We are working to offer a great edition of MICAM that can confirm the event as an unmissable business opportunity," these were the words of Giovanna Ceolini - President Assocalzaturifici, during the last edition of the event in September 22.
But what can we expect from MICAM Milan, Feb. 23?
Leather&Luxury had the opportunity to interview Giovanna Ceolini:
Dr. Ceolini, what is the historical industrial context in which the footwear sector finds itself?
"The Italian footwear sector continues on the path of post-pandemic recovery, registering a double-digit increase in turnover in the first nine months of 2022 (+13.9% among the companies in the Associates sample) compared to the same period of the previous year. Also emerging is an increase in exports (+23.7 percent in value and +11.7 percent in volume, driven by luxury brands), which has already surpassed pre-Covid levels (with the exception, however, of shoes with leather uppers, which show a -11 percent gap in quantity on 2019). Rewarding results in EU markets (with increases in the order of +25 percent in value in France and Germany), North America (+62 percent) and the Middle East (+58.5 percent). China is also doing well so far, but especially for the high-end (+43% in value, with +34% in average price). Heavy consequences of the war in Russia and Ukraine (-32% in the first 9 months overall, with -40% since the beginning of the conflict); among the former Soviet bloc states Kazakhstan is growing (+33.4%)."
Speaking of MICAM, what is the historical exhibition context in which we find ourselves?
"After the two-year period marked by the pandemic that recorded many difficulties for exhibition shows finally returned to presence. For an exhibition like Micam, physical attendance, although digital has been a valuable help in past years, is really unavoidable. The September edition was so successful in terms of attendance that it led us to lengthen the February edition by one day, returning to the original four-day duration."
Your event has always been very dynamic and active, what activities are planned for the coming seasons?
"Micam is the appointment awaited by international operators to concretize business opportunities. It has always been the litmus test of trends not only in action, but the privileged stage where to intercept the trends that will become the realities of the future. At a crucial stage in sustaining the industry's economic recovery and restoring productivity to pre-pandemic levels this exhibition represents an extraordinary opportunity. Our exhibition offer will be declined in the strands that represent the closest urgencies of what represents one of the crucial sectors for made in Italy manufacturing. At Micam showcasing innovation in retail but also what's most up-to-date on the sustainability front, starting with our VCS certification, a software to accompany companies and help them be increasingly green."
How well do you think online marketplaces at trade shows have supported and worked, and what developments can they still have? Do exhibitors understand the added value of this service?
Trade shows are the preferred tool for bringing supply and demand together. The audience where to concretize business opportunities and catch future trends in advance. During the lockdown we, like everyone else, complemented the physical trade show with the Digital Show, but the numbers and the dialogue with our visitors made us realize that in-person trade shows are still an indispensable business tool, at least for our industry. Our buyers want to dialogue with us entrepreneurs and touch the collections with their hands.
Collaboration with schools: Is there an active part dedicated to new creatives? Is one aspect of the event also to find/involve the creatives of tomorrow? How so?
"I have to note that there is a lack of specialized personnel and it is really difficult to find them. Fewer and fewer young people are enrolling in technical colleges that are no longer able to churn out capable students ready for the job market. It used to be that technical people with great skills came out of there. We, on the other hand, have a huge need for young people: managers, but not only that, to work alongside talented shoemakers. Our companies, now, have a very advanced level of technology, and I would like that, more and more, our young people would know more about the way they work. They would discover digitally advanced companies that are close to the mindset of those who were born and raised with technologies."
As for the world of footwear, what do you think is the sector that is performing the best in Italy?
"According to our latest report, drawn up by the Confindustria Moda Study Center, all product items show an increase in 2022 over 2021, both in quantity and spending: +14.9 percent and +13.6 percent are the recoveries in volume experienced by classic women's and men's footwear, the most penalized during lockdowns; instead, children's shoes and those of the "sports and sneakers" type are in the range of +9 percent (with about +11 percent in value).
Leather&Luxury has as its slogan "The excellence of Made in Italy": In this regard, we know that historically the term "Made in Italy" is synonymous with "beautiful and well made" especially when referring to footwear and accessories. But what does "Made in Italy" mean for the footwear world today? And how is it being protected? What actions/supports would you like to ask for the sector?
Made in Italy represents the non plus ultra, in terms of excellence, of craftsmanship. It is a unique value, indeed a mix of values that has allowed the Italian shoe to rise to the top of the product desires of customers all over the world. Suffice it to say that everyone is willing to pay a price surplus as long as the footwear is Italian. From materials, to innovation, respect for workers' conditions, creativity, and last but not least, the ability to last. This makes Made in Italy something unique, which must be defended against attempts at counterfeiting around the world. We hope that institutions will protect us especially in international markets because criminal activities can seriously jeopardize a sector that is the flagship of our economy.