This Sunday marks the start of a new edition of MICAM Milano, the world's leading footwear fair, hosted by Assocalzaturifici. The event has become a benchmark for industry professionals worldwide. From September 17 to 20, we'll have the opportunity to preview Spring/Summer 2024 collections at Fiera Rho Milano. Additionally, we can explore the MICAM X section, offering updates on key industry topics, and experience the Emerging Designers area featuring designs by twelve emerging creators, among other exciting activities.
We speak with MICAM's President, Giovanna Ceolini, to learn about what to expect from this edition, whose motto is Walk Your Way. MICAM has established itself as a prime business opportunity on the international stage, attracting global dealers. According to Ceolini, it is “a privileged stage for intercepting the trends that will become the realities of the future and seeing the best of Italian-made footwear.” This spotlight on a rapidly growing industry, which has faced pandemic-related challenges, underscores the fair's adaptability and resilience and focuses on the importance of having conversations and debates around today’s pressing issues as well as establishing synergies.
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Hello Giovanna, welcome to METAL. A new edition of MICAM Milano will be starting in just a few days. How are you doing, and how are the final preparations going?
We are working hard to offer footwear professionals from all over the world a 96th edition packed with unmissable content. Not only in the exhibition, with previews of the Spring/Summer 2024 collections, but also in the seminars at MICAM X, addressing the most topical issues in the industry.
MICAM is the world’s leading footwear fair, promoted by Assocalzaturifici, and has become a benchmark event for dealers from all over the world. What can we expect to see in the September 2023 edition? What are the key new developments this season?
MICAM is a unique event on the global exhibition scene because it covers the entire world of footwear. I am referring not only to the exhibitions but also to everything that gravitates around the industry. We have specific sections dedicated to each topic. These range from an emerging designers area for viewing the creations of new talents from all over the world to the MICAM X section offering unique opportunities for updates on the most important topics for our industry. The four theme areas within the concept are Trends & Materials, Sustainability, Art Fashion Heritage & Future, and The Future of Retail, offering a comprehensive overview of the industry.
There is also a strong focus on sustainability. I wish to draw attention in particular to VCS Verified & Certified steps, the first certification mark for the footwear industry, awarded to companies that have embarked on a process of assessment, measurement, and above all, improvement of their corporate sustainability performance, in line with internationally recognised standards. A brand that is becoming increasingly indispensable for footwear companies.
The claim of this edition, which will be held from September 17 to 20 at Fiera Milano Rho, consists of three simple words, Walk Your Way. An ode to the celebration of individuality and personality, which we can freely and creatively express through our shoes. Do you think that the meaning of footwear has changed a lot in recent years?
This admonition is much more than just a motto: it is a message promoting individuality, authenticity and self-expression through the shoes we choose to wear. Walking is a simple and natural action, but it is the way we do it that expresses who we are. Walk Your Way is an invitation to explore your own style, embrace your individuality, and wear your shoes with pride, reaching your goals step by step.
MICAM represents the multi-faceted world of high-quality footwear in which the customer is at the core of its value system. There are no rules to follow when it comes to shoes. Everyone is encouraged to follow their own passions and wear the shoes that make them feel most comfortable in every situation.
What has brought undeniable radical change is the advancement in technology, which is particularly obvious in this very important industry. MICAM is now presenting the first data-driven Footwear Trend Area and Buyer Guide for an International trade fair, right? Could you tell us more about this?
In cooperation with Livetrend and Lineapelle, we have set up an area at MICAM X where visitors can see and touch the components and materials for the S/S 2024 shoe collections. In addition, we have worked with Livetrend to refine the Buyer Trends Guide, a digital guide sent to all buyers to help them choose which collections to buy, optimising their time and choices. The guide is prepared using algorithms based on data analysed from Instagram, e-commerce, fashion shows and expressions of consumers’ interests, used to support trend forecasts with concrete information. In detail, it presents an overview of the models, colours and shapes of must-have shoes for women and men. September's guide will be for S/S 2024.
One of the trends identified in the latest research is year-on-year growth in the consumer search rate. What do you think are the main reasons for this? Could we say that the footwear industry is experiencing its best moment ever?
Some studies predict that in 2030, the weight of the global footwear market will reach USD 220 billion, as compared to USD 163.2 billion last year, an average annual growth rate of 3.8%. Trainers and sports shoes lead the way in this trend, which will, in the absence of unforeseen events,  be supported by population growth and an increase in average household income. There are of course a number of challenges on the horizon, ranging from economic uncertainties to labour costs and eco-sustainability.
“Walk Your Way is an invitation to explore your own style, embrace your individuality, and wear your shoes with pride, reaching your goals step by step.”
As previously said, MICAM is partnering in this new edition with Livetrend, a pioneering start-up in trend intelligence and analytics, bringing its technology to footwear with algorithms developed specifically for the purpose. How did this alliance come about, and what advantages has this interesting synergy brought?
MICAM collaborates with Livetrend, a start-up at the forefront of trend and market analysis. The innovative digital solution analyses millions of images and information from a variety of web sources, and, under this partnership, transposes its technology to the shoe industry with specially developed algorithms. The data-driven guidance we produce translates the desire for innovation to meet the needs of an ever-changing industry. MICAM intends to provide the most accurate forecasts possible, to help visitors purchase future bestselling products in order to reduce unsold material while optimising commercial and environmental impact.
