Couromoda: 45 years of successBy Barbara Solini and Lorenzo Raggi Held from 15 to 18 January at São Paulo’s Expo Center Norte trade fair […]
By Barbara Solini and Lorenzo Raggi
Held from 15 to 18 January at São Paulo’s Expo Center Norte trade fair complex, the forty-fifth edition of Couromoda saw the most important players in the footwear industry reunited for the presentation of their fall/winter trends, with a nod also made to the importance of ready-to-wear fashion for the summer. More than 1,000 collections were the protagonists of an edition that gave clear signals of recovery, after 2017 having confirmed an improvement in domestic sales and above all in exports. The greatest confirmation of this recovery arrived from the visitors themselves, who packed the halls of Expo Center Norte over the four days of the fair, with a clear upswing in international visitors: “At this edition, there was once again a high number of not only Brazilian buyers, but also foreign ones who arrived from 55 different countries worldwide. It was certainly a positive edition that allowed us to properly celebrate our first 45 years of activity – confirms Francisco Santos, president and founder of Couromoda-. Between now and 5 years from now, when we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Couromoda, I believe the economic panorama will be even better and the footwear industry will have returned to its past levels of greatest achievement”. Jefferson Santos, director of Couromoda, comments: “Couromoda confirmed the climate of optimism and renewed trust in the market. We closed with a more than 70% rebooking of the exhibiting areas for 2019 and a more than 5% increase in attendance numbers. As far as exports are concerned, there was a more than respectable turnout in buyers coming from the United Arab Emirates, the USA, Europe, Asia, and America, making our event even more important. A presence that often turns into orders, not only because of the Real/US$ exchange rate, which is still rather favourable, but also and, above all, because of the quality of the production – that is to say Brazilian – which is increasingly in line with the latest fashion trends, with a suitably adjusted quality/price ratio”. Taking place in conjunction with Couromoda and its important array of bags, luggage, and costume jewellery, was São Paulo Prêt à Porter, the garment and fashion accessory fair, which is now in its eighth edition, proposing apparel in all of its many facets.
Getting back to Couromoda, it is important to underline the collaboration with Abicalçados (the Brazilian trade association of reference). Rosnei da Silva, president of Abicalçados, defines 2018 as a year “requiring creativity and innovation in order to maintain the positivity kicked off in 2017, which is capable of guaranteeing the exponential growth of Brazilian footwear, above all, in terms of exports”. With regards to Couromoda, she confirms, “This event was and will always be an extremely important point of reference for the entire footwear and leather goods supply chain. There is nothing left to say but thanks to this event, which for 45 years has brought with it the very essence and best of our production”.
Especially important at the fair was the participation of the Governor of the State of São Paulo, Geraldo Alkmin, who confirmed the positive phase the economy is going through and how “Couromoda represents a mandatory event for the development of the entire sector”. There was also the Mayor of São Paulo – João Doria – who underlined how the presence of Couromoda in São Paulo has changed the status of the city: “When Waleska and Francisco Santos decided to transfer Couromoda from Rio de Janeiro to São Paulo, it seemed to be complete and utter madness. And, instead, in less than three years, our city has been transformed into the Brazilian capital of fashion and it can’t help but be extremely grateful to this event, which has always been synonymous with efficiency, organisation, pragmatism, and a strong understanding of the market. Not only does 45 years of Couromoda – I would like to repeat –underline what is an important historical moment for this trade fair, it also demonstrates the strength and validity of Brazilian footwear”.
The next edition of Couromoda will be held from 14 to 17 January 2019, once again at the Expo Center Norte, while the second edition of Couromoda Preview will be held from 8 to 10 November 2018, with the presentation of the fall/winter pre-collections.
For more information, see: www.couromoda.com
Heitor Klein: recovery and renewed trust
In 2017, the Brazilian footwear industry returned to a trend of growth, renewing a sense of positivity and optimism also for 2018: “The good news is that the downtrend is over and we are slowly starting to recover positions: – comments Heitor Klein, CEO of Abicalçados – partly in the domestic market and, above all, in international ones, where we recorded a +9.3% increase in exports in 2017, for a total of 1.09 billion dollars”. An important result that Brazilian companies have achieved notwithstanding the disadvantage of the “custo Brazil”, or rather the increased costs associated with logistics, the fiscal system, and bureaucracy, which have made it expensive to produce in Brazil with a product that is less competitive. So, we ask what the most dynamic markets for Brazilian footwear are: “Certainly Latin America, while we are losing some shares in the USA. On the other hand, we are well-positioned in Europe and we have good possible opportunities in Russia and the United Arab Emirates. Moreover, we do not forget that Brazilian footwear is exported to more than 150 countries worldwide”.
What could contribute to a greater acceleration in growth for Brazilian footwear?: “The prerequisite is without a doubt growth in the domestic market: today there is greater confidence, but there are still too many question marks in Brazil: a year with too many public holidays, the world soccer cup, which in our country, blocks the entire country, and if that weren’t enough, we also have the presidential elections… all factors that could influence commerce in an unpredictable way”.
