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Mipel Draws International Crowd

Despite the strong euro and dates clashing with Paris-based Premiere Classe, Mipel organizers reported solid business and attendance propelled by international visitors.

A Braccialini bag

A Braccialini bag.

Photo By WWD Staff

MILAN — Despite the strong euro and dates clashing with Paris-based Premiere Classe, Mipel organizers reported solid business and attendance propelled by international visitors.

The four-day leather goods exhibition here ended on March 2.

Trends at Mipel fall-winter 2008 included the use of soft fabrics such as velvet, with a matellassé or tapestry effect, and a vintage or retro look. Hides were often treated with a metallic shine, with bronze, silver and gold streaks. Shapes continue to be large and soft, although not as oversize as last season.

There were many clutches and envelopes. Woven details, wooden accessories such as handles or buttons, embroideries and pleats contributed to the luxurious, handcrafted image of merchandise. The color palette revolved around many different hues of gray, from mother-of-pearl to light pink and azure, contrasting with strong magenta, lemon and vibrant green.

"Sales went very well, especially during the first two days," said Giorgio Cannara, president of Italian leather goods association Aimpes, as well as Mipel. "Therefore, forecasts are moderately optimistic."

There were 18,251 visitors, compared with 18,204 last year. Increases of 11 percent and 5.4 percent, respectively, in the number of Russian and Japanese guests, helped balance a drop in U.S. attendance.

"Despite signs of recovery in 2007, the domestic market remains weak," said Cannara. "More than 50 percent of Mipel visitors come from abroad, which confirms the international interest in the event."

Reflecting the industry's performance last year, statistics show production grew 10.6 percent compared with 2006, reaching 3.85 billion euros, or $5.22 billion at average exchange rate for the period, mostly drawn by strong exports. In 2007, exports grew 18 percent compared with 2006, reaching more than 2 billion euros, or $2.74 billion. Over the last few months, there was also a 5.5 percent growth in domestic consumption.

Compared with 2006, sales to Russia rose 47 percent, reaching more than 100 million euros, or $137 million. Sales to the United Arab Emirates and Hong Kong gained 45 and 25 percent, respectively. Exports increased 61.5 percent to England, 31 percent to France, 24.3 percent to Greece and 21.6 percent to Spain.
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