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 — Contemporary ready-to-wear and accessories trade show White Milano is opening up to the city.

The upcoming edition, running June 16 to 18 in the city’s Tortona district, will launch a project called “White Street Market” focused on streetwear brands in a dedicated space, which will be accessible not only to buyers but also to consumers. The latter will have the opportunity to buy fashion through a B2C platform.

“For us, it’s like year zero. But this was a market need, I found out companies were excited and interested because they consider it the kind of marketing [strategy] they needed to reach the final customer,” said Massimiliano Bizzi, founder and president of White Milano.

The White Street Market project was conceived last November in an attempt to involve the city of Milan and to boost the appeal of the trade show, explained Bizzi.

Brands showcasing their collections in the B2C space at the Ex Ansaldo/Base venue, a former locomotive plant, include sportswear giant Adidas Originals, performancewear specialist Patagonia, watchmaker G-Shock and La Martina, which will unveil its Fair Play line focused on streetwear.

The space will also be home to a series of initiatives aimed at transforming the trade show into a “festival” in order to target Millennial customers, according to Bizzi. Events include panel discussions, live music happenings in collaboration with Milanese electronic music festival Club to Club, as well as a corner dedicated to Sneakerness, the Zurich-based firm which organizes sneaker-related, collector-oriented marketplaces and conventions in a number of European cities including Paris, London and Amsterdam.

Along with the new, customer-oriented project, the June edition of White will replicate the formula of displaying the men’s spring collections along with women’s resort offering, at the Tortona 27 and 54 venues, which cover 131,320 square feet.

The trade show will showcase 180 brands, down from 217 in January 2018, both Italian and international, the latter accounting for 60 percent of the total. The smaller number of exhibitors reflects the “buyers’ need for newness and new brands. We make a constant research and selection of new, exciting labels with a focus on women’s [brands], along with more contemporary men’s wear labels,” explained Bizzi.

In line with its focus on providing emerging designers with an international exhibition platform, White’s June edition will display the spring 2019 collection of Matthew Miller, named special guest of the trade show. A graduate from London’s Royal College of Arts, Miller established his namesake brand in 2010 and scooped up the 2018 International Woolmark Prize for Menswear. At White Milano, his collection “will focus on new technologies and recycled materials, including accessories made of 100 percent upcycled plastic,” explained the designer, who has previously presented his men’s collections in London.

Along with Miller, New York-made brand Abasi Rosborough and Chinese, Parisian collective Sagittaire A, named White’s special designer and special project, respectively, will present their collections at the fair.

French brand Ih Nom Uh Nit, which will unveil its spring 2019 collection with a presentation scheduled for June 18, as part of the Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana official fashion week calendar, will host a special event open to the public at White Milano.

Opening up to and bolstering the number of international buyers is high on the trade show organizers’ agenda, too. In order to reach this goal, White Milano extended its partnership with ICE, the Italian trade agency, throughout 2019.

“In keeping with the need to align to today’s changing fashionscape, we decided to renew our support to the trade show, inviting for the first time during the June edition international buyers and the press,” said Bruna Santarelli, director at the Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam office of ICE.

This time the institution has focused on the U.S., France, Australia and for the first time, on the South African market. “[White Milano] is a go-to event, even overseas,” she mused.

Bizzi praised what ICE and Milan’s municipality, along with the country’s numerous institutions, have done over the past few years. “I hope to replicate the round table with Italian key fashion players as this is the only way to tangibly support the companies, above all those [companies] unable to expand internationally on their own,” he said.

Toward the same direction goes the renewal of a partnership between the Milan trade show and international showrooms, including Tomorrow London Ltd with the “Ahead — The Function Room” project focused on ath-leisure, as well as Parisian Vald Agency and 3rd Eye Showroom, focused on contemporary brands.

Strengthening its relationship and promoting the numerous Milanese showrooms, White will additionally offer the “Showroom Connection@White” project which aims to create a bridge among brands, showrooms and buyers in order to facilitate the number of orders.

On June 17, White Milano will also host a charity event promoted by Renzo Rosso’s Only the Brave Foundation and by Massimo Sabbadin, founder of the Bad Spirit brand. During the event, eight Bearbrick dolls customized by international artists will be auctioned, with proceeds entirely devolved to a charity giving home and care to abandoned kids in Italy.

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