In spite of the sudden change in weather in Germany, visitors and exhibitors were in a good mood at the GDS shoe fair (gds-online.com), which held its 101st edition in Düsseldorf from March 5 to 7.

Sunday and Monday were the strongest days for attendance. In all, 31,500 visitors from 72 countries attended the show, which was 7,000 fewer than the September 2005 edition when nearly 38,000 people attended the fair. Non-Germans accounted for 55% of attendance. There were very few Italians, however, probably because the Italian shoe fair, Micam (micamonline.com), will take place in Milan on March 16 to 19.

Frank Hartman, manager of Fair Düsseldorf, was very pleased with the attendance, especially with its internationality. “We experienced a rising number of visitors from Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Spain and Eastern Europe,” he said.

Among the 1,300 exhibitors (there were 1,500 in September 2005) opinions about the internationality of this season’s GDS varied. A few were not satisfied with the number of international visitors but most brands had very good traffic all day long. Especially busy was the “Young” area, where brands such as Converse, Skechers, Buffalo, Vagabond, Kangaroos, Dunlop, Brony and Blend exhibited.

The show’s organizers again offered an area for Newcomer Labels: “Design Attack” in Hall 13 presented itself in an extraordinary 50’s Las Vegas style, including Las Vegas shows and Elvis-inspired lounges. The area offered a mix of shoes, lifestyle products, jewelry, urban wear, accessories and lingerie from almost 100 labels such as Karin van Noort, Celebriti, Frye, Wolpertinger and Null:Zwo:Elf.

The exhibitors in this section were also very content with the traffic. “The cost benefit-calculation got best this time,” said a spokesperson from Red Wing Shoes.

The next GDS show will take place September 10 to 12, 2006.

— Melanie Gropler, German Bureau