Translated by
Nicola Mira
Jul 1, 2021
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Pitti Uomo show opens 100th edition with optimistic outlook

Translated by
Nicola Mira
Jul 1, 2021

The Pitti Uomo trade show has put on all its finery to celebrate holding a physical session again, as well as its 100th edition. The benchmark menswear show, being staged in Florence until July 1, exceptionally in parallel with childrenswear show Pitti Bimbo, opened on Wednesday not without a twinge of emotion. The main goal of course is to signal to the market that recovery is under way.

Exhibitors and buyers are flocking back to trade shows in Florence - Pitti Immagine

“Sending out a strong message was key, to show that we can pick up the thread again, especially looking ahead to next January. Even though the road to recovery will be a long one,” said Lapo Cianchi, Pitti Immagine’s director of communication and events, talking to FashionNetwork.com.

Textile yarns event Pitti Filati, which kicked off two days before at the Stazione Leopolda venue in the city, “went really well, with a strong international presence. It's a good omen. Meanwhile, we are staging Pitti Uomo again, and we’ve managed to attract, in less than two months, nearly 350 exhibitors,” added Cianchi.

The show is actually hosting 395 exhibitors, as opposed to 1,200 in normal circumstances, about 50 of whom have registered only for Pitti Connect, the event’s online version. “We only have a third of our usual exhibitors, with 112 of them coming from outside Italy, but they all put in a tremendous effort, with some wonderful stands. It will be a high-quality Pitti Uomo edition, one in which all exhibitors have invested considerably,” said Claudio Marenzi, president of show organiser Pitti Immagine.

Access to the event is strictly regulated: only the Covid-vaccinated or tested are allowed in. Every participant is given a bracelet, the white ones handed over to those who have been vaccinated being the open sesame to circulate freely during the event’s three days. 

Covid-vaccinated and tested visitors are given a bracelet pass to access the event's grounds - Pitti Immagine

There is a slightly dystopian feel to the route into the show, which is signposted by a series of gateways where human contact is minimised, from the use of a digital badge to activate the entrance turnstile to the machine that measures the participants’ temperature from a distance. The effect is heightened by messages regularly broadcast over the tannoys, urging visitors to wear masks inside the grounds, even outdoors.

And while the area outside the main entrance to the Fortezza da Basso, the event's venue, is nearly deserted, inside the Renaissance fortress the atmosphere is almost eerie. Indeed, quite a crowd of people is wandering around the show’s newly reconfigured aisles. Even Pitti People are back, these dandyish characters flaunting well-groomed, uber-curated looks, down to pocket squares and jaunty hats, and posing for pictures everywhere.

Inside the pavilions, the aisles have been widened to reduce contact. Yet, now they are meeting up again, visitors and exhibitors cannot avoid clustering in small groups here and there, not to mention the queues outside the restaurants at lunch time, almost giving the impression that nothing has changed. Soft music drifts around the fortress’ central forecourt, where a number of temporary stands have decked out their interiors in welcoming, very summery fashion.

“You feel a real desire to get going again. What's most striking is seeing again all the people we have missed in the course of over a year,” said Niccolo' Ricci, at the helm of luxury label Stefano Ricci, whose stand sits as usual in the central hall, alongside the other leading Italian menswear names. Not far from there, Brunello Cucinelli is busy welcoming a throng of visitors. “Our sales campaign already started in Milan a fortnight ago. This show is taking place a tad late. It's chiefly and only useful for seeing people again, for meeting them in person and having a chat,” said Cucinelli.

Business is picking up again at Pitti Uomo - Pitti Immagine

“This [edition of] Pitti Uomo signals a renaissance that is both physical and virtual,” believes Marenzi, who did not fail to warmly thank the public authorities attending the show’s inaugural conference for their support, from Florence’s mayor Dario Nardella to Italy’s Economic Development Minister Giancarlo Giorgetti. The latter attended Pitti Uomo for the first time, a mark of the Italian government’s support for two industries, fashion and the event organising sector, “that have suffered greatly owing to the pandemic.”

During the conference, Giorgetti underlined how Italy’s fashion industry in particular is worth €80 billion, and employs half a million people. Despite the crisis, the textile and apparel sector recorded a trade surplus of over €17 billion in 2020, being the leading contributor to the commercial balance of Italy's manufacturing sector.

However, these figures should not hide how harsh reality is for the industry, as emphasised by Marenzi: “In the last few quarters, fashion labels have bounced back, growing by 10-20%. But our supply chain is still very much under pressure. It absolutely needs to be bolstered, because there will only be a recovery if we support our artisans.”

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