All the fun of the fair

31 January 2019



The 43rd staging of FIMEC, Latin America’s largest leather footwear industry fair, takes place on 26–28 February at the FENAC pavilions in Novo Hamburgo, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, and features the latest initiatives impacting the leather footwear industry.


FIMEC, or to give it its full name, the International Fair of Leather, Chemical Products, Components, Machines and Equipment for Footwear and Tanneries, brings together the leather footwear industry’s entire operation in one place – and the 43rd edition is set to be a pivotal occasion given the state of the Brazilian market and the potential of the new government to bring about change.

In late November, FENAC and FIMEC’s partner entities held a press conference to present the upcoming fair’s initiatives. From manufacturing to logistics, the fair is the place where the industry strikes deals, and introduces new leather and fur products, chemicals, components, machines, equipment and technologies aimed at the entire footwear industry. As the industry’s largest fair in Latin America, the last FIMEC drew in over 500 exhibitors as well as high-quality professional attendees from more than 37 countries.

At the press conference, FENAC’s executive director Mauro de Paula pointed out that FIMEC represents the full might of the leather footwear market.

“FIMEC is built by many hands, given it has been supported by several industry entities from the get-go,” he said. “We are quite optimistic about the fair’s 2019 numbers, which already seem likely to top [last] year’s.

“Our main mission is to allow business leaders and industry people visiting the fair to leave here with greater knowledge and more information. Our goal is to turn coming to FIMEC into a transformative experience, and to do that we offer inspiring projects that further knowledge to help business leaders find ways to improve their business.”

FIMEC Forum

A success at the last fair, the FIMEC Forum has been confirmed for the 2019 programme. Devised to offer information and global knowledge for the advancement of the leather footwear industry, the event is held alongside FIMEC, and features Brazilian and foreign speakers renowned for their footwear industry expertise.

Suane Lemke, coordinator of FIMEC’s Organisation Committee, said the forum is intended to make the fair even more relevant by offering transformative content.

“The FIMEC Forum provides access to, and networking with, relevant people working in the international market,” she said. “Our goal is to make the forum a place where the industry gets to present ideas and innovations, and so we strive to fire up and inspire the market.”

Featured this year are speakers engaged in fashion and business, called in to share their expertise and discuss relevant topics impacting the industry. One top name already confirmed is Thomas Michaelis, head of textile coatings for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at Covestro (Germany), who will be speaking about ‘Textile coating: the impact from changing the solvent system to water-based chemicals on the industry’.

Another confirmed talk is ‘The future of design and manufacturing’, which will address consumer viewpoints in order to translate design ideals and bring them to the industry. It will be given by Rob Bruce, a top creative leader dedicated to human-centred design, whose design credits include brands such as Apple, Nike, Google and Coca-Cola.

Sergio Guimarães, a footwear industry expert with over 40 years’ experience in the world market working for brands including 9West, Disney and Nike, will also give an address.

The FIMEC Forum is sponsored by Transduarte and Orisol, and enjoys master support from SEBRAE RS, Universidade Feevale and leather footwear industry entities.

FIMEC Studio

The FIMEC Studio is a spot at the fair dedicated to fashion information, and provides a visitor experience for FIMEC attendees. In this inspirational environment designed by Studio 10 and Coelho Assessoria Empresarial, visitors can access finished products informed by fashion research based on consumer behaviour. It is a fun learning universe filled with fashion trends that provide guidance for visitors’ creations.

The FIMEC Studio’s theme this year is ‘Converging Relationships’ and it will address the various generations that, to a greater or lesser extent, participate in the virtual world. Raw materials and products are based on this virtual engagement background, which encompasses natives to the digital age (Y-millennials, Z-centennials, the Alpha generation) and also visitors to this age (Generation X and baby boomers).

Designer and Studio 10 director Christian Thomas says this relationship between generations is the main topic of behaviour studies to be carried out for the FIMEC Studio in 2019.

“Technology is advancing and becoming embedded into human life,” he said. “The interaction between different generations leads to new behaviour, which consequently creates new consumption characteristics.”

Concept Factory

FIMEC’s Concept Factory shows real-time footwear manufacturing to help visitors understand how the technological processes and products on display at the event can be used. Put together by FENAC, the Brazilian Institute of Technology for Leather, Footwear and Related Goods (Instituto Brasileiro de Tecnologia do Couro, Calçado e Artefatos – IBTeC) and Coelho Assessoria Empresarial, the project will feature approximately 70 companies that supply everything from raw materials to production management and control systems, machines, and industrial waste disposal services. IBTeC executive president Paulo Griebeler addressed the project’s theme for the next year.

