Micam in Milan was back to a Sunday start for the spring 2018 collections after organisers opened the doors on a Saturday for last September’s edition, making a drawn-out – and highly criticised – fourday show. This edition got off to a good start, however, as the consensus among retailers at the Fiera Milano site was that Sunday was a better day to begin.

Optimism was certainly heightened since, for the first time in the show’s history, a sitting Italian prime minister opened the show. Paolo Gentiloni spoke of the resilience, hard work and perseverance needed to succeed in spite of adversity, drawing inspiration from the clean-up efforts following the earthquake in Amatrice last year. Finished footwear products at a show are rarely a matter of life and death, but it was a tasteful, apposite sentiment.

The collections were well received overall, and the impressive and hugely spacious Fashion Square in Hall 1 had a new look, including the biggest brands in the land: Dolce & Gabbana, Fendi, Salvatore Ferragamo, Giorgio Armani, Gucci and Prada to name but a few. This hall for luxury brands was, unsurprisingly, the beating heart of the show, but the other halls for contemporary brands provided the bread and butter.

Massimiliano Pietrolucci, the Italian agent for the UK’s Joseph Cheaney & Sons, said the opening day was very busy, helped in part by the opening of the newly renovated Hall 1, where the company was situated. “We’re in a very good position here,” he said. The brand exudes classic modern English styles that appeal to the high-level buyers at Micam.

The Northamptonshire-based firm is well represented in Italy, and, inevitably, the topic of Brexit was rarely far away, but Pietrolucci – with classic latin flair – shrugged and gestured that was no longer a factor. Business continued as normal, albeit with some need to allay overblown concerns and speculation. Brexit will eventually necessitate another export structure, but that’s some way off yet.

Show of strength

Leather appeared to be strong here, despite the ongoing surge of the athleisure market, which was very much in evidence at the Mipel show next door. Brands upheld the fact that Micam was the biggest and most important footwear trade event in Europe in terms of stimulating the industry. Footwear, in particular, was strong as an intra- European export, and exports of Italian leather goods increased by 15% in the first five months of this year, according to the Italian Association of Leather Goods Manufacturers (Aimpes).

Aimpes chairman Riccardo Braccialini commented that the increase, which represented €3 billion in sales (a gain of 15% in value and 4.61% in volume), was evidence of a very “healthy segment”.

Aimpes data showed that the primary destinations for Italian leather goods during the first five months of the year were Germany and France, despite respective drops in demand of 2.11% and 3.60%. Countries exhibiting the most growth included South Korea (up by 41.08%), Switzerland (32.00%), China (31.16%), Hong Kong (16.38%) and Russia (13.59%).