MILAN, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 22:  General view of White Women's Collections + accessories SS 18 on September 22, 2017 in Milan, Italy.  (Photo by Sebastian Reuter/Getty Images for White)

MILAN Trade show White Milano, which focuses on contemporary ready-to-wear and accessories collections, is expanding.

Running Feb. 23 to 26, the upcoming edition will showcase 546 brands, up 6.85 percent compared to the show’s February edition last year. Of these, 163 companies are from abroad while 210, both from Italy and overseas, are exhibiting at the show for the first time, marking an 11.1 percent increase of new entry labels compared to last year.

“New generations are expressing interesting concepts and we have to help them,” said White’s founder and president Massimiliano Bizzi, underscoring that the scouting activity remains at the core of the trade show.

The international appeal and attractiveness of the fair has been boosted by the partnership with Italy’s trade agency ICE, which has been supporting White Milano since 2016 in promoting Italian small- and medium-sized companies abroad and in bringing international buyers and media to the fair.

“The fashion industry is essential for us, both in terms of numbers and image,” said ICE’s president Michele Scannavini. “In 2016, sales of fashion outside Italy totaled about 63 billion euros, accounting for 15 percent of Italy’s total exports. In the first 10 months of 2017, fashion exports grew 5.8 percent and are likely to exceed 65 billion euros,” said Scannavini, adding that such results reflect the quality of Italian companies and the agency’s investments. In particular, the executive said ICE will invest 47 million euros in supporting the fashion industry in 2018.

In particular, the “Style Routes to Shanghai” project, which was launched in October, will be replicated later this year, taking a selection of Italian small- and medium-sized companies to Shanghai to develop commercial opportunities in the Chinese market, where Italian fashion’s sales grew 14 percent in 2017, according to Scannavini. “The Chinese market is difficult and much more selective than it seems, but this format performed very well last year so we’re confirming it,” said Scannavini, who hopes “this is just the beginning of a project that we would like to take to other emerging markets as well.”

In Milan, ICE will also support the third edition of the “It’s time to South” format, aimed at promoting 15 emerging designers coming from southern Italy. “This is part of a bigger program, whose goal is to increase the chances of our entrepreneurs and designers based in southern regions to find opportunities and reach international markets,” Scannavini concluded.

To accommodate all the exhibitors, White’s upcoming edition will be housed in four locations in Milan’s hip Tortona district, covering a 233,577-square-foot space.

This has been expanded by 8.5 percent compared to February 2017 by tripling the space of the Tortona 31 location, in particular. Two new areas will be added to the Tortona 31/Archiproducts section, which debuted in September to offer a selection of the most interesting international labels.

Among these, there will be this season’s special guest Rouge Margaux. Launched last year, the Parisian label operates under the creative direction of designer Cem Cinar, who will debut the brand’s fall 2018 collection in the city through a special live performance.

“I’m thrilled to expand the horizons of Rouge Margaux and increase the presence of our brand globally,” said Cinar, explaining that the lineup will be inspired by “the different characters and personalities” of his six sisters and will feature “an eclectic edge and no limitations in terms of fabrics and color combinations.” The label is stocked by 10 retailers worldwide, three of which are in Italy, but Cinar hopes “to grow more in this market.”

Other labels exhibiting in this section will include WJY Studio, Isla Fontaine, Tessa Spielhofer, Ksenia Schnaider, Laura Theiss, Synestesiac and Babukhadia, among others.

White’s special project will be by Italian designer Marco Rambaldi, who will stage his fall collection — recently presented during Altaroma — through an installation and flank it with the screening of a short movie retracing the inspirations and mood of his lineup. In addition, designer Federica Tosi will unveil a see-now-buy-now collection of five looks, created exclusively for the fair.

The original Superstudio Più-Tortona 27 venue will develop the two “Feminine Attitude” and “Contemporary Mood” macro-trends. The former will be represented by labels such as Mykke Hofmann, Douuod and Semicouture, while the latter will be represented by the Haikure, Closed and Joe’s Los Angeles brands, among others. The “Red Area” will gather all the companies exhibiting for the first time at White, as Wehve, VeeCollective and Mapoésie Paris, while the “Basement” corner will showcase the most avant-garde offerings.

Sections dedicated to bijoux, eyewear and beauty will also feature in the other two venues of Tortona 35 and Tortona 54.

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