A Pitti Uomo stand in 1984.

Pitti Immagine may be turning 30 this year, but Pitti Uomo started its journey long before that. Since 1972, which marked the first edition of the Florentine trade show, the appeal of the fair has exponentially increased to reach its status of a key destination and barometer of what’s trending in men’s wear. Here’s a list of brands that have been exhibiting at the show since the beginning (or almost), dishing on what makes Pitti Uomo unique, how it evolved through the years and in what way it could further develop in the future.

 

1. HERNO

Italian outerwear label founded in 1948.

PITTI UOMO DEBUT: 1975

WHO: Claudio Marenzi, chief executive officer of Herno and Pitti Immagine president since 2017.

WHY PITTI UOMO: Because it’s the largest and most important trade show dedicated to men’s fashion. We have a very strong bond with it. My father Giuseppe, who founded Herno, recognized this Florentine show’s central role and importance in gathering brands and buyers hailing from all over the world.

BOOTH EVOLUTION: We remained loyal to our location in the central pavilion, in the area dubbed “Classico Italia.” But throughout the years, our stand expanded considerably. Starting last season we also added an exhibition space in the Piazzale delle Ghiaia area dedicated exclusively to our Herno Laminar collection, which was relaunched in January.

PITTI UOMO’S CONTRIBUTION: It acted as an excellent springboard, also in terms of visibility. It gave us the opportunity to get known in the world and to secure our buyers’ loyalty.

PITTI UOMO’S DEVELOPMENT: The turnout has increased exponentially throughout the years for sure, including the attendance of new exhibitors and the prominent events staged during the event. In the recent editions, Pitti Immagine managed to host many big brands, which were involved in events and fashion shows enriching the trade show’s landscape. [Pitti Immagine] has accommodated the expectations of buyers, brands and press by creating an “all-inclusive” package.

PITTI UOMO OF THE FUTURE: I believe it will remain the global reference point of men’s fashion integrating an ever-increasing quality and innovation by enhancing the exhibiting companies and the new international players.

Herno L.I.B.R.A.R.Y. event hosted last year at Pitti Uomo to celebrate the company's 70th anniversary.

The Herno L.I.B.R.A.R.Y. event hosted last year at Pitti Uomo to celebrate the company’s 70th anniversary.  Courtesy Photo

 

2. FRATELLI ROSSETTI

Footwear label founded in 1953 in Parabiago, Italy.

PITTI UOMO DEBUT: 1972

WHO: Diego Rossetti, chairman.

WHY PITTI UOMO: At first, it was the only event dedicated to men’s fashion, then there were others booming in the Eighties and Nineties across the world but the truth is that now this is back to being the only one that matters, the most important internationally.

BOOTH EVOLUTION: In the past it wasn’t even in Fortezza da Basso but in the Palazzo degli Affari venue. Overall, we have always kept our presence discreet, we never had big booths. The only difference is that maybe at the beginning our attendance was aimed to commercial purposes while in recent times it is more about communication.

PITTI UOMO’S CONTRIBUTION: It put us in touch with editors and buyers of key, yet far away, countries, like Australia, for instance — markets we would had never been able to reach by ourselves. Plus, at the beginning, when we weren’t so well-known, the sole fact of exhibiting at Pitti was sort of a quality recognition. The fact that Pitti’s management has always been very selective is a guarantee both for exhibitors and visitors.

PITTI UOMO’S DEVELOPMENT: The Pitti management has done an extraordinary job: The spaces are very easy to access and they have divided the brands very well, the clusters they have identified are so on point that even if the fair is wide, visitors can find what they’re looking for immediately. It’s an event where you really get the sense of what’s trending. And considering that men’s fashion shows are suffering a little bit, an event like Pitti Uomo is probably the best choice — and maybe it would make sense just to make coed shows and advance the women’s fashion week a little bit.

PITTI UOMO OF THE FUTURE: We’re all used to thinking in short terms because we have witnessed some revolutions that in few years have really changed our standards. So in the short-term future, I think Pitti is doing an excellent job. But I’m not sure if all these fashion shows they’re hosting represent the right strategy. The trade show formula is so right that implementing many fashion shows might create confusion because visitors nowadays have just a few days — or even a few hours — to get an idea of what’s new in the market, so going back and forth from fashion shows to the stands might be disruptive.

Fratelli Rossettti's stand at Pitti Uomo in 2011.

Fratelli Rossetti’s stand at Pitti Uomo in 2011.  Courtesy Photo

 

3. STEFANO RICCI

Florence-based high-end men’s wear label founded in 1972.

PITTI UOMO DEBUT: 1974

WHO: Niccolò Ricci, chief executive officer.

WHY PITTI UOMO: When my parents launched the company, the production was limited to ties. When we made our debut at Pitti in 1974, [buyers from] key department stores such as Neiman Marcus and Harrods discovered our offering and requested us to employ the same designs and quality also to produce shirts. From that moment we never missed an edition, convinced that this is the most important event for the category on a global scale.

BOOTH EVOLUTION: During these years, there have been many evolutions, linked to the need for space and to commercial and communication choices. But I have to point out one change that saw us [being a] protagonist of Pitti’s history. In 1986, while many textile and apparel companies were shifting their focus on Milan, my father involved a number of firms to prove that men’s fashion had to stay in Florence. His message was shared with the best Made-in-Italy manufacturers and to identify this initiative, this group of companies gathered under the name ‘Classico Italia,’ occupying the namesake area now located in the central pavilion.

PITTI UOMO’S CONTRIBUTION: It has been fundamental. In 1993 we opened our first flagship ever, which my father wanted in Shanghai. Since then, the company continued to serve multibrand [retailers] but increasingly thinking about having a presence in the world’s capitals.

PITTI UOMO’S DEVELOPMENT: From apparel trade show to global event, from being a place aimed at collecting orders to a space where twice a year the whole industry gets together to get a real sense of the business and category’s development. Our attendance at Pitti Uomo today is not aimed at getting new orders, but we have a responsibility and a debt of gratitude with this event that helped us grow and affirm ourselves in the world.

PITTI UOMO OF THE FUTURE: If the level of events offered in the future will remain as the one in this edition’s schedule, I think Florence will keep its international leadership. The trade show itself, without the support of prominent initiatives, would risk being too limited to commercial purposes, and deals can be easily made also in the showrooms. To walk through the stands, meet colleagues and see the new proposals presented by emerging brands and foreign countries, creates that microcosm that makes the difference.

Stefano Ricci's booth at Pitti Uomo in 2018.

Stefano Ricci’s booth at Pitti Uomo in 2018.  Courtesy Photo

 

4. BELVEST

Italian tailoring brand established in 1964.

PITTI UOMO DEBUT: 1972

WHO: Ruggero Beniero, commercial director.

WHY PITTI UOMO: Belvest has been exhibiting in Florence since the very beginning of Pitti Uomo because this event always marked the beginning of the selling season and the buyers hailing from all over the world were used to coming and seeing the evolution of the market and what was new in terms of style, fabrics and presentation of the products.

BOOTH EVOLUTION: The company started exhibiting in a small stand at the Palazzo degli Affari and then it moved to Fortezza da Basso. In the late Eighties it was one of the “Classico Italia” consortium’s founding companies and, as a result, it changed its location. Throughout the years, we moved from a closed booth to an open-space stand which visitors can access freely and where they can easily ask for information.

PITTI UOMO’S CONTRIBUTION: It enabled us to shift from mainly Italian distribution to a worldwide one: The first international client Belvest got was Barneys New York at the beginning of the Seventies, as Fred Pressman appreciated our tailoring production and ability in manufacturing items with an international fitting.

PITTI UOMO’S DEVELOPMENT: It had a great evolution, shifting from a basic trade show to a worldwide fashion happening, which is not just an exhibition but a real moment of information exchange across the different realities of our industry.

PITTI UOMO OF THE FUTURE: We expect to see a Pitti Uomo that stays loyal to its origins but constantly developing, offering exhibitors and buyers more and more innovative solutions with particular attention to the new ways of communication. We are experiencing an important and quick transition in this field so we always need to be on time — actually to a trade show we ask to anticipate these aspects.

Belvest's stand in the Nineties (above) and now (below).

Belvest’s stand in the Nineties (above) and now (below).  Courtesy Photo

 

5. LUBIAM

Men’s suit maker established in 1911 and offering collections under the names L.B.M. 1911, Luigi Bianchi Mantova Sartoria and Lubiam 1911 Cerimonia.

PITTI UOMO DEBUT: 1972

WHO: Giovanni Bianchi, chief executive officer and style department director.

