A question I get asked often is, 'where to find a shoe show?'
This blog post focusses on the three main European Fairs that attract international visitors
The MICAM - happening twice a year in March and September on the outskirts of Milan in Italy, this show is aimed mostly at buyers who want to buy Italian footwear and there is also a bag show on at the same time MIPEL Bag Show, which is worth a look. We shoe designers love the edited vintage section in MIPEL, where you can actually buy vintage items to help with your research (or if you are me, buy a vintage item because you absolutely love it.
MICAM has an International young designers section so if you are a noob and you need to sign up some accounts then you could apply for a booth in this section.
As well as Italian made footwear, you can find most of the big brands at MICAM, plus some of the trading companies that do own label for chain retailers have booths there.
If you are flying in from outside of Italy, then Malpensa is the nearest airport to the fairgrounds. You can reach central Milan by Metro from the fair in about 30 minutes.
Don't forget to take a look around the shoe stores in the golden triangle. Take the metro to Duomo and start from there.
GDS is the main footwear fair in Germany, held in Dusseldorf twice a year, again in March and September, usually the MICAM and GDS fairs are held about a week apart. The fairgrounds are very close to Dusseldorf airport and there is a free shuttlebus when the fair is on. Your show pass also entitles you to free public transport in the city and it's easy to catch a train into town, which is worth doing as there are some excellent shoe stores in the city centre. GDS has some of the same exhibitors as MICAM, but also a comfort and wellness focus. It's a better show to visit if you need comfort shoes, sneakers or young casual street fashion.
Held at the same time and on the same fairgrounds (you can use your GDS pass to enter), is Global Shoes , which is basically a China sourcing fair for low priced goods, as well as fashion, you can find flip flops, slippers and rainboots and there is a designer section where you can see the work of design consultancies should you wish to employ them to design you a range.
Finally is Expo Riva Schuh more commonly known as GARDA, in the footwear trade because it's held nearby Lake Garda in Northern Italy. This is the main show that retailers would go to to look for factories to develop own label product for their stores. The focus used to be mainly rainboots, slippers, beach shoes and other low end goods but it has changed over the years and even my luxury retailer customers visit this show now to buy certain things. I think one of the reasons this show is so popular now is the timing, held in January and June, it comes at the very start of the buying season, whereas MICAM and GDS are now really quite late for some buyers, coming right at the end of the buying season.