NEW YORK — New, new and more new.
That’s what it’s going to take for retailers to prosper in an increasingly competitive environment, according to Raffaello Napoleone, chief executive officer of Pitti Immagine srl.
At the biannual Pitti Uomo luncheon here Friday, Napoleone pointed to the trade show’s history as a launch pad for some major designer brands, and said the 89th edition, scheduled for Jan. 12 to 15 in Florence, will be no exception.
He said the “artisans of the future,” or the “new makers,” will be the “main players” this season. “Scouting young designers and opening them up to the rest of the world are two cornerstone themes for the upcoming Pitti Uomo,” Napoleone said.
As a result, the show will offer up an expanded “Make” section, dedicated to “fashion with highly artisanal content.” It will showcase 40 brands offering exclusive and sometimes limited-edition items.
The choice of the men’s featured designer, Juun.J, is also a part of that initiative. The Korean designer is from “one of the most important, fastest-growing markets for fashion today,” Napoleone said, and his showing at Pitti Uomo is expected to expose him to more retailers.
He also pointed to the two Pitti Italics designers who will be highlighted at this edition: knitwear designer Vittorio Branchizio and former Ermanno Scervino and Iceberg designer Federico Curradi, who is introducing his own men’s wear line at the show.
For the first time, the men’s wear finals for the International Woolmark Prize will take place at Pitti Uomo. The six brands competing are Munsoo Kwon from South Korea, Agi & Sam from the British Isles, Jonathan Christopher from the Netherlands, Siki Im from the U.S., P. Johnson from Australia and Suketdhir from India.
Adidas Originals by White Mountaineering will be highlighted in the Designer Project and there will be an expanded offering of fashion brands from Africa, Constellation Africa, presented in collaboration with the ITC Ethical Fashion Initiative.
“We need to offer new opportunities for business,” Napoleone said, noting that investing in new designers and brands is the “next frontier” for trade shows and fashion show organizers.
He said that although the worldwide economy is growing, the manner of consumption among consumers continues to shift. “It’s dramatically changing,” he said, pointing to the high double-digit growth rates experienced by e-commerce firms as well as the explosion of outlets around the globe.
While he believes brick-and-mortar stores will continue to have a place, they need to take a lesson from the food industry and focus on “small, well-done, specialized” offerings instead of massive, widely distributed merchandise.
Turning to Italy, Napoleone said that sales of Italian fashion and accessories in 2015 are expected to account for 40 percent of the entire European industry, or in excess of 74 billion euros, or $79.6 billion at current exchange. Apparel, leather goods and footwear account for 86 percent of this number, with eyewear and jewelry making up the remaining 14 percent.
Sales growth of Italian brands is expected to hit 5 percent this year, he added, with exports increasing 7 percent to an expected 60.5 billion euros, or $65 billion. This is 25 percent of all European exports, he said.
All told, Pitti Uomo is expected to showcase 1,205 brands, 520 of which are from outside of Italy. There will be 225 new brands at this edition. Napoleone said 24,000 buyers attended the last fall edition, 36 percent of whom came from abroad.