FLORENCE — Trade show organizer Pitti recruited skateboarders, spray painters and break-dancers to inaugurate the first edition of its streetwear and denim fair, Welcome to My House.
Dozens of women's and men's collections seeking to broaden their European distribution, including Ecko Unltd., Enyce, Tokidoki and Ezekiel, along with a few emerging European players, displayed embroidered denim, graphic-printed hoodies and funky boardshort s. Stazione Leopolda hosted Welcome to My House, which ran concurrently with the men's event Pitti Immagine Uomo and ended its four-day run Jan. 14.
"I've never seen pure streetwear like this," said Umberto Alessandrini, an Italian distributor for Los Angeles-based label Tokidoki, which just inked a production and distribution deal with Italian firm Fornari in a bid to expand internationally.
Thirty-nine brands were at the fair, although not all of these labels presented full-fledged collections. Some stands featured little more than a smattering of products and promotional items like stickers.
Livio Travasoni, sales and marketing director for Slam Jam, an Italian distributor for brands such as Carhartt, Stussy, Paul Frank and Zoo York, thought Welcome to My House could become viable if it stays "underground" and doesn't grow too big and too commercial.
"This show serves a purpose. People need to understand what streetwear is and that there's a business behind it," he said, noting that the Italian market for street apparel and accessories is especially fertile for growth, worth an estimated 500 million euros, or about $600 million.
At Tokidoki's stand, the brand's signature Japanese anime-style characters adorned a variety of items, including shrunken Ts, a wide selection of vinyl toys, charms and jewelry and LeSportsac bags.
"A clothing retailer might traditionally just take up the shirts and jeans, but we are pushing the other items," said Ivan Arnold, who created Tokidoki with his wife and Hard Candy Cosmetics co-founder, Pooneh Mohajer.
Brands like Ezekiel and Insight offered plenty of other girly looks with a surfer influence. Ezekiel's stand featured a series of mix-and-match pieces like tight, bottom-baring shorts, floral skirts, track jackets and tops featuring eyelet lace trim. Australia-based Insight is hoping that its unusual color palette will convince beach babes to buy pistachio green cropped jeans, a violet knit poncho or a melon-hued sweatshirt.Marc Ecko is trying to win over street-smart girls and young women with his Ecko Red line, featuring T-shirts bearing old school hip-hop imagery, baggy cargo pants, Eighties-style bomber jackets and pullovers in cotton piqué. The brand opened a freestanding concept store in Milan late last year and it counts some 250 sales points throughout Italy.
Serena Salvucci, Ecko Unltd.'s Italian market fond of the brand, and streetwear in general, because "it's a basic sort of uniform. It shows that you are a part of a group."
For some prospective buyers, that repetitive sameness was precisely the problem at Welcome to My House.
"I wanted to find more of a new language here. It seems like the same graphics are repeated," said Salvatore Melita, 29, who is looking to open a store in Sicily with his business partner, Luigi Orofino. "They aren't risking with their projects. They are just going with the safe approach to be commercial."
The second edition of the fair will be held concurrently with the next Pitti, June 21-24.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast