MILAN — The White fashion fair, one of the trade shows resulting from a split at this city’s main Moda Milano ready-to-wear fair, is gaining an increasingly high profile among trendsetting buyers, who say the show has become an essential stopover for retailers scouting for emerging design talent and on-the-edge looks.
Held at the Superstudio Più exhibition space at 27 Via Tortona, the fourth edition of the show, featuring fall goods, attracted a record 6,072 buyers, with 1,566 from outside Italy, including 66 buyers from the U.S. The total was up 21 percent from 5,800 visitors last fall.
Organizers said representatives from Barneys New York, Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue had shopped the show’s 146 stands. Other leading retailers included Holt Renfrew of Canada, Colette and H.P. France of Paris and Joseph and Browns of London.
“This is the first time I’ve visited White, and I’ve seen over 15 lines that I’ve liked,” said Jennifer Rossi, a buyer for Planet Blue in Malibu, Calif. “I’ve bought lighter knits and nonconstructed cashmeres, long vest tops, pieces that go well with denim and anything with sequins.”
At Flu’s Ear, Rossi appreciated a leather jacket with an attached inner sweater. She had also bought from Italian label Avant Toi and emerging U.S. brand Pegah Anvarian. Price was not an issue as long as the piece stood out, she said.
“White has several companies that are unique to this fair, producing innovative, trendsetting products,” said Piero Costa, president of organizer, Efima. “This year, around 30 percent of the companies were new to White, but we don’t plan to expand beyond the current 145 to 150 exhibitors.”
Trends included eclectic mixes from the Fifties, Sixties and Eighties. Many companies showed layered items, like shirt collars, waistcoats and sweaters, all attached in a single piece. Skirts were often fuller, and waistbands higher, with a feminine, Fifties feel. Tweed — whether vintage or contemporary in pinks and lilac — was used throughout on jackets, pants, skirts and bags. Many collections picked up motorcycling or Hell’s Angels motifs, including neo-Gothic prints, black leather trims and reinterpreted chains. But color, especially pink, spring green, turquoise, ochre and orange, will continue to be important next fall.
At Flu’s Ear, partner Pierre Caffaggi said buyers from Bergdorf Goodman and Barneys New York also visited the stand. “Although weather conditions have slowed down Italian visitors, we’ve taken orders from stores in Italy, Japan and the U.S,” he said. “The U.S. market is picking up and we have gained several new clients — including Kapsiki in Miami, and Janet Russo and Selima Optique, both in New York — over the past season.” Still, Flu’s Ear’s turnover has remained stable at around $1.2 million (converted from 1 million euros at current exchange), and the company’s U.S. sales have dipped slightly to around 5 percent of total exports.
Popular looks for fall included an early Sixties-style coat in lilac tweed with a one-of-a-kind vintage fabric lining and plastic, spherical buttons reminiscent of the bobble hair twists used in the Sixties, and a full-cut, Fifties-influenced skirt in blue tweed with neutral wool-and-linen inserts.
In the Inside White section for emerging labels, Milan-based Monika Varga showed striking, ultrafeminine white jacquard dresses with experimental digital prints featuring brightly colored, elongated oval designs in up to 10 color varieties. At Genova-based cashmere specialists Avant Toi by Liapull, designer Marco Tagliaferri (formerly of Versace and Romeo Gigli) said buyers from Alan Bilzerian in Boston, Blake in Chicago, H. Lorenzo in California and Barneys New York had visited the stand.
“Three years ago, the U.S. was an important market, but now exports have declined,” he said. “However, the Southern regions of the U.S. are beginning to pick up. They buy less, but come here to look for [unique] products.”
Americans responded to a brushed, aged-effect cashmere-mohair sleeveless sweater with an attached fake shirt collar and sleeves in clashing wine and cherry red, he said. Also popular was a gray, English school girl’s cardigan with a vintage waistcoat and scarf attached.
Paolo Creola, owner of A.T. Shirt by Modena-based Creola, said the division among Milan’s rtw fairs had created some logistical difficulties.
“We are showing our Creola line at MilanoVendeModa [at the Milan fairgrounds], while the edgier A.T. Shirt line is here at White,” he said.
“At White, we see buyers from trend-setting boutiques, while at MVM we see a different round of buyers. We’d prefer a single show to cut down on costs.”
The five-year-old A.T. Shirt line does not currently sell in the U.S. Creola said the range had grown by 20 percent over the past two years, and added that Moulin Rouge-inspired layered looks — including a Belle Epoque-sleeved T-shirt with an attached vest and corset hook fastenings — were popular.
Milan-based accessories company Aristolasia, showing for the second time at White, said handbags made from end-of-roll vintage men’s suit tweeds and Hell’s Angels-inspired bags with knotted details in heavy black or ochre napa had both sold well.