The international footwear and leather fashion trade fair Modacalzado + Iberpiel took place from Sept. 25-27 in Madrid. About 17,000 buyers visited the fair, with 427 exhibitors showing their new collections for women, men, comfort shoes, young fashion and kids for spring/summer 2009.

It was a busy fair with intense activities all day long. Retailers were interested in fashion, color and feminine styles, including sandals, wedges and flats, and fashionable new sneaker styles, and placed direct orders. Among the companies were Spanish brands such as Pons Quintana, Margrit, Dorotea, Paco Gil, Pedro Miralles, Chie Mihara, Pura Lopez, Wonders, Salvador Sapena, Rebeca Sanver and Pikolinos, while international attendees, mainly from Italy, Brazil, Portugal and France, accounted for 20% of overall figures.

The Spanish footwear industry is in an upbeat mood, thanks in part to strong domestic demand. Spaniards purchase an average of five pairs of footwear a year, according to figures furnished by the “Report on Consumers and the Distribution of Footwear in Spain 2007,” a publication by the Technological institute of Footwear. Women ages 35 to 55 are the most enthusiastic consumers in Spain, and price, comfort, design and quality are the factors most valued by Spaniards. Dress shoes top the list of footwear most often worn by Spaniards when going out. Consumers demand, above all, models that are comfortable and practical—these characteristics being more important than the price. At the same time, young people make up the group that follows fashion most avidly, especially girls, who always have to wear the latest trends.

The Spanish Footwear Industries Federation (FICE) recently released an overview of the footwear industry. The industry´s export figures during the first half of the year 2008 reflected a moderate decline, based on an accumulated total of 49.5 million pairs of footwear sold at a value of €881.62 million. This setback with regard to the year 2007 reflects the economic downturn that has affected the traditional markets for Spanish footwear such as those of France, Germany, the UK and US.

Declining figures in these countries contrast with those of Italy, the fourth most important destination for Spanish exports, which witnessed a 2.3% increase in volume over the first few months of the year; Italy placed second in terms of value amongst Spanish footwear exports.

Meanwhile France continues to be the leading destination for Spain´s footwear products abroad. Among the countries that have recorded the strongest increases in exports are Mexico, Turkey, China and countries in Eastern Europe. With regards to imports, general figures reveal a much lower increase than that recorded in previous years. During the first half of the year, the volume of imports came to 198.68 million pairs, based on a value of €894.66 million. These figures represent an increase of around 5%, compared to the 17 % growth in 2007.

—Lisa Dartmann