter compared with previous seasons. Footfall was down because of the panic over coronavirus. No Chinese buyers came because there were no flights, and lots of people from other countries didn’t visit because they were worried they would become infected – it feels like a global panic. Trade for us was okay in January, but then slowed down in February because of Storm Ciara and Storm Dennis. Everyone is tightening their purse strings. I do forecast a small increase in trade for next autumn.

Peter Youell, managing director of UK and Ireland, Skechers

Between 11am and 4pm we were crazy busy with appointments every day. Our stand was in a really good spot. However, it felt pretty quiet outside our stand in all the halls. Attendance was not great. The spaces between the stands are much bigger, probably as a result of there being fewer exhibitors, which makes it feel even more empty. The coronavirus will have prevented and put people off of coming this season.

Coronavirus mutes steady Micam

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