By  on March 24, 2010

MILAN — The overall sentiment was tepid at the recent round of trade shows here.

Despite gearing up for the events with more space, new collections and young designers, some organizers — particularly among the apparel shows — confirmed a downtick in buyers’ attendance from the previous season. Accessories venues, however, saw better crowds and some of those exhibitors registered positive business.

The shows took place between Feb. 26 and March 2. The second edition of MI Milano ready-to-wear, held at Fieramilanocity, attracted 7,223 buyers, or about 14 percent less than its debut, to see 215 collections. On a positive note, organizers reported a return of buyers from Japan, Korea and Russia and a good number of visitors from Europe.

Highlights at MI Milano included Cividini Twin’s new twinset concept of coordinated sneakers and sweaters. The firm made the sneakers’ uppers of the same wool and cashmere yarns it traditionally uses for sweaters. “Orders were sluggish, with the exception of increased interest from the U.S.,” said Cividini Twin owner Piero Cividini. The twinsets are available in mélange and bright colors.

Frei Und Apple, an Italian brand, showcased its collection in the hot house booth, a space dedicated to young designers. A long sweater with Irish mantra prints was the brand’s new look for fall.

Young accessories designers Fabio Sasso and Juan Caro of Leit Motiv showed scarves and pendants that contain old round doilies. They also presented their line at the Touch show in the Nhow hotel in Milan’s Tortona area.

Shuella, an American firm, chose accessories space Cloudnine to unveil its glam shoe cover, the “shoe umbrella.” Shaped to cover high heels, the initial boot collection was intended for women, although men showed interest in the product, too, said a spokeswoman. The covers retail from around 40 euros, or about $55 at current exchange, in black, green, pink and yellow. She added that the company “received fewer orders than expected,” but noted the fair was productive for brand building.

Elsewhere at Cloudnine, Antares Venezia, maker ofMurano glass jewelry, introduced Ninfea, a bright collection named after the flower dear to Impressionist Claude Monet.

Italian luxury bag maker Clarmonia displayed its first collection of women’s bags made by Tuscan artisans. Clarmonia’s accessories are inspired by the gold patterns of Venice’s masks and palaces. The firm’s Mirandolina leather and silk shoppers start at 490 euros, or $666 retail. Clarmonia received orders from Japan, Russia and the United Arab Emirates, among others, said a spokeswoman.

Pam & Arch London generated buzz at Neozone with colorful printed pieces, especially printed oversize wool sweaters inspiredby “Alice in Wonderland.”

“The first day [of the show], we had already registered 420 visitors and 100 orders,” said the company’s commercial coordinator, Francesco Pezzoli.

Buyer attendance rose 14.5 percent from last winter’s edition to 6,500 at Touch, Neozone and Cloudnine, organized by Pitti Immagine. The number of domestic and foreign visitors was up year-over-year, with organizers noticing more than twice the number of U.S. visitors. “An increase in the number of capsule collections helped,” said Raffaello Napoleone, chief executive of Pitti Immagine.

White, organized by M.Seventy, was held as usual at Superstudio Più and, additionally, at a former Ansaldo factory space. The latest edition brought together 350 exhibitors amid a minimal background. Organizers reported a record number of requests to exhibit at the fair, especially from foreigners.

Hat maker Borsalino was touting its eco-friendly products that use vegetable-based dyes. Meanwhile, Vozianov, an emerging Ukrainian designer selected in collaboration with Vogue, introduced his “Closes” line.

Among the brands selected by global network CLASS, Agostina Zwillig showcased a natural and organic line that included a black felt coat of Oriental inspiration, handmade using water and soap. It will retail for 1,800 euros, or $2,448. Zwillig also offered felt bags inspired by Japan’s Feltrigami, starting at 120 euros, or $163.

Collection Privée showcased a capsule collection of neoprene and neoprene-leather bags and a luxury line of bags enriched with foulard accessories. It also exhibited sweaters, jackets, shoes and sneakers, cobranded with Avirex, K-way, Porselli and Superga, respectively.

Natural beauty products maker Korres, a Greek firm, chose White Beauty for its launch in Italy, with its best-selling Wild Rose skin care line.

In its second season, NOW, an rtw fast-fashion trade fair that shared access with the 7,000-plus buyers at MI Milano, offered 27 international exhibitors, including American luxury denim and casualwear brands Ed Hardy and True Religion.

Relish, an Italian brand, received orders mainly from Italy and the U.S. The firm, a first-time NOW vendor, showcased country-glam pieces for summer and proposed a military luxury collection in warm and natural colors mixed with pearls and sequins for winter.

“It has been a positive fair. We have seen a number of Italian buyers and made important contacts for a future distribution in the U.S.,” said a Relish spokeswoman.

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