“’Information technology at the service of the footwear industry’ will be the Concept Factory’s theme in 2019 and we want to present some new concepts that have emerged from this digital revolution,” he explained. “We will be bringing machines, innovations, technologies, and sustainable processes and products for this market.”

Coelho Assessoria Empresarial director Luís Coelho says the project has been evolving constantly over the years.

“We are getting to the Concept Factory’s 10th year and the project’s evolution is clear as, over this time, we have earned the respect of FIMEC itself and of the market, so much so that we have been able to expand our area and move the project to a better location, given the project’s importance at the fair and in the market,” he said.

Visitors will see a truly innovative factory in terms of management, with machine and equipment integration systems that increase manufacturers’ productivity and ensure real-time production performance control.

Brands manufacturing at the fair will be Calçados Kildare from Novo Hamburgo and Calçados Arezzo from Campo Bom. The two factories have come up with specific innovations for presentation at the event. Arezzo’s CEO Cisso Klaus says the highlight of the Concept Factory and FIMEC is the entities’ unity.

“Sharing knowledge and information is essential, but the special thing we have here is the entities working together towards a common goal,” Klaus pointed out. “The industry needs to adjust to it and walk beside us. This is our main strength to bring back the pride in being shoemakers. As long as we focus on that, there will be no division, just unity.”

Additionally, the Concept Factory will feature a manufacturing unit run by Senai making women’s wedges entirely designed by students from the Senai Institute of Footwear Technology (Instituto Senai de Tecnologia do Calçado) following an internal contest. The Concept Factory will employ 60 workers in order to produce 900 pairs of shoes from brand Arezzo, 450 from Kildare, and 900 from SENAI over the fair’s three days. In addition to students from SENAI’s Footwear School, the project will hire workers looking for a new job in the market.

SOLA Project

Further advancing the partnership established over the years at FIMEC, in 2019 the Brazilian Association of Footwear Manufacturers (Associação Brasileira das Indústrias de Calçados – Abicalçados) will present its automated logistics system (Sistema de Operações Logísticas Automatizadas – SOLA) at the Concept Factory to show logistic processes being controlled in an automated manner via barcode reading and RFID.

Abicalçados consultant Igor Hoelscher, head of the SOLA project, explains how the system is able to satisfy the footwear industry’s need to improve its productivity, streamline processes in order to lower costs, and secure full traceability by adopting methods that integrate and add efficiency to the links along the chain – from raw material suppliers to retailers.

“At the fair, interested business leaders will have the chance to learn about the control system, with traceability and cloud computing principles in place to monitor supply, losses and finished product output in real time,” he explained.

According to Hoelscher, with implementation costs compatible with a company’s size, savings and productivity increases are huge, especially since errors are mitigated throughout the process, and information is delivered quickly and seamlessly to enable sales departments to improve their sales.

“The process has been drawing the attention of major manufacturers,” he said. “However, our main challenge has been getting to the retail industry, which requires rework on retagging procedures that disregard manufacturers’ controls and labelling. The adoption of patterns allows for integration along the chain and scale gains, and consequently lower costs. Not to mention the business impact of a fashion product that nowadays, instead of circulating quickly, remains standing still for a long time while client procedures are followed.”

Business rounds

Business rounds will also take place at the 2019 FIMEC. Another FF Exchange event will be held by Abicalçados via Future Footwear, a programme run in collaboration with industry entities Abrameq (machines), Assintecal (components), and CICB (leather). The initiative is a speed networking-type business round where participants have three minutes to present their products and begin negotiations. This time, the project will bring together key footwear retailers and the chain’s suppliers so they can make the most of their time and meet as many people as possible in order to strike deals, thereby bringing all the links in the chain closer together.

Another notable initiative is the Buyer Project carried out by By Brasil Components, Machinery and Chemicals in an effort to encourage exports made in collaboration with the Brazilian Trade and Investment Promotion Agency (Agência Brasileira de Promoção de Exportações e Investimentos – Apex-Brasil) and Assintecal.

Over the three-day event, about 600 business rounds are expected to be held between project participants and 10 buyers from Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador, India, Mexico and Peru. Deals are expected to top last year’s total of $15 million.

FIMEC is the place where the South American leather footwear industry showcases the latest products.
The impact of digital technology on multi-generational consumer behaviour will be explored by FIMEC Studio.
Brazilian and foreign speakers will share their footwear industry expertise during the popular FIMEC Forum.


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