MILAN — The Italian trade show calendar always has been a kinetic entity, characterized by last-minute venue changes and political wrangling. This September's first megatextile show — a feat that literally took years to come together — marks a significant step toward unity, which is not to say the Italian calendar isn't still full of activity.
The consolidation seen among textile shows has several causes. European manufacturers, especially those in the textile industry, are suffering as China emerges on the scene, and a strong euro-to-dollar exchange rate is eating companies' margins. A consistently sluggish European market and signs that U.S. economic growth could be slowing don't help, either.
But overall, organizers of fairs small and large are staying upbeat and optimistic that buyers will still flock to Italy for everything from the finest silks to Tuscan leathers. There are hopes that a bigger, more unified textile trade show will create a more formidable competitor to Paris' Premiere Vision, and Italians are banking on Milan's newly opened fairgrounds in Rho-Pero to accommodate more exhibitors and buyers.
"People still have to come to fairs to continue doing business," said Raffaele Napoleone, chief executive officer of Pitti Immagine, which organizes several fairs, including men's wear event Pitti Immagine Uomo, to be held July 22-25 at Florence's Fortezza da Basso.
The birth of the unified textile show, called Milano Unica, Il Salone Italiano del Tessile, comes after years of mulling the prospect. Fair organizers said late last year that they had finally gotten it together for a show in March — only to postpone it once more until September. Insiders said organizers from different trade entities argued over everything from location to the regional provenance of the food and beverages to be served at the event.
But in the end, organizers managed to work past those differences to combine men's wear fabric shows Ideabiella and Shirt Avenue with women's textile events Ideacomo and Moda In. The unified show will take place in the older downtown Milan fairgrounds Sept.13-16.
Unica organizers had hoped that Prato Expo would join up for the event, but the Tuscan textile show is sticking to its original separate format for now. It runs Sept. 15-17 at Florence's Fortezza da Basso, overlapping Unica by two days."Just determining the dates and logistics and harmonizing everybody's old habits wasn't that easy, " said Ideabiella president Pier Luigi Loro Piana, one of the key figures behind Unica. He's expecting more than 600 exhibitors and 20,000 visitors at the fair. "A foreign buyer can now see in just a few days the best that Italy has to offer in textiles," he said.
Loro Piana said organizers have yet to determine how entrance passes will work, but most likely, there will be one pass for all of the fairs except Ideabiella, which is considered a more exclusive event and will require its own entrance pass for access.
Vincenzo Pagano, director of Prato Expo, said he's not completely against joining Unica sometime in the future, but he's convinced buyers will come to see Prato Expo, regardless. He said he thinks buyers will come to Italy for smaller, more specialized fairs; the key is to offer what they are looking for rather than vast quantities of products.
"The idea of coming together can help [the situation of too many fairs] but it can also run the risk of becoming too generalized," Pagano said, adding that Prato Expo will likely see 10 to 15 percent fewer exhibitors this year than last season due to Italy's overall textile crisis.
Micam and Mipel are the first fashion-related trade shows making the move to the new Milan fairgrounds in the suburb of Rho-Pero. A subway link to the new fair was inaugurated earlier this year. Micam, dedicated to footwear, and Mipel, which covers other leather goods and accessories, both run Sept. 22-25.
Rossano Soldini, president of shoemaker association Anci, which organizes the Micam fair, said a bigger exhibition space will allow the fair to broaden its scope. The new fairgrounds, which cost some 750 million euros, or $964.4 million at current exchange, boasts more than 3.5 million square feet of exhibition space.
"Moving to Rho-Pero means having more space so that we can accommodate more Italian and international vendors," Soldini said.
Over the years, smaller niche trade shows have emerged and battled for the attention of both vendors and buyers, with mixed results. Juggling dates, locations and funding proved too much for some. Access Code, a cottage fair organizer pushing emerging designers, canceled its apparel and accessories events earlier this year as its organization disintegrated.But some smaller trade events have persevered and are actually growing, such as White and its sister fairs, Neozone and Cloudnine. White focuses on emerging labels and trendy fare, while Neozone offers more classic ready-to-wear and Cloudnine exhibits accessories. The three fairs coincide with Milan's women's wear runway shows Sept. 29-Oct. 2 in the hip Via Tortona neighborhood.
"We're trying to put more of a focus on the creative side," said Agostino Polletto, a board member at Efima, the organization that runs the three fairs. "We want to create a sort of platform for new designers," he said, adding that he's expecting the number of exhibitors to jump 20 percent from the last edition to about 300 companies.
As one of the most recognizable models in the world, Christy Turlington Burns has an insider’s view of the fashion industry and the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around it. “I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry. The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experiences at some point in our careers,” Turlington told WWD, along with her suggestions for how the modeling world should protect younger women and men. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: Tony Palmieri) #wwdnews
@asics America has tapped a new brand ambassador: famed DJ/record producer @steveaoki. This initiative is intended to set the tone for the new brand identity and philosophy and will include partnerships with influencers and in-store and off-line activations that will continue into next year. This is Asics’ most significant marketing effort in two decades, and is expected to attract younger consumers to the brand. #wwdfashion
24-year-old Jean Prounis is redefining the rules of jewelry. Formerly a studio assistant to Jemima Kirke and a design apprentice at Ghuran, she focuses on handcrafted subtleties and ancient goldsmithing techniques. “There was a really sterile feel in the environment and I wanted to have jewelry with character that shapes how you wear it everyday,” Prounis said. Each piece is hand made in New York, either by Prounis or three other jewelers in the district. #wwdfashion
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews
“Stranger Things” is getting a new cast member for season 2. Meet @sadiesink_, the 15-year-old who will be joining the Netflix series for its new season. You may recognize her from “The Glass Castle” with Brie Larson and Woody Harrelson, but the Texas native’s next role goes in an entirely different direction. She describes her character, Max, as “a rough and tumble skater girl [who] becomes friends with the boys at school.” The second season debuts on October 27. (📷: @jgreenery) #wwdeye
Amid the Harvey Weinstein controversy, there’s another sector that’s being put under the spotlight for sexual abuse: the modeling industry. While rumors about abuse and sexual harassment of female and male models — and the photographers, agents and others who perpetrated it — have circulated within the fashion world for years, model @cameronrussell started posting stories from models on Instagram last week about abusive situations they’ve encountered — from sexual harassment and molestation to attempted rape. Over 75 have weighed in so far. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdnews
To celebrate its 16th anniversary, @dylanscandybar tapped designers and celebrities to create mosaics out of candy. The mosaics will be auctioned off to support the philanthropic cause of each participant’s choice. Pictured here is the mural created by @aliceandolivia's Stacey Bendet. For a first look at some of the other artwork being unveiled tonight, go to WWD.com. #wwdeye
The annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in Pacific Palisades this weekend drew Kate Hudson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laura Dern and more. See pictures of the star-studded event on WWD.com. (📷: @chelsealaurenla) #wwdeye
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye