MILAN – Fidenza Village, a Value Retail Chic Outlet Shopping venue about an hour outside Milan, is jumping on the Expo bandwagon, transforming itself into “The Embassy of Made in Italy.”
From May through October, the luxury outlet aims to be “a multisensory shopping tourism experience” with fashion, food, design, music and art all around, said Désirée Bollier, chief executive officer of Value Retail, at a presentation on Wednesday.
If recent history is anything to go by, the outlet is poised to boom during Expo, when 20 million visitors are expected to flock toward the Italian fashion capital: in 2014, well before the groundswell in activities around the event, Fidenza Village saw a 61 percent year-on-year increase in tax-free sales to Chinese tourists alone.
“Over 2.3 million non-EU tourists are expected to visit Expo, and over half of these visitors are estimated to be Chinese. This is an immense opportunity for Italy, and for Fidenza, to showcase Italian heritage,” Bollier said, noting the outlet has developed a series of package offers that combine shopping with excursions, such as a trip to the Ferrari Museum in Maranello, or Italian cooking lessons.
Outlet shoppers will also be able to purchase Expo tickets on site.
In May and June, Fidenza Village will adopt an opera theme, complete with plainclothes professional opera singers who will surprise visitors with flash-mob style renditions of “Tosca,” “Carmen” or “The Barber of Seville,” among other classics, thanks to a partnership with the Fondazione Arena di Verona, a renowned opera festival. Fidenza Village is also hoping to secure some historic costumes from Milan’s Teatro alla Scala to display.
In July and August, the outlet is celebrating “La Dolce Vita,” and in September and October, “Italian Passion” will be the overarching theme.
To keep shoppers entertained throughout, Fidenza Village has enlisted artist Patrick Tuttofuoco for special Italy-inspired installations, as well as top chef Davide Oldani, the Academia Barilla — a group dedicated to promoting quality Italian cooking and fending off imitation products — and the Vinitaly wine and spirits show for refreshments.
Mario Boselli, honorary president of the Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana and Fidenza Village’s fashion ambassador for Expo, called the visual, culinary and performing arts Italy’s “pillars.” He said Fidenza Village visitors were likely to see iconic pieces from fashion house archives, as well as displays telling the history of Italian brands, at the outlet over the next several months.
The Italian fashion sector is “experiencing a particularly positive moment, I must say,” Boselli observed, noting that the industry employs 570,000 people at 60,000 firms, with a combined turnover in 2014 of about 61 billion euros, or $68 billion at current exchange — a 3 percent increase over 2013 — and a positive trade balance of over 18 billion euros, or $20 billion.
“The best is yet to come,” he added. “For 2015, we expect a turnover increase of 5.5 percent, 2.9 or 3 percent in the first half of the year, and 8.8 or 9 percent in the second part of the year. These are important figures that we hadn’t seen in years. If all goes well, I think I’m not mistaken, we’ll reach the end of the year with 64 billion euros in turnover [$71 billion],” Boselli said.
Fidenza Village is a longstanding partner of the Fondazione Altagamma, the association of upscale Italian companies in a range of creative fields and the hospitality sector.