Pitti Uomo’s gamble pays off
“Staging the show was absolutely justified. It had to be done,” declared Raffaello Napoleone. The Pitti Uomo show's boss didn’t have the slightest doubt about the decision to go ahead with the event no matter what, even though, only a few days ago, it looked like a risky gamble, considering the surge in Covid cases driven by the Omicron variant. “It was a challenge,” said the majority of participants, praising the Italian organisers’ bravery. It is now time to assess Pitti Uomo’s results: the Florentine event, the menswear season’s opener, ended on Thursday with many stands still very busy, and the initial figures released by organiser Pitti Immagine are confirming this.
According to data gathered by Pitti Immagine at about noon on the final day, the event, which combined the 101st edition of the world's premier menswear show with the Pitti Bimbo 94 show, dedicated to childrenswear, attracted in total 4,900 buyers, 30% of whom came from outside Italy. The final figure, once the rest of the visitors, from members of the press to industry representatives, agents and suppliers are added, is likely to reach 8,000, as Pitti Immagine stated in a press release.
European buyers came in numbers: 134 from France, 134 from the Netherlands, 123 from Spain, 118 from Germany, and many from the UK, Switzerland, Belgium and Turkey. The northern European contingent, from Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland, consisted of 60 buyers in total. A number of buyers came from the USA and Russia, and there were also a handful from China, Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong.
The event was held over three and not the customary four days, and hosted only half the usual number of exhibitors (548, as opposed to 1,200 for menswear and 170 for childrenswear). The exhibition area was nearly double what it was for last June’s session, the first Pitti had held in physical format since the start of the pandemic. Of course, no one was expecting a miracle, but the consensus is that the January session, showcasing the Fall/Winter 2022-23 collections, “was much better than expected.”
“We did much better than we anticipated, especially because the people who travelled to Florence were all highly motivated. Altogether, we attracted nearly a quarter of the 20,000 buyers who usually attend Pitti Uomo. It's easy to make the trip when everything is fine, and less so when times are tough. But this January edition came at exactly the time when we all had to be there to kickstart the recovery,” said Napoleone.
“We had to be there. It was a matter of respect for the industry as a whole, from suppliers to buyers. I thanked all those who came to our stand,” said Niccolò Ricci, head of luxury menswear label Stefano Ricci. “Predictions were apocalyptic. In the end, there were more people than last June,” he added. “It went better than expected,” said Vasiliy Piacenza, brand manager at Piacenza Cashmere. “We’re satisfied, we received a good deal of visitors and the collection was appreciated. Although there were only a few international buyers. We saw mostly [buyers] from Europe, none from the US or Asia,” added Piacenza.
“Taking part in this edition was important, to show all market players that we’re here. We attended in numbers, even if it was quite an investment. Sadly, the pandemic has yet again been a major factor,” said Antonio Carnevale, head of the Twentyone group, referring to the hundred or so exhibitors that withdrew at the last minute due to the pandemic, like Brunello Cucinelli, and to the many buyers who did not attend. “Pitti is a really important event. But during the show we mostly saw industry professionals like representatives and agents. Buyers, in other words our clients, the essence of our work, were missing,” added Carnevale.
At the show, FashionNetwork.com came across Geoffroy Lauzet, in charge of menswear and digital fashion at Pitti Immagine's French competitor Tranoï. He acknowledged that Pitti Uomo “has grown significantly compared to the June edition.” But he was concerned about formal wear and heritage brands. “They are the heart of Pitti. [Pitti Immagine] obviously had to prioritise its main clients. But now there are fewer new brands and not much in the way of novelty. Though on the whole, exhibitors seem satisfied,” he concluded.
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