Pitti Uomo continues evolution into lifestyle platform
The Pitti Uomo menswear show’s June 2019 edition ended in Florence last Friday, after an intense four-day session that was a success despite the 3% downturn in visitors compared to June 2018. Pitti Uomo 96 was attended by 18,500 buyers, of whom 8,200 came from about 100 countries outside Italy (foreign buyers numbered 8,400 last year). Yet, this summer edition will go down in history, not just because of the lavish events held in parallel with the show across the city of Florence, but also and in particular thanks to the spate of initiatives staged within the show’s Fortezza da Basso venue.
Thanks to the redesigned setting of the huge Renaissance fortress’ central court, home every season to over 1,200 exhibitors, the event has been transformed into a huge, vibrant city square, ideal for networking and meeting new contacts. For the first time, the 1,000 m2 esplanade in front of the Fortezza's central pavilion was made accessible to exhibitors and visitors. The setting was designed by lifestyle consultant Sergio Colantuono to look like a village square, punctuated by patches of vegetation and bordered entirely by a walkway elevated on stilts, sheltered from the sunshine by a hut-style canvas awning fringed with straw.
On three sides of the esplanade, street-food counters and corners - not to mention a set of swings - were busy throughout the event with a constant stream of visitors. A huge digital screen was installed along one side, broadcasting images of a virtual waterfall to a soundtrack blending the murmur of rushing water, tropical bird calls and a tiger's roar, for an exotic summer effect. The video wall overlooked a double runway, enabling events and catwalk shows to be staged in the square.
Among them, the first show organised by Pitti Uomo for one of its 10 sections, ‘I Go Out’, dedicated to outdoor brands. Printed invitations, music, a high-impact stage design featuring, for each set, the projection of a giant landscape image: it was a fully fledged catwalk show, presenting some 20 looks by the section’s 25 exhibitors, including Nomadic State Of Mind, Raeburn, Woolrich and Sundek Golden Wave.
“We chose outdoor wear, one of the season’s main themes, with labels whose outdoor roots interact with fashion. We would like to repeat this presentation in future editions,” said Agostino Poletto, the show’s general manager.
“[Pitti Uomo] has always hosted events within the show, including mini runway shows, but with different formats. We are adapting the format each time, based on the season’s setting. It’s a new way of adding sparkle to the event and making it different, since traditional systems are outmoded. Exhibitors were overjoyed. The project gave them the opportunity to communicate their message through a new type of content,” said the boss of Pitti Uomo, Raffaello Napoleone.
The debates and conferences scheduled during Pitti Uomo’s 96th edition attracted sizeable audiences, and the event was notable also for a unique initiative by Italian department store Coin. The latter hosted existing suppliers, as well as several labels coming forward to make their first contact, inside an extensive lounge-style area during the show's four days.
“We wanted to send a signal to our partners and reach out across the entire value chain, present [at Pitti Uomo] with manufacturers, labels, agents and retailers,” said Coin. It was also a way for the Italian department store group to get in touch with potential foreign partners, since Coin is keen to grow its international footprint via Coincasa, its chain dedicated to home decoration.
All in all, despite the decrease in attendance, Pitti Uomo’s organisers were satisfied with the results. “This is a tough year; everyone is aware of it. The main indicators for international trade are showing a slow-down virtually everywhere. A phenomenon that is inevitable when the world’s economy is experiencing a strong slump,” stated Napoleone in the event's final press release.
“In terms of Pitti Uomo, thanks to our solid leadership position, we stood our ground very well: some key markets grew, such as France, Turkey, Hong Kong, Belgium and Russia, others posted a slight downturn, like Germany, Spain, Japan, the USA and Italy,” added Napoleone, who nevertheless ended on an optimistic note: “Distribution is going through a complete overhaul under our very eyes: nowadays, the buyers of major e-tailers have as much influence as dozens of specialised stores had a few years ago. Let's remain optimistic then, and consider the facts realistically.”
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