Chunky Boots, Chain Loafers, Sneakers – WWD
MILAN — Political unrest and a slowing post-pandemic recovery, rocked by supply chain issues and skyrocketing logistics and energy costs, clouded the mood at the fall show 2022 of Micam.
Some 821 exhibitors and around 29,000 buyers and visitors (including those attending the other three shows being held concurrently) gathered at Milan’s Rho exhibition center in the hope that the three-day show, which ended on Tuesday , would signal a return to pre-pandemic stability, underpinned by a strong performance in 2021. But they faced the harsh reality of inflation, war in Ukraine and a weaker-than-expected rebound in markets. keys.
Footwear brands have played it safe for fall, building on trends from past seasons rather than setting a new direction. Boots and booties with chunky, sculptural soles, as well as sturdy chain loafers, were all the rage, in muted, earthy tones. And while sneakers were all but banned in the recent round of runway shows, Micam provided plenty of playful and embellished styles at the fair.
In 2021, sales in the sector jumped 18.7% to 12.7 billion euros, according to preliminary figures provided by Assocalzaturifici, the sector association. They were still 11% lower than 2019 and reflected a two-pronged recovery, with established brands accelerating and small and medium-sized footwear specialists lagging behind.
Although only 2.7% of Italian shoes are destined for Russia and Ukraine, which generated combined revenues of 317 million euros for the sector last year, there are fears that the crisis could undermine morale. and has a knock-on effect on other regions.
Siro Badon, president of Assocalzaturifici, said that some shoe districts, including the Marche region, depend more on these markets. “They were already hit hard by the sanctions in 2014 [enforced after Russia’s invasion of Crimea]and now they are penalized even more [by the war],” he said.
“We are not able to make forecasts, we can have warehouses full with unsold stocks; goods shipped that will not be paid for and orders placed that could turn into scrap paper,” he said bluntly, urging the Italian government to intervene by offering aid and wage support measures to make in the face of uncertainties.
Footwear executives, on the other hand, seemed more optimistic, touting a strong fall 2022 season so far, while lamenting that the late Micam show could impact orders.
Badon pointed out that very few SMEs can divert their sales to new markets. “It’s too simplistic to say companies can tap into different geographies, smaller ones just don’t have the muscle to do that.”
“With the ruble crisis, it remains to be seen how the market will react,” said Alessandro Olivetti, sales manager for Southern Europe at Germany-based Tamaris. Russia represents the second most important market for the brand, which has not stopped its wholesale activities there, in particular to preserve its 100 jobs.
At the same time, costs and supply chain issues are weighing on profits and causing delays, especially for companies that have moved production overseas, including Tamaris, which relies on facilities in the Far East. for 70% of its goods. In contrast, Frau, based in Verona, Italy, which prides itself on a fully integrated Made in Italy pipeline, has not experienced any delays.
Similarly, at Falc – the footwear group operating some six brands in the adult and children‘s segments, including Voile Blanche, Wizz and Naturino – chief executive Salina Ferretti said the presence of facilities in Italy and Serbia had helped the company. company to avoid supply chain problems.
“Business is good, being exposed to different markets saved us; the United States is particularly dynamic and it is a market less affected by European turbulence,” she said. The market represents 10% of the company’s sales and could compensate for lost revenue in Russian-speaking countries.
With rising energy costs, most businesses were forced to revise their prices upwards, in the range of 5-10%, but buyers didn’t seem to mind, officials said. shoe leaders.
The return to Micam for Frau has meant renewed interest in international expansion and in increasing its export quota beyond the current 10% threshold, tapping into Europe and Asia. Despite the looming uncertainty, company president Gabriella D’Arcano said morale was still high.
Admittedly, domestic spending on footwear has improved, but it remains sluggish compared to 2019, down 11%. Exports to European countries, meanwhile, grew by double digits in 2021, fueling interest in companies from the Old Continent.
For example, the region is proving strong for Furla’s footwear division. The brand returned to Micam with a cool collection, in which utilitarian and hiking-inspired ankle boots with rubberized toes mixed with pop-tinged casual sneakers, both on-trend. Although the category represents only a small part of its revenue, the brand is betting big and plans to expand to the United States in the medium term.
Meanwhile, American shoemaker Nine West is taking the opposite route, seeking international growth in Europe. The brand belonging to Authentic Brands Group has signed a license agreement with Turkish Flo Group for the production and distribution of its collections in the British, German and Italian markets, and a distribution license for other European countries, as well as the North Africa and the Commonwealth. of the Independent States area.
Despite exposure to the latter area, Erkan Emre, country director of Brand Park, the Italian subsidiary of Flo Group, was not worried, anticipating resilience despite the conflict. He sees great potential for Nine West in Europe, despite its low profile, to be exploited via a multi-channel strategy.
Continuing its commitment to sustainability, Assocalzaturifici has introduced its own certification system called VCS, or Verified and Certified Steps, intended to provide companies with a tool to measure and improve their ESG-focused initiatives.