Roberta Ramos: exports under the spotlight
Columbia and the USA in America, France and the UK in Europe, without forgetting about China: these are the targets of the 2018 promotional campaign for Brazilian footwear. We speak of it with Roberta Ramos, project manager of Abicalçados: “For all intents, they are the same target markets identified last year together with APEX, the Brazilian governmental agency for foreign trade. For each one of them, we have different strategies: in Columbia, we will set up a showroom both in Cali and in Medellin, in the USA, we will participate in FN Platform, and in February, we will hold an event in New York where we will invite emerging designers to present their products. Finally, we will participate in the Vogue party, with our very own lounge area”.
In France and in the UK, research missions aimed at determining the best platforms for presenting Brazilian products will be organised: “France, in particular, is a complex market; we are nevertheless encouraged by the success achieved by some brands already working with quite good results in this market”.
China represents the biggest challenge: in light of the success of e-commerce in this country, Abicalçados is identifying what is the best platform for reinforcing the Brazilian presence in this sector. “There will be a need to positively build up the perception of Brazilian footwear in a market that is very far away not only geographically, but also in terms of lifestyle and culture. – explains Roberta Ramos – We have thought of setting up a pop-up store in Beijing, where the public can try some of the models on in person and then reserve them from the online platform. We will also invite a special celebrity guest to help create a stir around the event”.
What about historic fairs? “Naturally we will renew our participation in events like Micam and Expo Riva Schuh, which remain two of the main points of reference in reinforcing our export strategy in the best way possible”.
São Paulo Prêt à Porter
Some highlights from the event dedicated to apparel and held in conjunction with Couromoda.
The opinion of international buyers
Selection, quality, fashion and comfort, and service: these are the main requirements that international buyers look for and find at Couromoda. Reconfirming it is Catherine Ocampo from the Columbian group, JCT Empresarial, owning numerous stores and a factory in Cali, Columbia, who was invited to the fair thanks to the Projeto Comprador Vip financed by Apex and organised by Abicalçados: “At the fair, I saw trends, raw materials and designs in footwear that might be placed in our store windows next season. Moreover, after having worked with Brazilian brands in the past, I believe there is a good possibility of forging new partnerships with at least two of the companies we met up with at the fair”. Victor Leon Sterimberg from Sibony, who is also a guest of the Projeto comprador, speaks of how Couromoda has an excellent selection with a wide variety of proposals: “For me, it is an extremely interesting event. As the owner of a dozen or so stores in Bogotà with a selection of men’s and women’s footwear, here I discovered excellent products, both in terms of design and technology, with special attention to comfort”.
Couromoda, in fact, is also of interest for its comfort footwear: Luis Alberto Madrigal Viquez and Daisy Al Pizar (Costarica) confirms this: “Comfort is one of the most important requirements of our clientele, and here at the fair, we noticed a strong focus on this productive segment. The price of the products is also very competitive and accompanied by a good sales service”.
Adriana Manzano Noguera, from the Mario Hernandez group (Columbia), who has participated in Couromoda for a number of years, speaks of how the selection is increasingly qualified: “Our group counts 33 stores between Columbia, Venezuela, and Peru, offering both leather goods and shoes. At Couromoda, we look for producers who guarantee a high level of manufacturing, with quality materials and competitive conditions. As the years go by, Brazilian companies have passed from being a regional reality to a reality that has completely opened itself up to the world, insomuch that today interacting and working with them is easy and productive.
Qualified companies and products are also the main reason William Pereyra di Lazzos (Peru) attends the event in São Paulo: “The shoes are increasingly attractive, with an increasingly fashionable and comfortable design. By now many companies have become international in their scope, thus becoming also partners to quality”.
From real estate to retail, the Sobha group in Dubai (United Arab Emirates) came to Brazil looking for partnerships and new brands: “We are one of the most important real estate firms in the world –explains Radha Nair Kollaikal – and we have now decided to break into the world of retail, starting with around fifty stores between 80 and 100 net square meters. The first country where we decided to go buy shoes is Brazil: at Couromoda, we find many brands with great potential for the development of our business”. Last, but not least, we speak with the American, Peter Mangione, who is a veteran of the event: “For many years we have participated in Couromoda and I believe that the Brazilian product is definitely in line with international demands, not only for its fashion content, but also for its correct quality/price ratio”.
45 years are worthy of celebration
An evening of great revelry for Couromoda’s 45th anniversary: exhibitors, the press, authorities, and friends gathered around Francisco Santos who, after having thanked everyone present, decided to speak of Couromoda’s past protagonists, starting with Jeferson and Tomas Santos: “In 1973, Couromoda was first conceived with the intent of providing step-by-step support to the Brazilian footwear industry in the domestic and foreign markets. It was a moment in which the sector was demanding substantial changes in productive processes and sales strategies, which up until that moment, had been based on the visits of retailers and importers to factories.
We thought the moment had arrived for showing greater aggressiveness in the market, by creating a meeting place between buyers and manufacturers. We began in Rio de Janeiro, and soon transferred Couromoda to São Paulo, where today we have come together to celebrate 45 years of activity. What else can I say? It was demanding, with a few difficulties along the way, but absolutely marvellous!”