MILAN — Visitors to the upcoming 80th edition of Pitti Immagine Uomo should pack their comfortable shoes, as the Florence-based fair is set to host a slew of citywide events. Europe’s largest men’s trade fair kicks off June 14 at the Fortezza da Basso with an agenda encompassing brand anniversaries, designer debuts and special guests, building on renewed momentum in the men’s wear sector.

This story first appeared in the May 13, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Pitti president Gaetano Marzotto said here Thursday that recovery in Italy’s textile and fashion sector has been better than expected, pointing to a reported 5.6 percent growth in the first quarter, according to research by the Italian fashion and textile consortium SMI. Marzotto credited the industry’s uptick to factors including increased exports and geographical reach. Exports grew 10.4 percent last year to around 24.5 billion euros, or about $34.6 billion at current exchange. As a result, Pitti organizers stressed their efforts to attract Asian buyers to the forthcoming fair. “We’ve not only invited Chinese buyers, but those from oil-rich countries like Kazakhstan,” noted Marzotto.

For those who make the trip, a series of exclusive initiatives should pep up the storied expo, as Lubiam presents its centennial capsule collection and celebratory installation at the Limonaia in the Villa Vittoria gardens on June 14. Slowear’s Incotex marks its 60th anniversary with an installation at the Museo Marino Marini, and Italian designer Alberto Guardiani will preview a special collection with Wallpaper magazine to commemorate the 30th anniversary of his men’s line.

Among the brands scheduled to make their debuts at Pitti are Daks Sport, a new clothing and accessories range for men and women by English brand Daks; Remade in Switzerland, a capsule collection for Victorinox by Brit designer Christopher Raeburn; Pringle of Scotland’s reissued archived pieces in collaboration with Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, and an accessories collection by Vivienne Westwood and for the Ethical Fashion Africa project. The Westwood collection will be unveiled at an event on June 16. A new project from K-Way, and Carhartt Work in Progress — a contemporary twist on Carhartt’s existing urbanwear — will also make their Pitti debuts.

Adding a dose of Californian creativity to the show, special guest Scott Sternberg of Band of Outsiders will kick off the proceedings on the evening of June 15 with a runway show in a former cigar factory for three lines, including the spring 2012 Band of Outsiders collection, as well as the women’s 2012 resort collection by Boy by Band of Outsiders and the latest collection, Girl by Band of Outsiders.

Elsewhere in the fair’s main pavilions, futuro maschile, or “future men’s wear,” an area dedicated to classic contemporary collections, will house a new section composed of selected designers including Alberto Fasciani, United Arrows, Band of Outsiders, Mackintosh, Sundek by Neil Barrett and Gianvito Rossi, which will unveil its debut men’s footwear collection. Sportswear will extend its presence with a new section in the Padiglione delle Ghiaia for names including G-Star, Gant and Henry Cotton’s. New entries and returnees to the fair include Ally Cappellino, Barbour Beacon, Gaspard Yurkievich, Santoni Club and Sidecar.

Meanwhile, sister act Kate and Laura Mulleavy of Rodarte will headline the eighth edition of Pitti W — the fair’s sister event that showcases women’s pre-collections — on June 16. Although organizers remained tight-lipped about the show’s venue, the site-specific event to showcase a special collection exclusively for Pitti will also coincide with the launch of the designers’ first tome, entitled “Rodarte,” in which artists Catherine Opie and Alec Soth interpret the designs through photography.

After test-driving its online portal, called e-Pitti, in January, Pitti Immagine will officially launch its digital platform to facilitate interaction between buyers and exhibitors at the fair. The virtual version of the show will open a week after Pitti Uomo ends and remain online for about a month. A showroom B2B area, online throughout the year, will provide buyers with the opportunity to buy collections and include around 1,600 exhibitors and 10,000 products.

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