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While the softening euro is making prices slightly more palatable, some retailers said that cash-strapped consumers are no longer willing to pay top dollar for luxe footwear.
“Anybody who hasn’t changed their business model isn’t going to survive,” said David Assil, owner of several upscale Madison boutiques in Los Angeles. “I’m not expecting the business climate to change in the near future.”
Assil said his wife and a buyer had found several interesting styles at Micam, but that the store was carefully scrutinizing its buys.
The high cost of designer footwear was also top of mind for designers at the show. “Prices have gotten to a point where it’s stupid,” said New York-based designer Heather Williams, who is debuting her first collection, H. Williams, for fall ’09. Even as she acknowledged challenges in the marketplace, Williams — whose line will retail for between $350 and $1,000 — said she is still upbeat. “There is definitely restraint in buying, but I’m happy because the response has still been very good,” she said. “As much as the economy seems sober, it’s important to show inspiring product.”
Among other notable newcomers at the show was New Balance, which debuted a limited-edition women’s contemporary lifestyle line.
“[This line] is very different for us and quite fresh,” said Robert Ward, European category manager for lifestyle. “But the key is retaining the qualities that are unique to New Balance’s athletic DNA.”
Micam drew 36,555 attendees, a 5.7 percent decline from the February 2008 event. Organizers said 17,610 Italians and 18,945 foreigners attended the show, down by 1.5 percent and 9.4 percent, respectively, from a year ago. A total of 1,611 exhibitors participated in the event.