Pitti 100 injects new energy into the market
How was this season's Pitti Uomo? "Very good! Better than expected, whether in terms of attendance, mood or international buyers," according to Raffaele Napoleone. The event's president was visibly relieved on the last day of the gathering, which, as well as the menswear trade show, also hosted Pitti Bimbo and Filati, dedicated to childrenswear and yarn, respectively. Returning to a physical format for this summer season was a gamble, but the turnout and atmosphere at the event appear to suggest that it has paid off for the organisers.
Reduced to three days, rather than its standard four, and welcoming only a third of its usual exhibitors – 400 versus 1,200 – the Italian menswear trade fair, which presented collections for Spring/Summer 2022, couldn't exactly hold out on a miracle. "It was a muted edition, but it was still a major event that was constantly in the spotlight. It's a start. The important thing was to meet back up with peers from the sector," said Antonio Carnevale, head of the Twentyone group.
According to the first estimates published by Pitti Immagine on Friday evening, Pitti Filati attracted 1,700 buyers and industry players, while Pitti Uomo and Pitti Bimbo's visitors totalled 6,000, including 4,000 buyers, just under 30% of which came from abroad. As well as European nations, such as Germany, France, Switzerland, Spain, Austria, the Netherlands, Belgium, Russia, Poland, Greece and Portugal, more distant countries, such as Canada and Turkey, were also present. More than 700 journalists, 300 of whom were international, were accredited for the event.
"It was worth coming, at least to start meeting up with all our collaborators and agents again, to touch the samples, talk and share," commented a sales representative at Artcrafts International, which distributes Crocs, among other brands, in Italy. The rep echoed the same sentiment as most who attended the event, hosted in the Fortezza da Basso. Many highlighted the reduced presence of international buyers and said that the last day had been very flat, while the first and especially the second had seen a strong turnout.
Brands making their Pitti debut were able to "make a series of very interesting contacts," as explained by Gianluca Brozzetti, who launched the Broz & Broz men's swimwear brand with his son in 2017. In a more open and relaxed atmosphere, with spacious and particularly meticulous stalls, certain connections were easier to make. A small sneaker start-up, for example, was able to capture the attention of a large house, while emerging designer brands benefitted from enhanced press attention.
"In fact, there wasn't the usual frenzy. So we had qualitative visits, which would not have happened under normal circumstances," noted Pierre-Yves Bomey, founder of French brand Jagvi. "It's much more spacious and people have more time, because there are fewer brands. So we've made some interesting contacts, but too few," he continued.
For the brands who were counting on Pitti to relaunch their businesses, however, the disappointment was palpable. "In terms of attendance, we've never seen anything like it! On this last day, it's been like a desert. We've really had very few clients and we've seen practically no foreigners," they complained at French footwear brand Kleman. "It's true that we haven't been out in a year. We needed this to test the waters, to get back into gear," they nonetheless conceded.
Napoleone pointed out, not without a certain pride, that companies which had said "no" to the trade fair at first had ultimately secured significant orders, including with new clients. "We had buyers from countries that we no longer expected. All of the most important American brands were there. The mood was, in general, very positive. Some exhibitors really worked a lot. It wasn't a trade fair that was solely focused on communication. There was real business too," he emphasised, before concluding, "we wanted to give a signal of confidence and optimism for the future."
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