Italian Venues Pick Up Pizzazz

A renewed energy is coursing through Italian trade shows, which have taken a more unified promotional approach.

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MILAN — A renewed energy is coursing through Italian trade shows, which have taken a more unified promotional approach.

This story first appeared in the May 21, 2014 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Fairs reported significant increases in attendance among buyers and visitors in the first half, which is expected to continue during the rest of the year, and a plethora of events on the calendar for the second half of 2014. The upcoming Pitti Uomo in June is a prime example.

“This is going to be a very special edition, as it coincides with festivities for the 60th anniversary of the Florence Center for Italian Fashion,” said Pitti Immagine chief executive officer Raffaello Napoleone, describing an array of events under the “Florence Hometown of Fashion” umbrella.

Florentine labels Salvatore Ferragamo, Gucci, Emilio Pucci and Ermanno Scervino will each pay tribute to their home turf with celebrations, and the historic Ponte Vecchio will unveil its new lighting system, courtesy of men’s wear brand Stefano Ricci, with a show on the Arno River open to the public.

The fair itself will play with a “Ping Pitti Pong” theme, centered around sporty lifestyle products, and Napoleone noted the central pavilion’s penthouse, redesigned by Patricia Urquiola and featuring a barbershop, smoking lounge and reading room.

“We’re working on creating the atmosphere of a contemporary, relaxed gentlemen’s club,” he said.

Mido president Cirillo Marcolin reported a 5 percent increase in visitors, 60 percent from outside Italy, at the latest edition of the annual eyewear fair in March, which hosted 1,100 exhibitors from 49 countries.

“We’re particularly satisfied with the general sentiment that was felt at the stands, which reflected a renewed vigor and business drive on behalf of industry workers,” he said.

This year, Mido collaborated with marketing and communication students from Milan’s Bocconi University to create the Bestand prize, awarded to the most attractive and original stand at the fair, and the “Midounvolto” initiative that placed an oversize pair of glasses in the city center and drew crowds with a fashion show in Piazza del Duomo in which models sported different eyeglasses.

In April, when Milan was awash in Design Week activities, Mido launched the second edition of Out of Mido, bringing together 15 eyewear companies to showcase their wares at a public event in Via Tortona. Marcolin noted the 2015 edition of the fair will be positioned closer to the subway station, simplifying travel logistics for participants.

Textiles and accessories fair Milano Unica’s February edition hosted 398 exhibitors, and 19,000 visitors cruised the stands. The show registered a 7.6 percent year-over-year gain in the number of foreign companies attending, with notable European increases such as Germany, up 30 percent; the U.K., up 16 percent, and Sweden, up 45 percent. Non-European regions were also on the rise, with China increasing 63 percent, Japan up 13 percent, Russia ahead 11 percent and Turkey gaining 9 percent.

“For the September edition, we expect similar tendencies, both in terms of exhibitors whom we are still recruiting, and in terms of foreign turnout,” said Milano Unica president Silvio Albini.

Given the interest in fair sections dedicated to young and eco-friendly brands, Albini said Milano Unica would further develop these going forward. The show has also lined up a new “Japan Observatory” alongside its main area, where select Japanese textile firms will exhibit, and Albini said this was conceived as a long-term addition to Milano Unica.

Further, Albini said Milano Unica had coordinated its dates with leather and accessories fair Lineapelle, which will take place at Milan’s Rho fairground for the first time after leaving Bologna, and overlap with Milano Unica for two days, during which the fairs have arranged for shuttle services to bring visitors to both.

At trendy niche fair White, president Massimiliano Bizzi said there was a 15 percent attendance increase for foreign and 22 percent increase for Italian buyers at the women’s February edition.

“Milan Fashion Week has become more attractive over the past few seasons,” said Bizzi, noting that White had seen an uptick in the number of visitors from Japan, China, South Korea and Russia.

At White’s next edition in June, which is focused on men’s wear and women’s pre-collections, Bizzi said a new high-end denim section will make its debut. In September, he said the fair would introduce a slew of innovative brands from around the world, especially those with a strong Web presence.

At Fiera Milano’s Milano Prêt-à-Porter, or MIPAP, 150 brands showed their wares in February, with 3,800 buyers at the stands, an 18 percent increase over 2013. MIPAP exhibition manager Emanuela Forlin said Italian firms had balanced high-quality Made in Italy garments with accessible prices to which foreign buyers responded, in particular from Japan, South Korea and continental Europe. Seminars on market trends will be increasingly key to the fair, Forlin added.

“We have to be able to offer ‘intelligence’ tools that help companies to evaluate emerging markets and approach them in a professional way,” she said.

Sposaitalia Collezioni, Fiera Milano’s bridal fair, will continue to focus on bringing foreign buyer delegations to its next editions, with groups from South Korea, Lebanon, Singapore, Uzbekistan and Holland among those already confirmed.

Fiera di Vicenza and Not Just a Label’s Origin Passion and Beliefs, which kicked off its first edition May 8 in Vicenza in tandem with the Vicenzaoro jewelry fair, aims to be a new destination for independent designers and fresh talent, in a platform split in four key sections: leather, stone, technology and textiles.

“We are certain that the show will be the beginning of an intense network of collaborations in which Fiera di Vicenza will have a highly strategic role,” said its general director, Corrado Facco, adding that the fair’s emphasis on scouting and nurturing young talent stemmed from a desire to “keep [Italy’s] skill level high and bring forward the high-quality standard” of local manufacturing and design.

Last week, Vicenzaoro’s organizing body, Fiera di Vicenza, and the Dubai World Trade Center signed an agreement for the creation of a company called DV Global Link. As a first step in this partnership, DV Global Link will organize Fiera di Vicenza Dubai, a high-end jewelry trade show bowing next year at the Dubai World Trade Center. The four-day fair set for April 23 to 26 expects to bring more than 600 high-end exhibitors to Dubai.

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