Ercole Botto Poala (Milano Unica): “Standing still today is a mistake"

Milano Unica opens this Tuesday July 11, setting the tone for its revolution. The most important trade fair for Italian fabrics, held at the fair grounds of the Rho Milano Fiera on the outskirts of Milan, will run through Thursday July 13. The show will present the 2018-19 winter collections two months ahead of its traditional September date, much earlier in the season than other textile fairs. The shows president Ercole Botto Poala talked with FashionNetwork.com about this bold decision.

Ercole Botto Poala - Milano Unica


FashionNetwork: Why did you decide on this revolutionary rescheduling?
 
Ercole Botto Poala:
 Some markets have to anticipate future seasons. I am talking about the large groups and luxury brands, which control their own distribution chains, especially in menswear. In addition, the world of fashion is evolving, as the Fashion Weeks demonstrate. The luxury maisons, which are our primary customers, are testing all sorts of new formats. We therefore decided to move up our dates so that the fair would take place in the best conditions for carrying out these experiments.
 
FNW: Are not you afraid of taking a big risk? Everyone will not necessarily be ready so early in the season.

 EBP: The decision was made based on the request of all our mills. We have also expanded our target audience to companies specialized in fabrics for women's ready-to-wear and sportswear. We had a more than positive response, with 77 new exhibitors, a 20% increase compared to the September 2016 edition. Given the upheavals in fashion at the moment, I think that standing still today is a mistake. It is better to be wrong by doing something than doing nothing at all! This is the philosophy of our companies.
 
FNW: But isn't it the case that not all of them are organized to complete their collections in July?

EBP:  It is true that this first edition in July will require that everyone make an extra effort. But once the new rhythm has been established, it will be easier. For this reason, we went to each Italian textile district to explain our project and the importance of staging the show in July with real collections and not pre-collections so as not to lose our credibility.
 
FNW: How do you position yourself in relation to Première Vision?

EBP: These are two totally different models. First of all, we are not a private entity. The mills are our shareholders. What's more, Première Vision aims to present itself with an expanded offering of all levels and niches of the market, while Milano Unica is a show focused on excellence. We do not have the same positioning.
 
FNW: Are you considering advancing the dates of your February session?

EBP: It is more complicated because there is much less leeway. It is out of the question to hold Milano Unica at Christmas or before the Pitti Uomo, which is traditionally the first dance of the season. If there is a change, it will only involve a few weeks and will be done in coordination with the other made-in-Italy shows and institutions. We are currently discussing the issue with the main players in the sector. In any case, no change is planned for 2018.

Translated by Susan Spies

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