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Italy’s Mipel Leather Trade Show Retreats Online

Amid continued coronavirus concerns, some of Italy’s industry events are being pushed back online.

After a fruitful fall for the nation’s materials trade shows, which returned in person for a collective showing outside of Milan in September, Mipel, an event serving the leather goods industry, has decided to go virtual this month.

Mipel’s digital show, which kicked off on Tuesday, will run exclusively online through mid-July, organizers said. The event will provide brands with tools for storytelling and exposition, like 360-degree virtual showrooms, video presentations and product photos, and allow them to interface with buyers through the web-based portal.

The event is being promoted by Assopellettieri, a trade association member of Confindustria Moda, the Italian federation for textile, fashion and accessories manufacturers, and was organized with the support of Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and the Italian Trade Agency, and the sponsorship of the Municipality of Milan.

“The new Mipel platform will therefore make it possible to immerse oneself in an all-digital world, bearing in mind the real needs of operators in the sector and providing them with the tools to satisfy them even without being physically present at the event,” organizers said. Buyers can discover new brands, make contact, network and place orders through the platform “just like in a physical fair,” they added.

The show’s first two days will be rich in virtual content like webinars and interviews with industry leaders, curated by American journalist Alan Friedman and Armando Branchini, former vice president of Italian luxury brands committee Altagamma Foundation. Topics will focus on issues affecting Italian leather goods like sustainability, market trends and retail transformation.

Mipel promises robust programming and an analogous experience for buyers and sellers over the coming months, but like Italy’s other trade event organizers, it had been hoping for a different outcome.

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Following a season of canceled shows last spring, more than 16,000 attendees convened in September at the Fiera Milana Rho for an outdoor event that combined five events into one four-day expo. The #Strongertogether event, deemed a success by Mipel and its partner organizers including Micam Milano, Homi Fashion & Jewels Exhibition, TheOneMilano and Lineapelle, was due to be replicated this week.

Unfortunately, though, Europe’s continued battle with Covid-19 stymied those plans. A third wave of the virus is pummeling countries like Germany, France and Italy, with new variants gathering steam. On Tuesday, Italy reported 13,805 new confirmed cases and a seven-day average of 21,684—the highest average weekly rate since early December.

And while Washington’s vaccination campaign plugs along at a vigorous pace—with a number of U.S. states opening up vaccine eligibility to the entirety of their adult populations in the coming weeks—many E.U. countries face supply problems and delayed shipments.

Unlike its European counterparts, U.S. trade shows stand to benefit from the efficiency of the country-wide rollout. Informa Markets ushered in the return of in-person trade events with a popup show in February at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, and has announced plans to resume its Magic apparel, footwear and sourcing trade show in Las Vegas in August. Meanwhile, Colorado’s Outdoor Retailer will resume its in-person event, held at the Denver Convention Center, on Aug. 10-12, and men’s and women’s apparel shows Liberty Fairs and Cabana, which usually show in New York and Las Vegas, will host events this summer at the Miami Beach Convention Center in Florida on July 10-12.