WHY PITTI UOMO: Expectations are always high and year after year we renew our attendance with the hope and certainty we’re presenting our company and collection in a strategic place, which enables us to strengthen and consolidate the relationships with our clients and to create new opportunities with potential partners and suppliers. It’s a precious occasion to strengthen the contacts with a selection of fashion operators, create new synergies and intercept useful inputs. It’s unimaginable for us not to take part in this.

BOOTH EVOLUTION: In recent years we have tried to open even more our spaces, limiting partitioning walls to facilitate the flux and allow visitors to have a complete overview of our offering since the first moment they get in the stand. Compared to the past, now we focus on the communication and the presentation of our key collections, Luigi Bianchi Mantova Sartoria and L.B.M. 1911. We prefer to handle orders in a different moment, welcoming buyers on appointment in our Milan showroom.

PITTI UOMO’S CONTRIBUTION: The growth of the company went at the same pace as the fair’s, which has always enabled us to consolidate and expand the business, and meet new people, with new insight season after season. The trade show is our goal and our work tool in our strategies and it still represents a key moment to launch a collection and sales campaign.

PITTI UOMO’S DEVELOPMENT: For sure it has evolved in a digital dimension, creating many interactions and it will likely continue to develop this aspect to increase the services offered to companies and exploit the opportunities the web and social platforms grant. Digital experience and omnichannel will be more and more fundamental for visitors, exhibitors and press. During the years, the location of the different exhibiting areas in the fairground has improved for sure, as it got more rational and functional season after season. Then there’s its configuration as a package of special initiatives and prominent international events: It transcends the concept of trade show to become a fashion week. The strength of Pitti today lies in the mix of the attention dedicated to us exhibitors and the rich schedule of events that has contributed to increase the quality and perception of the fair in the eyes of the public and the industry’s operators.

PITTI UOMO OF THE FUTURE: I believe there will be ever increasing attention to the operators in the fair and their experience, perhaps further developing the playful dimension of the event, making the working moments even more pleasant and enhancing the time spent at Fortezza da Basso not only during the events, but also in the traditional tour through the stands.

An archival image of Lubiam's booth at Pitti Uomo.

An archival image of Lubiam’s booth at Pitti Uomo.  Courtesy Photo

 

6. INGRAM

Shirt specialist and part of the Inghirami Group company established in 1949.

PITTI UOMO DEBUT: 1972

WHO: Giovanni Inghirami, president of the group.

WHY PITTI UOMO: You need to imagine what the scenario was like 50 years ago. Far from Internet and globalization, there were really few opportunities for a brand to show its products. Pitti represented our chance to showcase our Ingram shirts in a broad context, already international back then. Throughout the years, we continued to take part in the trade show because it marks an important meeting moment with qualified operators [of the industry].

BOOTH EVOLUTION: It has changed as our group has expanded and now comprises other brands, including Reporter, along with Ingram. The offering has been extended to total looks, so given our new necessities, the stand’s dimension and position also changed.

PITTI UOMO’S CONTRIBUTION: It’s important as Pitti Uomo is the most qualified men’s trade show internationally. It’s a great window.

PITTI UOMO OF THE FUTURE: I imagine it will be always up-to-date and represent the encounter of worldwide operators.

An archival image of Ingram's booth at Pitti Uomo.

An archival image of Ingram’s booth at Pitti Uomo.  Courtesy Photo

 

7. VALSTAR

Milan-based outerwear label founded in 1911.

PITTI UOMO DEBUT: 1972

WHO: Matteo Bozzalla, brand manager.

WHY PITTI UOMO: We continued to renew our attendance because in just four days we can receive precious feedback and ideas from worldwide clients. Plus the companies attending Pitti are the most sophisticated and up-to-date, so we like to measure ourselves and talk with them about our common necessities.

BOOTH EVOLUTION: In the last years, we moved our stand from the Sala della Ronda to the Arena Strozzi pavilion to communicate even better our stylistic and brand evolution.

PITTI UOMO’S CONTRIBUTION: Pitti is essential for the development of our company as it guarantees a one-of-a-kind visibility on a global scale.

PITTI UOMO’S DEVELOPMENT: In the last years the show has further improved in terms of presence of foreign buyers, quality of exhibitors and efforts in communication and in the organization of the event.

PITTI UOMO OF THE FUTURE: An event/exhibition that enhances, highlights and explains the complexity of the different artisanal production steps behind each of the product categories showcased.

Valstar at Pitti Uomo.

Valstar at Pitti Uomo.  Courtesy Photo