Blog 203 I talked about when My Private Label journey begins. In this blog I want to talk about my first Micam shoe show trip.
The Micam shoe show is one of the largest in the world which is held usually in March and again in September. My goal for this show was to see if we could find factories that could do product for us but in smaller minimum quantities. Our challenge was to reduce the quantities from 180 per color to as low as possible. In the branded world a size run in quantities of 180 per color is usually a top shoe. We would have to do that in all colors not just black. Having a brand that is relatively new on the market rarely sells those types of numbers.
We had a few brands we would be trying to find factories for out of this trip. Gabriella Rocha our Juniors brand, Lumiani which was our Made in Italy brand and Vigotti and Type Z our upper end brands more on the fashion side. Rsvp and Fitzwell were our number one and two brands but bought mostly out of China with Gabriella Rocha third place. This would be a good opportunity to find junior type footwear here. Smaller quantities in the other two upper end brands would also be big.
Whenever we would travel Aaron and I ended up being roommates. In NYC we usually had nice rooms at the Hilton or Sheraton and queen size beds. We Arrive at the airport in Milan Italy and have to take a car to our hotel. It was an hour away so the cost was close to $100. We all tried to share a minivan but had to take a two because we had so many people on this trip.
We get to the Hotel and it was dimly lit with velvet furniture in the lobby. The bar area seemed like it would be nice to chill out after a long day. With the time change we all were pretty wiped out but the trick would be to try and stay upas long as would could so we could sleep through the night and get up early in the morning.
Aaron and I get to our room and there are two twin beds really close to each other. This is going to be interesting we thought. Again more velvet furniture and a super small room. The toilet in the bathroom was a bidet which I’ve never experienced before. Lets say that was equally interesting…
Aaron and decide to walk around town and go to the Duomo which was a large cathedral. It was spectacular. Large spires lined the top with a very gothic feel to it. The stained glass was so beautiful. We wanted to go to the top but didn’t have time, as we were to meet everyone for dinner, and we wanted to check out more of the city.
We saw Via Della Spiga Street which was the inspiration for the brand Via Spiga. It was a very fashionable area of Milan where all the top fashion stores were in a quadrant like area or “Quadrilatero della Moda” as it was called in Milan. We wanted to see the Last supper painting, which was in town, but you had to get tickets way ahead of time so next trip we would make sure to do that.
The shopping hub had amazing stores, so we spent most of our time looking around and finally decided to grab a beer at a café and people watch before dinner. So many of the gents were wearing red or orange pants, we felt like tourists for sure. We met up with everyone later and had a nice dinner and enjoyed the delicious Italian cuisine. The fish was amazing, and the pizza was the thin crust type.
We all were tired, so we called it an early evening and didn’t get too crazy that night. It was a beautiful evening, and we enjoyed the short walk home to our hotel. A few of us had a drink at the bar in the hotel then headed up to our rooms. The next morning, we enjoyed a buffet style breakfast which was delicious and then headed to the subway.
It was a little stressful figuring out how to get to the show. We had to get our subway passes then take the train to the convention center. The subway was so packed it was ridiculous. Picture a can of sardines,it was that packed. Good thing I was tall. For all the times I took the subway in NYC this was it on steroids. I was so glad when we got off.
There was a long walk to the show and many stairs that we would have to climb with posters of brands that were at the show lining the walls. It was amazing, and the venue was really nicely put together. I was already impressed, and we haven’t even seen the first hall yet. When we finally got there, it was a “Sea of shoe brands”. So many to see it was mind boggling. Everything was so well put together and there were also amazing restaurants to choose from as well. Certainly, better than the hotdogs or burgers at WSA. I enjoyed the food and there was so much to choose from. There also was an area in which there was nude ladies that were body painted dancing on stage. You certainly didn’t see that at WSA!
We found some really cool sources for Gabriella Rocha and when our agent met up with us, we talked to the supplier. I told her we needed smaller minimums. The team thought I was crazy for asking because we never had luck so far. “Doesn’t hurt to ask” was my motto. Our agent Beatrice told me “500 Mike”. I’m like that’s more than we had before. “No No Mike 500 for the entire order, you can write 18’s per color if you want to”. Amazing we just paid for our trip, mission accomplished.
We found that a lot of the booths were willing to work with us in this way. I was jazzed so far. Funny story, Aaron and I were walking together, and we saw a designer in one of the booths and he was picking out items. We went over and said hello to him, he was visibly uncomfortable. And all this time we thought he came up with the designs… We circled back later and asked them if we could do private label and they said no, he had the exclusive rights in the USA.
It was a very long day, and most people were going their separate ways tonight, so Aaron and I decided to explore for restaurants. We ended up at this place where the doorway wasn’t built with a guy 6’4” in mind. The food looked incredible though and the waiter couldn’t understand why we wanted to split our plates with different types of food. “That is not possible” he would say. You can’t mix the food. We just wanted to experience different types of food, but this obviously wasn’t the place to do that.
Funny thing was I ran into my friend Rick at the show. He wanted to walk the show with me so we did a few booths but I had to get back to my group. Over the next several years we would find our selves bumping into each other all over the world at times. Small world.
The next day we would take a train to Florence to meet up with our agent to show us factories there. The Private label team and I were going as well as Aaron. So far this was an incredible trip.
SIZES... SIZES... SIZES... SIZES...
…just sharing my story and tips from my footwear career.
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