I'm booked on the Redeye from Heathrow to Milan tomorrow, for my biannual visit to the Micam fair. Micam is one of the most important footwear fairs in the world and is the fair if you are interested in fashion shoes.
It is held every March and September in the Fiera Milano, which is based outside of the city near Malpensa airport.
So why should a freelance footwear designer attend a footwear show? Well....
This is the most important fair for me. I occasionally attend other shows, but I never miss this one. I meet clients who manufacture in Italy, it's an easy way of speaking to the factories that we work with because they all have exhibition booths at the show, they usually have samples ready to show us, so we can try them on and make any adjustments while we are there. I also cover the show for clients who are too busy to attend, I go and meet their suppliers and make sample selections, then in the evening after the show, I email the photos and prices to their office.
I network with people I know, it's a good way of catching up, especially with friends in the trade who live abroad, we only see each other because we both attend.
I meet potential new clients, who have seen that I am visiting the show from reading my website.
I visit the shoe factories that I know and we exchange information and ideas.
I buy lots of fashion magazines, particularly trade press that might be difficult to buy back in London.
I also walk the fair looking for new trends, I visit the vintage section in the bag show (Mipel) because it is usually a great place to get ideas and I visit Milans shops, to check out trends there.
So it's a really busy show for me.
But there are some fun bits, I always stay with my friend and fellow Buddhist Paola. She is an artist and I sleep surrounded by huge and quite dramatic pop art paintings! Then there is the British Footwear Association Party - always great fun and the UK shoe trade get on together like a house on fire, we love to catch up with each other.
Then the shopping, ooooh the shopping. I usually come back with a pair of shoes and something from my favourite store 10 Corso Como, but being a keen cook, I can't resist wasting time in the cooking dept of La Rinascente department store - this is another amazing store if you visit!
Then finally, being a boater I always visit the Navigli Area, the canal area, which always makes me appreciate the canals in the UK, because they just don't treasure the canals in Milan, which is sad.
If you ever visit the Navigli area of Milan, look out for the little old ice cream shop between where the two canals meet. It is fabulous inside, wooden carved cabinets with glass etched doors and lots of polished brass. And very nice ice cream. This area of town is also good for eating out.
Image for this post was borrowed from the Micam website which is here http://www.micamonline.com/micam/main.nsf/openSezione?openagent&sezione=MICAM0AA68