Pitti Uomo’s 103rd edition kicks off with a bang
After the rain, the sun shines. On Tuesday, the Pitti Uomo menswear show kicked off under stunningly sunny blue skies. As soon as the doors opened, a thick crowd of visitors rushed in among the well-curated stands and spacious aisles within the Fortezza da Basso venue in Florence. The Florentine menswear show, held from January 10 to 13, has not yet returned to its pre-Covid participation levels. This edition features 789 exhibitors compared to nearly 1,200 in 2019, but the mood is still optimistic, with nearly 10,000 visitors expected.
“Participation numbers do not worry us, because we remain the benchmark for menswear [trade shows] thanks to our striving for excellence, the selection we offer to buyers, and the ideal balance we strike between established labels and new names,” said Claudio Marenzi, president of trade show organiser Pitti Immagine, speaking at the inaugural conference. He also thanked for their support the various public authorities present, from Italy’s under-secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Giorgio Silli to Florence mayor Dario Nardella. The latter was notably congratulated for the renovation work carried out by the city at the Fortezza da Basso. A huge rebuilding job, that so far has not prevented the show from going ahead, and will still affect four major pavilions in the coming years.
“We experienced some very tough times, but we’re still here. We were the only trade show that was held again as soon as [the pandemic ended], first online, then physically. Russian and Chinese visitors are still missing, but we can count on a strong buyer presence from Europe, South-East Asia and the USA. Judging from our advance [ticket] sales, we expect a remarkable edition, although we are of course concerned by international issues like war, inflation, the energy crisis and possible tensions in Asia,” said Marenzi, who underlined that Italy remains one of Europe’s leading fashion countries.
Italy’s textile and apparel industries as a whole were worth over €100 billion in 2022, with a trade surplus of €28 billion. Menswear generated a revenue of €11.3 billion, up 20.5% over 2021 and also higher than the €10.1 billion generated in 2019. Growth was “fostered by average price [increases], but also and primarily by exports, which recorded double-digit increases across the board, even if there remain issues with Russia and China,” said Sergio Tamborini, president of Sistema Moda Italia (SMI), the manufacturers association grouping together all textile and apparel producers in Italy.
Between January and September 2022, Italian ready-to-wear sales to the USA jumped by 70.9%, those to South Korea by 40.3%, to France and Austria by 31%, to Spain by 29.4% and to Germany by 24.9%. “A year ago, the atmosphere was very different,” said Tamborini, who also mentioned the major challenges facing Italian manufacturers in particular and fashion in general.
“We are in [permanent crisis], constantly dealing with instability. Moreover, our sector produces 180 billion items of clothing per year. Output volumes that can hardly continue at this level. We are at a turning point. The biggest challenge for us is to combine growth with sustainability and responsibility. Pitti Uomo is playing a key role in moving our thinking forward,” he added.
Antonella Mansi, president of the Centro di Firenze per la Moda Italiana (the Florence centre for Italian fashion, the semi-public holding company that controls Pitti Immagine), summed up the situation by saying that “the economic recovery seems to be tentative, but the fundamentals are very good and we have several cards to play,” rejoicing also at the “powerful energy that could be felt on [the show’s] first day.”
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