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Blooming Pitti Uomo brings buyers out in force

The Florentine sun beat down on crowds of buyers, bold stands and even bolder dressers as Pitti Immagine Uomo kicked off the spring 18 international trade show season on a first day brimming with positivity from brands and buyers alike.

Giant floral banners dominated the courtyard at the famous Fortezza da Basso, where menswear trade show Pitti Uomo runs on 13-16 June, reflecting this year’s theme of “Pitti in Bloom”. There was a relaxed, almost holiday-like atmosphere as buyers sauntered from room to room, scouting out the brands on show while the sun shone brightly outside.

Big names such as PS Paul Smith and Tommy Hilfiger, both of whom came back to the show for a second season after returning for autumn 17, dominated the walkways with their loud presences, as plenty of newness in product attracted buyers to the stands. While the Hilfiger denim customisation station in the Fortezza’s old tower drew crowds, Z Zegna provided a tempting lure with a nautical-themed showcase that featured an impressive wall of pouring rain – a welcome respite for sun-baked visitors.

Alongside nautical references, pale pastels – particularly pistachio green and rose tones – were another key trend of the day, as seen at Farah, Fred Perry and Richard James among others. 

The atmosphere was generally positive. Many exhibitors reflected on Pitti’s importance in the trade show calendar for attracting top tier European and international buyers and, although the UK delegation was less prominent today, they are expected to arrive in greater numbers tomorrow. Buyers were seen from Italy, Russia, Japan and Australia.

New to the show this year was the ‘Make’ hall, which featured artisan creators from around the world. These included Lamler, a new British outerwear company showing at Pitti for the first time. Lamler founder Helen Plummer said that while the hall was placed quite far from the entrance, they had seen some “big player” buyers making the rounds later in the afternoon.

Mood of the show

Fiona Oakes Brand manager, Penrose London

Pitti is the most important menswear show in the calendar for us. We’re a relatively small brand and it’s great for exposure. We tend to see our Japanese customers for the first time each season at Pitti, as well as European buyers and some from the US and Mexico as well.

Charlotte Blackmore Design and marketing director, Chrysalis England

As an outerwear brand, the January shows are more important for us – but we’re still hoping to have a good show at Pitti this season. We find that in summer, people write fewer orders, but come to see you to learn more about the brand and will then follow up afterwards. So far the show has very much been as expected, and we know it will get busier tomorrow.

We always have a positive Pitti, but that’s because I don’t think you can beat British styling. British manufacturing comes with a certain kudos, and I think other countries understand British craftsmanship a bit more than some on the high street.

Suzie Cunningham Wholesale for PS Paul Smith

The show this season has had a completely different vibe from the winter show, and it’s been really good so far. We’ve seen all European buyers today – the UK ones normally come on the second day. Pitti isn’t about writing orders for us, it’s all about publicity, brand awareness and getting the new branding out there.

John Laster Part-owner and new business director, Stutterheim

Today has been fantastic. Pitti is always our best show and it’s always busy. It used to be that the show was more of an autumn focus for us, but that is changing as the traditional seasons are becoming less dominant. We see customers from everywhere in the world – we’ve seen top Italian buyers, and we need to see our customers from the US. So far there have been around five to 10 UK buyers on the stand, but it’s not about orders for us, it’s about showcasing the collection.

Nicola Mercatali Italy lifestyle category manager at New Balance

We have found in recent years that there aren’t as many buyers on the first day of the show, but the second and third days are more crowded, and this is true of today. While we are not facing an easy situation in the market, there has been a very positive mood so far. We’ve been getting many more foreign visitors, particularly from the Far East, Japan and Russia, where Italy remains a benchmark for consumers.

Helen Plummer Founder and creative director at outerwear brand Lamler

Things here are starting to pick up now. It was quiet in the beginning, but it does take a while for people to make their way to our location. We’ve seen a couple of the bigger players coming round.

Olok Banerjee Commercial manager at Savile Row brand Richard James

It’s early, but the mood is positive. There are good buyers here that you don’t get in London. While there are some UK buyers here, they’re mostly from the US and the Far East

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