Arnd Hinrich Kappe, ILM Offenbach Chief Manager

We talked with Arnd Hinrich Kappe, Chief Manager of the exhibition about their plans to bounce back from the September 2020 cancellation and about the future edition from April 10th to 12th 2021.

In your opinion, how has cancellation of the 2020 September edition impacted your exhibitors and ILM in general?
The lockdown order taken out by the German authorities of course was a practical nightmare for us: coming down just a week before the fair dates, it created confusion and uncertainty. Of course we tried to help our exhibitors and their buyers the best we could and naturally we started planning right away a safe new edition for the following year. We already had lots of bookings right after the cancellation of the September one: our exhibitors have full faith in us and in the recovery of the market.

How is the 2021 edition's planning going?
At the moment we are preparing all the safety plans and measures you can foresee for the fairgrounds, from bigger open booths to larger trend areas with new concept paths for our Halls, and so on. Moreover, along with our usual successful formula and our visitor's favourite 'Green Area' with the sustainability proposals, there is a big piece of news for next year: in synergy with the new Fashion Week that will be taking place in Frankfurt Am Mein, noted brands in the shoe industry will present their collections together with ILM exhibitors in a novel trade fair design concept named "Xtra Order Days". An exclusive shuttle service will connect our exhibition in Offenbach with the fashion event in Frankfurt which is just an half hour away. An attractive program will include digital highlights and exciting lectures to complete the event. During talks and discussions, specialists will provide insights into their subject across all industries and offer practical inspirations for a total look overview.

ILM 2021: which are your hopes and expectations?
The new fashion category shoes and the event in Frankfurt offer new customer potential for sure. However I expect it will be a "slower" edition, if you know what I mean. We are totally an international fair, but given the travel restrictions that could be in place at the moment that the fair will open, it will probably a more European exhibition compared to the last ones.

How do you expect the leather goods sector to evolve in 2021? Do you see any signs of recover?
I have to say I am hopeful. I talked to a lot producers and company owners and they told me it is slowly getting better. We have to adapt to this new normal. There will probably be a sort of "cleaning" of the market: some already struggling brands will cease to exist while some others will expand. The key will be quality and digitalisation. In regards to ILM, as already did in March 2020, we will have streaming for events and catwalks and we already have an innovative platform in place that will allow smooth and successful contacts between exhibitors and buyers, not only to acquire simple contact infos but also to see the collections in real time as if you are at the fair, chat to the exhibitors and get information/advice about the collections. The 'face to face' will not disappear, it will have to be adjusted for the time being. Nothing beats the social interactions when visiting an exhibition and the touch & feel you can experience with the products.