MILAN — As Italy eases restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, Italian trade show operators are betting on a return to physical formats, at least partially.
After Pitti Immagine and textile trade show Milano Unica confirmed full-fledged IRL events in late June and early July, respectively, contemporary fashion and accessories fair White Milano announced it is running the upcoming edition of its WSM fair dedicated to sustainability and modern artisanship in a “phygital” format June 19 to 21, coinciding with Milan Men’s Fashion Week.
The trade show organizer will resume the entirely physical format in September, with the White Milano show dedicated to women’s collections scheduled from Sept. 23 to 26.
Continuing its efforts to represent up-and-coming brands, mostly in the contemporary arena and operated by small- and medium-sized enterprises, which represent 90 percent of Italy’s fashion sector’s sales, the WSM hybrid showcase will leverage several partnerships.
The trade show organizer teamed up with Camera della Moda Fashion Trust — the nonprofit arm of the association dedicated to tutoring and mentoring young talents — to jointly select and promote five national and international designers whose collections will be featured at the 10 Corso Como retail emporium at an event during Milan Fashion Week.
“This initiative marks a seminal step in the collaboration with the Fashion Trust in such a delicate moment for smaller, up-and-coming brands,” said Massimiliano Bizzi, founder of White Milano.
“I’m really happy that Camera della Moda is collaborating with White and Confartigianato on such a project,” echoed Carlo Capasa, chairman of Italy’s fashion governing body and of Fashion Trust.
This initiative with Camera della Moda is to be flanked by other physical activations across the city as WSM is forging ties with leading retailers and multibrand stores in Milan to offer its exhibitors a chance to physically showcase their collections. The trade show organizer will also run workshops so that small companies can better display their know-how and craftsmanship.
At the same time, the digital WSM platform will include a section dedicated to small artisanal fashion companies selected by Camera Showroom Milano, a relatively new entity set up by Milan-based multibrand showrooms at the end of 2020.
Bizzi has long been vocal about the importance of a joint effort to relaunch the city of Milan. “Since we launched the ‘Milano Loves Italy’ project [in 2020], we’ve worked relentlessly to bring as much energy as possible to Milan Fashion Week, and these are all projects that go in that direction,” he explained. “Our primary goal is to make Milan attractive for entrepreneurs to invest in the city and not run away to Paris or other key fashion capitals.”
He also reiterated his ambition and dream to engage the city at large during fashion week with consumer-facing events, in line with what Milan Design Week has been able to do over the past years.
While the project might not see the light before 2022 — with the first seeds to be planted next September — Bizzi said other entities, including Milan’s municipality, are on board.
“We’re committed to build this range of satellite events animating the city step by step because I believe that fashion week has been too exclusive over the past years…it’s not simply about promoting the event, it’s an actual business need,” Bizzi explained.