From presentations on the future of retail and talks presenting WGSN trends to a round table with Istituti Moda; there are plenty of activities to choose from. What are the main challenges the footwear sector is facing today?
The primary challenges facing our industry definitely include sustainability. Our industry is experiencing a paradigm shift because it has accepted that this change implies an increase in brand value, provided a credible approach is built and followed. That is, transparency about materials that must be excellent, and so must control of sources of supply and the production chain. But the biggest challenge will be to make sustainability the prerogative of every consumer, eliminating the current idea of privilege that often leads to the purchase of low-cost, high-impact alternatives. Consumers have evolved, and now consider respect for the environment and eco-friendly production processes as essential points when purchasing footwear. We offer an important answer to this problem with our VCS certification.
Two other significant challenges are the digitisation of industrial processes, which accelerated after the pandemic, and, last but not least, generational change and training. Only with new generations equipped with the necessary professional skills will it be possible to meet the challenges imposed by global markets.
We’ll be able to explore over a thousand collections of men’s, women’s and children’s footwear for S/S 2024. Could you tell us a little more about the trends for the upcoming seasons?
MICAM is the first international exhibition to present a data-driven Trend Area and Trend Guide for buyers. As an exclusive service offered by the exhibition, this data-driven project stems from the desire to improve visitors’ experience by providing them with the most reliable information on seasonal trends to optimise their purchases. There will be four macro-trends for the Spring/Summer 2024 season.
The first, Ancestral Refuge, takes us into an austere, courtly, conscientious universe, translating into a pale colour palette of reassuring warm hues. There will be aged effects, hammered and punched textures, and laser-like chiaroscuro reminiscent of high relief from ancient Greece or Rome. The second macro-trend, Virtual Eden, points to a new world, dreaming of unknown species and marvellous objects of surprising design. The colour palette includes digital pastels, strongly expressing colour even though bleached, with an artificial aura about them, combined with synthetic materials to create effects reminiscent of jelly or bubble gum. Laminated, coated leathers with iridescent and holographic effects amaze the eye, as new metallic effects and high-tech and elastic materials design new products that appear to be projected into this world through virtual reality filters.
Chic subversion, on the other hand, manifests a desire to explore the quirks and troubles of today’s world, coming up with new canons of beauty. This concept ventures cautiously into the world of villains, anti-heroes and outcasts. The colour palette starts with great classics such as black, blue and red, adding hues of violet and grey. The materials play with glossy and matt, smooth and textured effects featuring glossy paints and matt resin coatings, with shades that appear to be sprayed or brushed. Finally, the Bio Hacker trend aspires to immerse itself in nature in order to understand its hidden mystery, in search of solutions for a regenerative future. The colour palette is completely inspired by nature, with khaki greens and light and dark shades of mud, enlivened by touches of lime green and turquoise. The materials in this theme are the most sustainable of all, using natural vegan leathers extracted from cactus, pineapple, rice and recycled rubber made from algae or sugar cane. The trainer is certainly the dominant style in this category. The product is given a fashionable high-tech look using unusual combinations of exotic leather effects and technical materials such as neoprene.
I am very interested in how MICAM Milano promotes young design. In this new call, the exciting work of twelve emerging designers will be spotlighted in the Emerging Designers area. Creative designers from Spain, France, the USA and Argentina, among others, will have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to show their work. What criteria are used to choose the profiles?
The sections of the exhibition most popular among the public include the Emerging Designers area, which hosts footwear designs by twelve emerging new designers. Research is the common thread uniting the proposals of these young designers, chosen in a selection process by a qualified jury to tell their stories to international buyers at MICAM. Sustainability and originality are the keywords behind their collections focusing on the use of recycled or recyclable materials, paying special attention to the production chain and proudly displaying ‘Made in…’ labels.
Once again, the designers’ versatility is surprising, the result of a series of experiences that have often taken them outside their countries of origin and seen them gradually enter the world of fashion and entrepreneurship. Yes, because many of these designers are not only creative, they are entrepreneurs and founders of brilliant independent start-ups, ready to conquer the fashion and footwear industry. Marketing and social media, as well as design and fashion, are the skills these young people have used to emerge and get noticed.
MICAM will provide an entirely new layout centred around their collections and giving voice to their concepts of fashion and style. From Italy to Argentina, from Switzerland to Japan, the fashion atlas narrated by these up-and-coming young designers is wide-ranging and rich in style suggestions. Classic shoes and trainers, boots and sandals: there is no limit to their creativity, with proposals ready to rewrite the history of footwear with innovative shapes and maniacal attention to detail.
What is the key to MICAM’s success in an industry that has been changing so fast in the last few years?
As I’ve said, MICAM is an eagerly awaited event for international dealers, who see it as an excellent business opportunity. It has always been the litmus test of the market, a privileged stage for intercepting the trends that will become the realities of the future and seeing the best of Italian-made footwear. At a pivotal time for sustaining the economic recovery of the sector and bringing productivity back to pre-pandemic levels, this trade show represents an extraordinary opportunity.
How can our readers access MICAM? Where and how can they register?
Information on various ways of accessing and gaining accreditation for press and buyers at the event can be found on the official website.
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