MILAN — Super, the fashion trade show organized by Pitti Immagine and running Feb. 20 to 23 here, had a good public response but ended with a drop in visitors, due to the coronavirus outbreak in Italy, which affected the last day of the event. The total number of visitors for its 90 exhibitors was 4,500 compared with 5,700 in February a year ago, with more than 20 percent coming from 50 countries.
Japan remains the trade show’s first market, followed by Spain, France, Germany, Switzerland, Greece and the U.S. “We have mainly seen a drop in Italian buyers, while international ones showed good numbers,” explained Raffaello Napoleone, Pitti Immagine’s chief executive officer. “The critical point remains our domestic market, which was already suffering” before the COVID-19 emergency.
This is why Super’s Italian exhibitors are asking the organizers “to keep on focusing on foreign markets and to help attract more international buyers, as around two-thirds of our production is exported,” Napoleone added. Coinciding with Milan Fashion Week and other trade shows, such as White Milan, is benefiting each of the events.
A brand that goes against the trend and still sees Italy as its first market is Tuscany’s L’impermeabile. Led by Simone Landi, the third generation of the family company founded by his grandfather Lando Landi, L’impermeabile specializes in raincoats. “Our target market is Italy, then Japan, Korea, the U.S. (New York in particular) and Great Britain, despite it being the raincoat’s homeland,” said Simone Landi. “The Asian markets are slowing down, as we all know, but Russia’s coming back and we are also optimistic about Europe.”
L’impermeabile stood out for a reinterpretation of old raincoats, which the company used to sell in the Sixties. “Our design starts from the study of our archives, from models to materials,” Landi said. “We select the best textiles and we reproduce the same materials and colors of those times.”
At Super, the company featured a wool version as well, made of a regenerated denim that comes from the leftovers of a partner company in Tuscany. “Our goal is to give life to a circular economy for real,” Landi said. “We use recycled materials and we are now trying to raise awareness among our clients, asking to collect old clothes and take them back to our company.”
A deep relationship with nature emerged from Eduardo Juarez Camacho’s bags collection, too. The Mexico-born, Milan-based designer was inspired by “what I know best, Mexico,” a bucolic Mexico, where countryside provides all the materials and colors needed. “This may be a less known side of my homeland, but it is extremely beautiful and fascinating: I wanted to give new life to ancient techniques, through new ways of shaping leather,” Camacho explained.
This is why he went back to Mexico after studying at Marangoni Institute in Milan and working with Italian artisans. There he learned everything about the world of “charreria,” the Mexican equestrian tradition, which he combined with contemporary techniques once back in Milan. At Super, he presented both equestrian and Maya pyramid-inspired bags. “My production has been small until now, but I am now looking for a partnership with big companies in order to boost sales, and I am also developing the e-commerce channel,” he said.
Another interesting accessories brand at Super was Acchitto, founded by Francesca Richiardi and Elena Faccio, both under 30, two years ago. Their jewels are inspired by a vintage idea of fashion, where opulence and volumes play with trendy shapes. The duo presented rings “with a patented mechanism which allows each piece of the collection to be interchangeable,” said Richiardi, “but also our iconic Sicilian Moors together with Victorian-inspired jewels.”
Both designers worked in the fashion industry before launching their own brand, and they “wanted to combine jewels and fashion by creating wearable art, customizable pieces [that] can match the clothes,” Richiardi said.
The two designers are witnessing a growing interest from the American and the Japanese markets. “Our creations, all handmade by the Valenza goldsmiths, are being well-appreciated abroad, but at this very moment selling from Italy is getting a bit disadvantageous,” Faccio said, pointing to COVID-19. But attending a fair like Super “has been essential for introducing our brand to international buyers and media.”
Geraldine Alasio, founder of the knitwear brand Be You, agreed. “I firmly believe in the trade show format, as it allows us to meet new clients, even though we have built a widespread network over the last 10 years,” she said. Be You was founded in 2008, when Alasio first went to Mongolia following a project supported by the European Investment Bank. There she started a partnership with local workers: knitwear, made with cashmere from Mongolia, is produced in the north of Italy and distributed through a network of 200 accounts.
The brand, whose line offers around 80 pieces in 25 colors, also features a small accessories line and a collection made of alpaca from Peru. “The drop in visitors in the last days of the trade show has affected us all, but we have made up for this situation by strengthening the contact by remote,” Alasio explained. “We are also seeing a recovery of the domestic market and I think this is the most important factor.”