By  on May 15, 2013

MILAN — Faced with continued economic struggles in Europe, Pitti Uomo is building on its strong relationship with international department stores.

At the next edition of the men’s trade show, slated for June 18 to 21 in Florence, Saks Fifth Avenue will showcase its men’s collection for wholesale distribution for the first time. Saks Fifth Avenue New York, which was launched in 2009 as a private brand called the Saks Fifth Avenue Men’s Collection, is manufactured in Italy and will be offered to stores outside the U.S.

In addition, Pitti Uomo’s organizers have signed a two-year agreement with Japanese department store Isetan where customers at its Shinjuku store in Tokyo will be given the chance from June 26 to July 16 to preorder spring product selected by the department store’s buyers at the fair.

Due to the difficult economic climate in Europe, this focus on internationalization is a smart choice for Italian fashion companies, Pitti Immagine president Gaetano Marzotto said Tuesday.

“Pitti aims to affirm its role as a bridge between small- and middle-sized companies and the big foreign markets,” he said, noting that the powerful fashion groups bring in 80 percent of their revenues selling directly to consumers. “Of course, this is impossible for smaller companies. That’s why we are trying to put them in contact with international landlords who control the most important shopping malls in the world.”

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According to data provided by the Italian fashion and textile consortium SMI Sistema Moda Italia, in the first quarter of 2013, sales of fashion and textile products nationally dropped 2 percent from the prior year, but exports were up 1.2 percent.

Marzotto said that “2012 closed with Southern Europe in crisis. Luckily, in the first months of the year, the European Central Bank expressed confidence in the markets and the U.S., the Far East and Germany performed very well.”

To catch the attention of international buyers, this season Pitti Uomo will focus on research and innovation, hosting 1,010 brands, with 36.6 percent of them coming from outside Italy.

Among them, Japanese men’s wear label Kolor, this season’s guest designer at Pitti Uomo, will unveil its spring 2014 collection with a runway show on June 20 at 8:30 p.m. at Florence’s Sferisterio del Parco delle Cascine, a space built in 1893 for ancient ball games.

In addition, Adidas will present a capsule collection designed by Tom Dixon; Canadian luxury label Les Essentiels de La Vie will show its new accessories range in a garden house at the fair’s main playground Fortezza; California-based swimwear brand Quiksilver will launch the Quiksilver Original Boardshorts project; Killer Loop will unveil its new “Designed to Capture the Extreme” collection of high-tech outerwear inspired by action sports filmmakers and photographers, and U.S. Polo Association will showcase the spring 2014 collection with a presentation to the tune of a live performance of Skunk Anansie’s leader, Skin.

Teaming up with Istanbul Fashion Week, Pitti will also feature Turkey as the guest nation in June — about 10 Turkish men’s and women’s designers will unveil their collections at the Sala della Scherma.

Despite the focus on international labels, Pitti Uomo will continue to showcase the best of Made in Italy as well. This season, Pitti Italics, the program supporting young labels manufacturing their collections in Italy, will present the men’s wear lines of booming contemporary brand MSGM, designed by Massimo Giorgetti, who will unveil the collection with an event on June 19 at Florence’s Stazione Leopolda, and Stella Jean, the namesake line of the Rome-based designer, on June 20.

At the fair’s Sala Ottagonale, Biella-based Lanificio F.lli Cerruti dal 1881 will present Parcour, a car prototype with merino wool interiors realized in collaboration with Italdesign Giugiaro and The Woolmark Co. The company will also unveil a limited-edition collection of jackets designed by Nino Cerruti’s son Julian, the creative mind behind luxury niche men’s wear label Natural Born Elegance.

The 12th edition of Pitti W, the women’s wear trade show taking place at the same time as Pitti Uomo, will be staged inside the Fortezza da Basso. Paris-based label Damir Doma will present its resort collection during an event on June 19 at the Giardini Corsini al Prato in Florence. The same night, Colombian designer Edgardo Osorio will organize an event to show the latest collection of its high-end women’s footwear label Aquazzura.

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