Footwear buyers are making cautious orders after mild weather at the end of last year led to slower sales of heavier winter items, UK brands reported at Milanese trade show Micam this week.
Khuram Saleem of Unze London at Micam in Milan
While brands were generally feeling optimistic about the season ahead, many said warmer than average temperatures last autumn made sales of products such as women’s knee-high boots more difficult for retailers, which in turn tied up cash for new orders.
“Brogues, loafers and ankle boots are still key for UK buyers, but knee-high boots aren’t as popular because of the weather for the last two years,” said David Jacobs, chief executive of women’s footwear wholesaler Laceys Footwear at Micam, held on February 14-17.
Khuram Saleem, marketing and sales director at women’s contemporary brand and supplier Unze London, agreed: “There are a lot of ankle boots around this season and knee-high boots are dying.
“Buyers have become risk averse, so they check the numbers and sleep on it, rather than make orders there and then at shows. We’re showing some spring 16 ranges here which we can turn around in a month because people are increasingly leaving ordering later and later.
“Being always risky isn’t a good thing but taking some risks is necessary. What I’m selling now is what I was making five years ago.”
“The market is difficult at the moment and I think independents are struggling,” agreed Janan Leo, founder of women’s pump brand Cocorose London. “It is all about your brand – if your brand is known by the end customer, then you do stand a chance.
“It feels like buyers are playing it quite safe when taking on something new and margins are really tight for everyone.”
“After a couple of seasons of caution and buying into reliable styles that will deliver, we’re looking forward to spring 17, which I think will be amazing with lots of really new styles,” said Stewart Richards, director at women’s brand Shelley’s and high street supplier Eternal Best.
Micam runs was held on February 14-17 at Fiera Milano, overlapping with Las Vegas footwear show Platform, on February 16-18, and Pure in London, from February 14-16.
Natasha Eaton, events and marketing co-ordinator at the British Footwear Association (BFA), said: “From our perspective, exhibitor numbers haven’t been affected but [the Vegas date clash] has meat several brands that exhibit at both shows have split their teams up. However, they’ve said this has not affected their show. Overall I would say that Micam is still seen as the European footwear show to be at.”