Pitti Uomo 102 gets off on the right foot
Pitti Uomo’s selection of more than 600 high-quality Italian and international brands displayed under the Tuscan sun made for a beautiful program. Not to mention the opening dinner, organized the day before by Pitti Uomo in the splendid Palazzo Strozzi attended by 250 guests, who for the first time in a long time were not wearing masks. The first day of the 102nd edition of the Florentine menswear trade show dedicated to Spring/Summer 2023 collections on Tuesday did not disappoint.
The Fortezza da Basso hosting the event not only saw the return of streetstyle photographers and elegant people strolling the venue’s aisles with flair, but also agents and international buyers. "They came in large quantities. I saw many of them scattered throughout all the pavilions. There was a good turnout," said the trade fair’s general manager, Agostino Poletto.
"This edition is nothing like the January edition," said Edwin Battestini of the Spanish sneaker brand Mikakus. “Since this morning we have seen international visitors. There are Italian multi-brand retailers, European agents. It's much more dynamic.”
Bettina Fontana, founder of Italian shoe brand Off Play added: “We have customers who come as well as visitors, who are not yet working with us. As we are looking for new distributors and agents, the start of the fair has been very good for us."
However, the trade show has not yet been able to return to its pre-pandemic level. Some of the halls occupied in the past have not yet reopened, and even if some brands such as AlphaTauri, North Sails, American Vintage, Ecoalf, Marc'o Polo or Kiton present very well-designed stands, the general scenography of the fair around the Pitti_Island theme is fitting considering the more than 30°C weather, but a bit basic.
"It is the reference trade show for high-end fashion, there's no way around it. But we are looking to find partners to expand in Asia, and unfortunately, the players in these markets are not yet back", explained the management team of the Italian brand Ama.
"This edition is a bit smaller than in previous seasons, but I don't mind. Before, when Pitti Uomo had more than 1,000 exhibitors, there was too much confusion. Now it's easier to get an overview," said Paolo Testoni, owner of multi-brand store Centro Moda Parma in Parma. However, a quick browse during this first day allowed him to see that "all brands have increased their prices".
In addition to this trend, brands are also requesting early orders, which is not always well received by retailers, who are still wary in view of the current uncertain situation. "The season has certainly been better compared to last year. People want to go out, celebrate, gather. We've received a lot of demand in terms of formal wear. On the other hand, due to the shortage of raw materials and rising prices, brands are taking longer to deliver and require that we place orders well in advance,” said Marco Inzerillo who heads the men's boutique Michele Inzerillo Palermo.
"To guarantee us correct deliveries, companies are forcing us to buy randomly between May and June, as opposed to the usual months of July and August. I've already spent almost 50% of my budget," he continued. This is a major issue for exhibitors. Given the uncertain inflation outlook and after a complicated spring season in European stores, will multi-brand retailers be ready to add new products to their shelves?
Silvano Gherardi of the Flanella chain in Imola agreed. "It's true that we are seeing prices rise, but we are lucky to be able to rely on tourists, who are coming in great numbers. Instead, our enemies are the big fashion companies that are everywhere and produce everything with little or no creativity or quality. We prefer to bet on research," said the Pitti Uomo regular who has participated in 85 editions.
For the time being, the atmosphere in Florence is clearly upbeat, with a smiling, multilingual audience bringing a breath of fresh air after several lackluster seasons. It remains to be seen whether this optimism will be reflected on Thursday evening when the sales order books close.
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