American-made brands will have their day in the sun at January’s Pitti Uomo show.
This story first appeared in the November 10, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
In a deal cut between Liberty Fairs founder Sam Ben-Avraham and Raffaello Napoleone, chief executive officer of Pitti Immagine Srl, which stages the biannual men’s wear trade fair in Florence, a consortium of 20 U.S. brands will be brought to the show in a special Born in the USA by Liberty Fairs section. Pitti is slated to run Jan. 13 to 16.
The news of the collaboration will be revealed at a press conference in Milan today.
The offering will range from clothing and denim to accessories and footwear, all of which are made in the U.S., Ben-Avraham said. Among the brands that will be participating are 3×1, American Trench, BKC/The Brooklyn Circus, Dehen 1920, Dickies 1922/Palmer Trading, Filson, Frank Clegg, Freenote, Imogene + Willie, Knickerbocker Manufacturing Company, MSL by Billy Reid, Norman Russell, Oak Street Bootmakers, Quoddy, Red Wing, Save Khaki, Schott/Perfecto by Schott, Shinola, The Hillside and Upstate Stock.
The U.S. contingent will be housed in two adjacent, 1,300-square-foot spaces in the Archivi, a previously unused part of Fortezza da Basso, according to Pitti Uomo.
Napoleone said that, in recent years, Pitti’s push has been to become more of an “international platform.” He expects the January show to attract 22,000 buyers, 8,000 of whom he expects to be “international players,” including 800 from Japan.
Pitti Uomo historically attracts American brands to its show, but the vendors within Born in the USA are entirely new, Napoleone said. “We’ve always had a lot of American exhibitors,” he said, but they were sprinkled throughout the show, not in one dedicated space.
The idea for Born in the USA came about after a meeting with Ben-Avraham last summer, Napoleone said. Ben-Avraham said a group from Pitti Uomo visited the Liberty show in New York last July, and they brainstormed about how to make a “really powerful statement to stand out. So, we came up with Born in the USA.
“We didn’t just want Americana. We wanted a little of the old and the new, all mixed together,” he continued. “It’s a small space, so we’re very careful who we’re bringing.”
Agostino Poletto, deputy general manager of Pitti Immagine, said the brands range from “classic styles to sportswear.”
Ben-Avraham said, “The partnership is an unbelievable opportunity to service American brands by giving them the chance to be a part of the Pitti experience under the Liberty umbrella. While Liberty is not explicitly focused on Made in the USA, this point of view makes sense for us as an American trade show in Florence. We feel local manufacturing is beyond just a statement — it’s a state of mind.”
Napoleone said the deal is for four seasons; if it is successful, the number of participants and the space devoted to the brands could increase. In the trade-show business, “there needs to be consistency,” he said.
Ben-Avraham said there are no plans to open a Pitti Uomo pavilion at Liberty Fairs. “We haven’t talked about the other way around yet,” he said.
He did note that Liberty signed a partnership agreement with Project Cobalt — a new venture that offers financial support to emerging names in fashion, the arts, music and technology — to bring Knickerbocker and Norman Russell to the Born in the USA area.
In other Pitti news, Peuterey will be among the special guest brands at Pitti Uomo, and the Italian outerwear label will host a presentation with models to inaugurate a new category called Special Event@Pitti. The date and location of the event are still to be confirmed.
Francesca Lusini, chief executive officer of Peuterey Group, which also controls the GeoSpirit, Aiguille Noir and Post Card labels, said the group will continue to present its GeoSpirit and Post Card brands in a booth inside the fair.
The exposure at Pitti Uomo also is expected to help boost the company’s expansion in the U.S., where Peuterey Group opened a North American branch two years ago. The brand is hoping to triple its U.S. business to around 30 percent of overall sales within five years, he said. According to Lusini, the Peuterey Group expects to close 2014 with revenues of about 80 million euros, or $99.35 million at the current exchange rate.