MILAN — For buyers hunting fresh finds in the vast hubbub of Milan’s fashion system, the boutique-like Super scouting trade fair in Milan yielded gems of promising accessories and ready-to-wear for winter 2018-19, despite mixed morale among rising exhibitors anxious to be noticed.
Shoko Omura, a women’s clothing buyer for the Japanese high-end fashion giant United Arrows, was upbeat about what she discovered at the three-day trade show organized by Pitti Immagine, which closed here Feb. 26.
“Yes, they’ve done an effective job of scouting,” she said. She was particularly impressed by the six talents brought in from the Mercedes-Benz Tbilisi Fashion Week in Georgia, including the spare, bright, softly structured prêt-à-porter collection presented by Tamuna Ingorokva. Cream wool and blue leather outerwear mixed ethereal puckered, polka-dotted transparencies and voluminous, lightweight knits that turned imperfection into interest, like a loose white yarn knitted up the front of a scarlet sweater.
“Japanese customers don’t like too much heavy fabric. They are looking for lightness and clean designs,” Omura explained. She said Japanese women want trendy, sporty, feminine, versatile pieces — bright colors, skirts, blouses and dresses they can wear for both work and leisure. And the retail business in Japan is looking very promising. “Last year was very bad for apparel, but this year is very interesting.”
The total number of buyers at Super slipped to 4,700 from 5,100 in February 2017, but buyers from the U.S. and Russia rose 20 and 30 percent, respectively, and foreign buyers flocked in from 50 countries.
“Research, great selection, quality, concreteness in product, previews, emerging talents and future scenarios: these are the recurring words in judgments we have gathered in these days among international buyers who came to the salon,” said Pitti Immagine chief executive officer Raffaello Napoleone.
Executives, including Napoleone, were upbeat about the Italian women’s fashion clothing sector in general. Turnover for the category, which includes outerwear, knits, shirts and leather clothing, rose for the fourth consecutive year, according to figures from Italian textile and clothing federation Sistema Moda Italia. The sector continues to expand on the strength of exports, while domestic consumption keeps contracting. Total turnover rose 2.7 percent compared to the year before to 13.3 billion euros in 2017. Italian turnover has sunk for five consecutive years, from 12 billion euros in 2012 to 9.9 billion in 2017, Napoleone said.
Ten “Super Talents” of emerging designers selected by Sara Maino of Vogue Italia and Vogue Talents boasted promising credentials, like Maria Boyarovskaya, a Russian designer based in Paris with a background working at Givenchy and John Galliano, and Admir Batlak from Norway, who has collaborated with Dolce & Gabbana. Edda Gimnes, a London-based Norwegian designer who only graduated in 2015 from the London College of Fashion, claimed to have already dressed Gigi Hadid, Lena Dunham and Lady Gaga and taken in a shelf full of awards. “The core of my brand is prints and illustrations,” said Gimnes, whose label is called Edda.
Stylized, cartoon leopard spots in purple, green, brown and black splashed across a trench with printed cartoon breast pockets and raccoon cuffs. Rows of purple fur tufted from a green and purple print on a quilted stole. Digitally printed textile buckles cuffed a coat exploding with shaved mink in different lengths, silver fox and ostrich feathers made in collaboration with Kopenhagen Fur.
An installation of Major by Giovanni Allegri fused high-tech materials with big fur statements in highly crafted, futuristic overcoats for men and women. Metal studs marched across a black biker jacket with generous black-and-white fur lapels. Big O-rings cinched the belts of long dark overcoats with massive fur lapels and aggressive details, like metal studs around cuffs or outer arms.
Ukrainian designer Elvira Gasanova riffed on a Casanova theme, including her Princess lingerie: a collection of transparent negligees and bodysuits made from nude and black net Swarovski crystal that she says retail from 1,000 to 2,000 euros each. She first presented them at Kiev Fashion Week. “I sold 10 to 12 pieces to private clients during a presale,” Gasanova said — mainly to celebrities and singers but also to brides or birthday girls who “want to be unforgettable.”
Fifty percent of the 144 exhibitors were new to Super, including the four-year-old outerwear label LodenTal, designed and owned by Andrea Provvidenza. His line delivers high fashion interpretations of traditional Austrian loden coats and capes.
“It’s my first time at Super. It’s very dynamic as a place. It has been important for me,” said Provvidenza, who said he sold largely through high-end and trendy retailers, like Barneys New York and the Goop e-commerce site, but also through trunk shows in global capitals, where he offers pieces made to measure. Customers, he said, included Elton John’s husband David Furnish, who ordered three capes at a London trunk show: the stylist Elizabeth Saltzman, fashion designer Pierpaolo Piccioli and actress Gwyneth Paltrow. “She chose a pink loden coat,” Provvidenza said.
Cream and black loden capes featured bright, graphic coral and camel intarsia designs in floral and chevron motifs. Loden coats were cuffed, collared and sleeved in tan leather, and lined with curvy intarsia patterns. And there were luxuriant raccoon collars, muff-like cuffs and long-haired Mongolian goat.
“There are interesting things,” said Beppe Angelini, a prominent Italian buyer and ex-chairman of the Italian buyer association Camera dei Buyers, “It is very important to diversify [merchandise] in this moment of anarchy and freedom in fashion. It is a lot more individual than in the past.”
Angelini’s eye landed on Pommes de Claire, among other exhibitors. The small Italian label presented a collection of dresses and coats with unusual architectural volumes created by draping of rectangular sections of fabric on the sides of skirts. Pieces hinted of dress coats and bustles but with the fluidity of contemporary urban design.
“Beppe Angiolini gave me some very interesting advice,” said the brand’s designer and owner, Chiara Salvioli. Angiolini took her look book and encouraged her to enter fashion competitions, like Vogue’s Who Is On Next? Generally speaking, though, she found the fair slow.
“It‘s a bit slow,” agreed Maria Cardelli, an Italian designer based in Holland who showed her handbag and shoe collection. So far, she is distributed in 14 boutiques, mainly on the U.S. West Coast and in the Netherlands, but is looking for an agent or a showroom to win big distribution. Her background includes freelancing with major U.S. makers like Candie’s and the children’s division of Nine West.
Cardelli’s whimsical hourglass heels winked at early 20th-century styles in purple, pink, blue and black leather pumps, mary janes and boots. Heart-shaped high heels and jagged rubber soles gave traction and edge to her stilettos. Interlocking puzzle and circle motifs stood out on shoes and purses.