By  on May 23, 2007

MILAN — Dynamic trade exhibitions should reflect brisk business — and vice versa. For this reason, trade fair organizers are investing in restyling, repositioning booths and updating show spaces to keep current with contemporary design and avoid sameness.

In addition, collateral events are increasingly considered a must to add energy to trade fairs. "We are always looking for initiatives that will make Unica a must-see, an event impossible to miss, both at the fairgrounds and outside in the city," said Paolo Zegna, president of textile show Milano Unica. Zegna said the layout will change for the Sept. 11 to 14 edition, and that the women's exhibitions will be repositioned, with Moda In, Prato Expo and Idea Como on the top floor, and with more focus on fashion trends.

"Exhibitors and visitors are always looking for novelty, and we feel there is an increased attention to women's fashion," said Zegna. "As organizers, we must know how to pick up on cues, follow with concrete projects and avoid inactivity."

Zegna compared the textile industry to a hare, as it needs to "run faster and be one lap ahead" to defend its role as a leader, competing with countries such as China and India. "We must always aim at the top and find new ways to be vital — a vivacity exemplified by an equally vital trade fair," said Zegna.

Cirillo Marcolin, president of Mido, agreed. "We always need to renew ourselves to ensure an updated service and meet expectations. Companies change and Mido needs to, as well," said Marcolin. Mido, which ran May 4 to 7, moved to the new Rho-Pero fairgrounds this year, although there was no immediate need for the change of venue. "We could have remained in town for a few more years, but we feel the Rho-Pero space is more modern, the right structure that pushes exhibitors to renew themselves and help convey a new image of Mido," said Marcolin.

The new fairgrounds, located about a half hour subway ride outside of Milan, were designed by Massimiliano Fuksas and inaugurated in 2005. Marcolin said the new location allows a 15 percent increase in show space per exhibitor.Conversely, Milano Vende Moda organizers plan to remain in town in order to "simplify" their visitors' lives. "MVM [running Sept. 27 to 30 at Fieramilanocity] is held during Milan Fashion Week, and our being close to the city center and to the shows allows our visitors to also attend those events," said Emanuela Forlin, manager of MVM fair organizer Expocts. "Also, our dimensions do not oblige us to choose a larger venue, such as the Rho-Pero fairgrounds."

While remaining at the old Milan fairgrounds, MVM is working on restyling its exhibition space with "more luxurious stands," according to Forlin, and a "guided, not forced route." Also, in addition to a number of promotional activities, organizers will schedule more runway shows, which Forlin said have been "very successful." The plus-size section of the exhibition, launched in September, will continue, with an increased focus on materials, cuts, shapes and innovation. "It's giving us enormous satisfaction," said Forlin.

Innovation is also a top priority for Pitti Immagine, which, in addition to Pitti Immagine Uomo, Pitti Bimbo, Pitti Filati, and Pitti Immagine Fragranze, now controls the management of several trade fairs from organizer Efima, including niche apparel shows Neozone, Cloudnine and ModaPrima. Raffaello Napoleone, chief executive officer of Pitti Immagine, said the organization has always looked for "new spaces with a special identity," and that this year, Pitti Uomo will expand its selection of locations with a new venue in the former customs zone close to the Fortezza da Basso, where Pitti Uomo will run June 20 to 23.

The new space will showcase all of Diesel's collections throughout Pitti Uomo, following a musical event on June 21 there. As reported, Diesel will be Pitti Uomo's special guest this summer, showing both its men's and women's collections. Ermanno Scervino also is expected to show both its men's and pre-spring women's collections in a runway show this season. Couturier Roberto Capucci will donate his collection to the city of Florence, and a preview of the exhibition that will open in the fall will be unveiled during Pitti Uomo. As reported, while Pitti Uomo will run as slated, organizers behind the Paris fall couture shows and the Milan and Paris men's spring collections are moving up their respective fashion weeks to accommodate Valentino's 45th anniversary celebrations July 6 to 8 in Rome.Napoleone said children's wear fair Pitti Bimbo, held in Florence June 29 to July 1, "promises to be a very beautiful and dynamic" show, with new entries such as Alberta Ferretti and Ermanno Scervino, and a debut of Chloé and Missoni on the runway. Napoleone said Pitti Bimbo will showcase 526 brands and that he expected 7,900 visitors.

The first meeting of national knitters will be held during yarns exhibition Pitti Filati, running July 4 to 6.

Pitti Immagine is currently busy restructuring ModaPrima, niche apparel shows Neozone and Touch and accessories fair Cloudnine. Regarding ModaPrima, running May 27 to 29 and Nov. 25 to 27, Napoleone said Pitti is raising the level of exhibitors. Napoleone was pleased to say that ModaPrima in November registered a 35 percent increase in visitors from the previous edition, in particular from countries such as Japan, Turkey and Russia. Napoleone said he was expecting delegations from Canada, the U.S., Northern Europe and Russia to attend the May edition.

Napoleone said the organization also is "reinventing" the Milan-based shows, Cloudnine, Neozone and Touch, now that White is back in the hands of its founder and organizer, Massimiliano Bizzi. "We've had a very strong and positive feedback from the market, with a 30 percent increase in visitors in March," said Napoleone.

Bizzi said he plans to maintain the high-end format at White, with brands such as Balenciaga and Martin Margiela. Bizzi pointed to research as a priority, as well as the need to find new brands and fashion from outside Italy. In particular, Bizzi mentioned the U.S. and Japan as sources of novelty. The organizer also said he was working with foreign buyers, tempting them into coming to Milan so that they wouldn't skip the city in favor of Paris. Bizzi said White moved away from Pitti Immagine in December to be more independent, dynamic and fast. "A smaller group can create personal relationships with designers," said Bizzi.

Giorgio Cannara, president of AIMPES, the Italian leather goods association that organizes accessories fair Mipel, running Sept. 20 to 23, concurrent with footwear show Micam, said he was discussing with members of the association the possibility to extend opening hours until late evening on at least one day."This would help visitors make the most of their trip, and those that attend or show at Micam would have a chance to take a look at Mipel, too," said Cannara, who added Mipel also will offer a chance for new brands and designers to test the waters with a dedicated area.

Cannara voiced his displeasure with MVM showing later in the month,

during Milan Fashion Week, after a test last year to coincide with Mipel and Micam. "It's an absurd decision. In the spring, fashion shows first, followed by accessories, while in September, it's the other way around. It's not functional and creates technical problems," said Cannara.

Massimo Toni, business development manager of Rimini Fiera, which is organizing the second edition of ready-to-wear and accessories show First Alternative, said he is fine-tuning the selection of exhibitors and promoting the show to expand its visibility. "We have to improve the quality of our exhibitors, as it was not entirely precise last time, while growing the number from 115 to about 130 or 150," said Toni. First Alternative will be held June 30 to July 2 in the Adriatic town of Rimini, and this time also will include beachwear. Taking advantage of the location, known for it stretches of sandy beaches, organizers are planning events to be held outdoors, as well. Visitors last season totaled 4,000, and Toni said he hoped to double that figure by eliminating the entrance fee.

Rimini Fiera also is organizing Denim Expo, Italy's first denim-only trade fair, slated to run June 14 to 16. Exhibitors will represent the entire production cycle, from fabric and component suppliers to makers of the final goods. "There is a very strong interest in the fair and it responds to a specific market request," said Toni, adding that Martelli, which treats and washes denim for a plethora of fashion designers, as well as components firms Okinawa, Cobra and YKK Group, had confirmed its presence. "Industrial suppliers are already on board. For brands, it might take a little longer, but the first edition is only a seed for the future," said Toni.

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