MILAN — Reacting to the truncated, four-day week in February, Milan Fashion Week gets under way today with one of the longest calendars in years, opening with Gucci and closing with the Giorgio Armani show on Sept. 27.
To try to revise the schedule, the Italian Chamber of Fashion nixed a dozen brands from the official program, from innerwear-beachwear line Kristina Ti to designer Enrico Coveri and plus-size label Elena Mirò.
Many shows will move to spaces on streets surrounding the city’s cathedral, away from the Fashion Milano Center venue. As a result, there have been grumbling about possible traffic jams, given the location of the pedestrian-only areas designated for the shows.
Still, Mario Boselli, head of the Chamber, remained “upbeat.”
“We had to trim the schedule and redesign it,” he said, “going back to a calendar that is representative of the best, highest designer ready-to-wear.”
As for the new spaces, which range from the 13th-century Loggia dei Mercanti to the stately 17th-century Palazzo Clerici, Boselli said they’re all within “a few minutes walking distance.” That said, designers and brands such as Giorgio Armani, Versace and Salvatore Ferragamo continue to show at their own palazzos or staple locations throughout the city, like the Bourse, which will make driving a necessity.
The general economic picture this season is also vastly different from a year ago. Tourism here is brisk again, stores are opening once more and business is picking up.
According to data provided by the Chamber, the fashion industry is expected to close 2010 with sales of 60.2 billion euros, or $78.7 billion at current exchange, up 6.5 percent from last year. Exports are foreseen to rise 7.1 percent to 35.2 billion euros, or $46 billion, in 2010 compared to 2009. Boselli, however, was cautious, saying that things are picking up but “not fast enough and not in a strong enough way. The purpose of Milano Moda Donna is to accelerate and restore this recovery.”
Currency fluctuations are also a strong element to be considered, said the Chamber, which expects the American dollar to be less strong until the middle of next year.
Armando Branchini, vice president of Milan-based consulting firm Intercorporate, said luxury goods association Altagamma reported a growth of around 20 percent in the first half of the year and more gains are expected in 2011, driven especially by emerging markets.
Branchini said established markets account for about 60 to 65 percent of the luxury goods business, but claimed that, over the next 10 years, they will account for half of it, with emerging markets gaining share. Globally, sales of luxury goods totaled 160 billion euros, or $210 billion, up 10 percent this year, and Branchini estimates sales will amount to 300 billion euros, or $392 billion, in 2020.
“Companies started opening stores again in 2010 and I am sure that this will pick up significantly in 2011,” said Branchini, noting that Italian brands have also been expanding in niche countries that were once overlooked. For example, last year, Ermenegildo Zegna and Louis Vuitton opened in Mongolia, followed by Emporio Armani, Burberry, Ferragamo and Versace. “It’s important to get there as pioneers and build your brand,” said Branchini.
John Hooks, deputy chairman of Giorgio Armani SpA, said that, despite the economy, the company “always stuck to its schedule,” opening stores globally to consolidate its core markets and explore emerging ones. A store is scheduled to open in October in Mumbai, while two stores opened in Manchester, U.K., this month. “I’ve seen many more tourists in Milan, from the Middle East, China, Russia. I feel it’s busier than usual and Italy is doing well.”
He also praised the longer fashion week this season, saying it is “important for the Italian fashion system and for young designers to show properly.”
Hooks struck a positive note: “Things are getting better, there is more optimism, and we’ve seen a good first half, very different from the first half last year, but we are still feeling our way.”
Michele Norsa, chief executive officer of Salvatore Ferragamo SpA, also noted that a weaker European currency has helped boost tourism in Milan. “The fashion industry is more dynamic than others, and business has picked up faster and more solidly than expected,” he said. He also remarked on the growth rate of the Chinese market, which is “close to becoming our number one.”
Norsa said Ferragamo produces in Italy, and this continues to be a strong draw for Asian customers. “It’s very important for them — they check the labels, they want to be informed.”
Italy has been vying for stricter regulations concerning the “Made in Italy” label, and Santo Versace, chairman of the family-owned company and a member of Parliament, has drafted a regulation on the subject, the Reguzzoni-Versace law that has been approved by the Italian Parliament but stalled by the European Community.
“The European Parliament should deliberate on this,” Versace stressed. “While Russia, Japan or the U.S. each have one single president, Europe has 27, one for each country that makes up the community, and Italy as a single country cannot decide on this law,” which states that at least two steps out of four in the production chain should take place in Italy in order for a product to display a such a label.
As a manufacturing country, Italy has historically been at odds with Northern European nations, which are distributors and traders rather than producers, and import massively from lower-cost countries in Asia. As one analyst put it, “Those midtier department stores leverage on the uncertainty connected to the origin of a product,” as Europe does not demand transparency on production.
Versace said he stands behind the idea that European importers should know where merchandise comes from. “We are asking Europe to allow consumers to be informed and protected in terms of health standards, for example,” he said.
However, some believe political issues are at stake as this law is strongly supported by weavers and textile manufacturers in Northern Italy and the Lega Nord party, which has been clamoring for a federal state for years. One analyst said, “With this regulation, those who produce in China are at least obliged to buy Italian materials to obtain a ‘Made in Italy’ label, but that’s to the detriment of other steps in the production pipeline.”
Massimo Ferretti, executive chairman of Aeffe SpA, which produces and distributes collections for Alberta Ferretti, Moschino, Jean Paul Gaultier, Cacharel and Pollini, conceded a regulation on the matter would be welcome, but that a designer brand is also a guarantee for customers.
@fearofgod and @maxfieldla have teamed up on a pop-up installation. The store, located in the gallery space across from Maxfield’s Melrose Ave location, is the site of the brand’s House of God pop-up in which Fear of God founder @jerrylorenzo has created a church-inspired installation. A dozen vintage church pews sit in front of an LED screen playing 90s gospel singers in an effort to re-create an environment akin to a Southern Baptist Church, Lorenzo explained. Read more about the pop-up on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: Jennifer Johnson)
Known for his sleek, sophisticated American glamour, Norman Norell is the subject of an upcoming exhibition at @fitnyc. “Norell: Dean of American Fashion,” which runs from February 9 through April 14, will feature approximately 100 ensembles and accessories. His best work is exemplified by the designer’s glittering “mermaid” gowns frosted with thousands of hand-sewn sequins – like the one pictured. (📷: William Helburn) #wwdfashion
For pre-fall 2018, @balmain didn’t let go of the glitz. A crystal embroidered baseball jacket priced at around $40,000 hangs in the “couture” section of the brand’s first men’s pre-collection. Sporting the words “Balmain Army” across the back, the item took around two months to make. “When it was completed, it was like Christmas, it was like, ‘It’s done, it’s exactly what I wanted,’” said Balmain’s creative director @olivier_rousteing during a tour of the collection in a Paris showroom on Monday. #wwdfashion
Eighty degree temperatures and outdoor installations at the annual Art Basel Miami Beach called for bright, elevated beachwear. See more street style pictures on WWD.com. #theyarewearing #ABMB (📷: @lifeinreverie)
Following September’s emotional tribute to her brother Gianni, Donatella Versace wanted to bring the spring show’s deep sense of intimacy to her @versace_official pre-fall collection. Donatella found inspiration in Versace Palazzo in Milan and from Gianni’s opulent apartment. Archival patterns and new motifs were splashed on silk shirtdresses and fitted jersey frocks. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com. #wwdfashion
Demna Gvasalia continues to shake up the Paris fashion calendar — and experiment with new runway timetables for his @vetements_official brand. WWD has learned that Vetements plans to stage its next coed show for the fall 2018 season on January 19 during Men’s Fashion Week in the French capital. Details about the timing and venue have not been confirmed — stay tuned on WWD.com to catch the latest. #wwdnews (📷: @giovanni_giannoni_photo)
@zacposen's go-to holiday gift? Cookies! "I'll usually bake cookies and send them as a gift," said the designer, who recently released his cookbook "Cooking With Zac: Recipes from Rustic to Refined." Get the recipe for his Brown Butter-Chocolate Chip Cookies via link in bio 🍪🍪🍪 #wwdeye #cookingwithzac
For @monsemaison’s pre-fall 2018 collection, Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim honed in on the brand’s many signatures — men’s wear, which was tweaked and feminized through deconstruction, proportion play and lots of bare shoulders. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: George Chinese)
On Friday night, @yohjiyamamotoofficial received the Design for Asia Lifetime Achievement Award in Hong Kong. The 75-year-old designer has been celebrated for many years and is best known for his dark and avant-garde tailoring. “In my long career, in design, architecture, [I’ve been to] so many parties, this is the very first time that I have such a warm feeling, I really appreciate this,” Yamamoto said. #wwdfashion (📷: @dominiquemaitre)