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MILAN — An eye-catching new fair design enticed American buyers back to the revamped Moda Milano bridge market trade show late last month, and they were mainly searching for hand-finished garments and unusual designs.
More than 20,000 visitors entered the fair, held Sept. 27 to 30, via a walkway featuring an exhibition by New York photographer Leeta Harding, before reaching two expansive areas, one devoted to classic and the other to trendier styles.
Despite the loss of the avant-garde section White, which was set up as a separate trade fair at a different location (see sidebar), organizers said that the number of U.S. buyers had returned to pre-9/11 levels, while overall visitors increased by 9.4 percent, compared with September 2001. High-profile buyers shopping MoMi’s 290 stands included representatives from Barneys New York, Saks Fifth Avenue, Henri Bendel and 10 Corso Como in Milan. Vendors said they were satisfied with business at the show, despite the difficult international market conditions.
“The MoMi fair offers a selection of companies representing different fashion niches from classic, eveningwear and bridal to minimalist, trendsetting styles,” said Armando Mammina, president of fair-organizing body Promozione Moda Italia.
Although more than half of the stands featured classic, quality bridge apparel, the fair also hosted some edgier looks.
One innovative company in the Trend area was local maker Self Made, showing at the fair for the first time.
“We’ve seen representatives from independent stores in Greece, Spain and Italy,” said owner-designer Roberta Vincenzi, “but buyers have become more cautious. They place smaller orders and then restock midseason once they have seen what is selling. Price is important.”
A blue stretch-cotton dress with sporty ruches created by cords strung through the garment, wholesaling at about $58, and a shirtdress with a hooped skirt had created interest. Dollar figures are converted from euros at the current exchange rate.
Knitwear company She’s So, whose constructed, graphic knits sell at specialty stores including Ultimo in Chicago and A1 in New York, also attracted attention in the Trend section.
“Since everyone’s wardrobe is full of basic pieces, buyers are looking for special items that make end consumers want to buy,” said owner-designer Nicola Nicolini, who had seen buyers from Italy, the Middle East, Russia, Greece, Canada and China.
Selling well were a one-shouldered black top with a handkerchief hem constructed from a single piece of knitted viscose and washed leather, for around $122 FOB (freight-on-board), and a sleeveless white knit with an ultralow scoopneck.
Business was buzzing at the Tricot Chic stand in the “classic luxury” section, where buyers from Spain, the Middle East and Italy selected elaborate knits featuring innovative production techniques and hand-finished details. Knitwear with leather and suede trim was popular.
“We’ve seen a 120 percent improvement in sales since last summer. In 1998, our annual turnover was around $2.2 million. This year, we expect to turn over around $8.4 million,” said general manager Flavio Nava. “Buyers want different, technically innovative pieces. We have a minimum order of 70 pieces, and while price counts to a certain extent, buyers will pay for anything that is different.”
On the first two days, business was a little slower in the avant-garde Light and high-fashion Closet sections, partly because these sections had a separate entrance from the rest of the fair. But traffic improved as the fair continued.
Highlights among the 22 exhibitors at Light — many of them emerging, but still not well known — included graphic bags from Italian company Aristolasia, clean-cut pants at New Fashion Economy and handcrafted silver jewelry at Argentine company Sibilia Accessories.
Among apparel exhibitors was Camilla Lion, a new industrially produced line with hand-finished details by designer Monica Camilla Torino Lion.
“We’ve seen buyers from France, Japan, the United Emirates and Greece. They take longer to place orders and price counts more and more, but we’re reasonably pleased with the way this fair has gone,” said Lion.
Winning pieces from her aggressive-romantic line included a military coat with a tiered skirt in clay-colored grosgrain cotton wholesaling at around $155, and grosgrain cotton combat pants.
Showing at its first-ever fair was new Florentine company Golubcik, whose handmade garments in natural fabrics gained orders from buyers in Italy and Russia. Pieces included dresses and skirts woven from strands of linen-cotton wholesaling at around $140 to $190, and linen-cotton skirts with circle cutouts wholesaling at about $100.