The upcoming Pitti Uomo trade fair in Florence will feature as many exhibitors as last season, and a fair amount of newness.

This story first appeared in the May 13, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

“In bad economies, good trade shows do well,” said Raffaello Napoleone, chief executive of Pitti Immagine, addressing a luncheon in New York on Tuesday.

One new aspect will be Pitti Uomo’s partnership with L’Uomo Vogue and Alta Roma to inaugurate a men’s wear counterpart to Franca Sozzani’s “Who Is On Next?” talent showcase, which has fostered the careers of Nicholas Kirkwood and Tommaso Aquilano and Roberto Rimondi (then of 6267). Seven finalists will be on display, and the winner will be revealed during the fair.

Brooks Brothers will participate in Pitti Uomo for the first time, even though Pitti is no longer the epicenter for luxury tailored clothing it once was. Brooks will wholesale its signature collection and a smattering of Black Fleece.

Buckler, Christopher Fischer and A.G. Spalding & Bros. are also among the brands exhibiting for the first time. Malo, Lardini, Sergio Tacchini and Helly Hansen are returning after absences.

Swimwear brand Vilebrequin will unveil its first sportswear collection at the fair. Outside the Fortezza da Bassa, Ballantyne will premiere S+arck With Ballantyne, a collaboration with Philippe Starck. Mila Schön will launch men’s wear and commemorate its 50th anniversary with an event and dance performance.

Jun Takahashi of Undercover, Pitti Uomo’s featured guest designer, has planned a “performance” to present his spring collection.

Proenza Schouler, the featured designer for the affiliated women’s pre-collection fair, Pitti W, will also eschew a typical runway show, in collaboration with three American visual artists and in partnership with Yvonne Force’s Art Production Fund. Designer Lazaro Hernandez attended the luncheon without his partner Jack McCollough. He said McCollough was “getting better, staying in,” having suffered a broken nose last week following an alleged assault by actor Kiefer Sutherland. (For more on the incident, see Fashion Scoops, page 9.)