Exhibitors and buyers have described the decision to press ahead with the spring 21 edition of menswear trade show Pitti Uomo as a “bold move”, but predict its organiser will be pressured to cancel altogether.
The show was due to take place on 16-19 June at Fortezza da Basso in Florence. Last week organiser Pitti Immagine announced it will be postponed until 2-4 September at the same venue. Childrenswear show Pitti Bimbo will move from 25-27 June to 9-10 September.
Italy has the highest number of fatalities from coronavirus in the world.
Marc Querol, senior wholesale and communication manager at fashion agency Double H Agency, which represents brands including Eden Park and S4 Jackets, described the postponement as “disappointing” for the fashion industry: “Pitti is always the kick-off for trends and for the season, when all buyers get the first ideas and also catch the trends of the season. Being postponed, it looks like the show will lose that.”
Other attendees predicted that, even if buyers and exhibitors overcome their fears about travelling to Italy, the coronavirus crisis will leave many in a weak financial position.
Querol added: “I believe that people will be still scared to travel to Italy and also to travel anywhere. We have some brands that are attending and exhibiting, and as far as we know all of them are reconsidering what to do, due to the time of the year and what you can get at that time when usually the season is almost finished.”
One independent buyer agreed: “I can understand why they have postponed to September, but that has to still be viewed as provisional. From conversations we have been having with our brand partners, nobody is committing to anything, and any ideas are a work in progress. Much depends when the lockdown is lifted, not just in the UK.
“I cannot overstate how fragile the economy will be after lockdown. The retailers that do survive will be in a weak financial position and that is not something that can be adjusted in one or two seasons.
“The last thing retailers need is to view product they don’t need and can’t afford. Which begs the question: what retailer wants spring 21 product?”
Other shows due to exhibit over the coming months have also been postponed or rescheduled, including Splash Paris, which is now expected to run on 3-5 October, and Make it British, which has been postponed until further notice.
However, one UK exhibitor described the decision to press ahead with Pitti as a “bold move”: “I think given the undoubted delays and impact in brands’ spring 21 critical paths for sampling etc, it would have been a sparse show in terms of product had they kept the original dates.
“However, with several other manufacturing hubs closed or closing as we speak, it is still a bold move to press on. Many attendees and companies will be hopefully just getting back on their feet and assessing the damage.
“Also, Italy currently has the unfortunate stigma attached to it as a hub for the virus, especially in the north.”
Several attendees have called for the show to be cancelled, following the cancellation of other events, such as Graduate Fashion Week, which was due to take place in east London this summer, Made in France Première Vision and Première Vision New York Designs show, both due to take place in April.
“Very simply, it is too late and clearly should be cancelled for SS21,” another UK brand exhibiting told Drapers. “International buyers will mainly not be able to or bother to go and will wait until the January show. Those that do [attend] will have no budget anyway. Most exhibitors have already paid in advance for their stand, this way the organisers avoid refunds.”
One premium UK brand agreed: “I am surprised [organisers] think that the September show will be helpful, and I suspect they will find huge pressure to cancel altogether.”
However, another exhibitor said: “From an optimistic viewpoint, if the world gets back to normality faster, the show may be a critical show for brands to showcase their wares.”
Raffaello Napoleone, CEO of Pitti Immagine, told Drapers: “Over the last few weeks we have obviously been in constant and close contact with manufacturing companies in Italy and abroad, as well as with other players operating in the textile-fashion sectors.
“The strong request that emerged was to maintain at all costs the leading rendezvous like the Pitti Uomo and all our fairs which will be the first fundamental instruments to be activated in order to gradually get the entire commercial fashion industry machine going again. And that is what we will be working on non-stop over the next few months.”