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Comment: Pitti autumn 18 packs a punch

The new buying season kicked off with the first international trade show Pitti Uomo last week (9-12 January), as menswear buyers from across the globe flocked to Florence to see the latest collections. 

As the autumn 18 buying season kicked off buyers from across the globe flocked to Pitti Uomo in Florence to see the latest men’s collections. A rainy first day did not deter visitors from Japan, the US, Russia and Europe strutting across the Fortezza da Basso in search of new styles. Brands and buyers alike praised Pitti as being the jewel in the international trade show crown.

Terence Duckworth, co-founder of agency Pop-up Showroom, representing Moose Knuckles, said: “Now that trade show Bread & Butter in Berlin is gone, Pitti is without doubt the most international show in Europe. We see great-quality buyers from around the world.” 

Across many stands – among the usual autumnal tones of black, navy and khaki – flashes of bright orange could be seen, including Paul & Shark, Peak Performance and Finnish label Makia, and on exhi-bitors themselves. High-performance parkas featured heavily once again in many collections. 

A very busy sunny second day brought the infamous “Pitti peacocks” out in force as Drapers battled our way through crowds of photographers snapping street styles. Packed aisles led to busy stands where  many brands were writing orders – an unusual occurrence at many shows these days. 

Jo Doran, European wholesale manager at RM Williams, said: “We’ve written some orders and opened new accounts, so it has been great for us. It’s a good opportunity for us to get our name out there, as we’re still relatively new in the European market. The people we want to see all come to Pitti.”

While some buyers questioned the number of new labels exhibiting and noted the absence of heavy hitters such as Tommy Hilfiger and Paul Smith, brands were keen to highlight newness in the form of collaborations and innovations in sustainability. 

Investment in large stands was evident from exhibitors – for example, Birkenstock’s urban jungle house, Karl Lagerfeld’s sleek black box and Denham’s celebration of its 10th anniversary. The I Play hall – home to young labels including Farah, Lyle & Scott and Clarks Originals – was particularly busy. 

Overall, it was a positive edition with a buzzy atmosphere, reinforcing Pitti Uomo’s reputation as one of the strongest exhibitions on the trade show calendar.

The view from the stands 

Leon Graham, UK and Ireland sales manager, Canada Goose

Pitti has been really busy for us and we have seen a lot of UK buyers, as well as some big accounts from the US, like Saks and Barneys. There is a good buzz here this season. We come here as we want to be seen as fashion as well as a functional brand. It’s a great way to get the story of the brand across, even if we don’t write a lot of orders at the show.

Marc Querol, brand manager at agency Double H, representing Eden Park

We have really built up momentum over the last season with Eden Park and improved the quality of the ranges. In general, buyers are being cautious and independents in particular need to invest in smaller, less well known brands to stand out from department store competitors.

Richard Prosser, senior sales territory manager, Lyle & Scott

The stand has been very busy. We’ve seen a lot of premium indies from the UK, as well as Dutch, Russian and German retailers. The UK is steady for us and we’re seeing a lot of growth internationally. This season for spring we created a collection just for indies to give them a point of difference from department stores – it has gone down really well with buyers.

Tony Evans, managing director at British footwear group Jacobson, showing Gola

We don’t need four-day trade shows. For Pitti, the middle two days are usually the busiest and the last day is always dead. We usually see a lot of distributors here so it’s a good chance to meet up, as well as seeing new and existing customers, mainly from Europe and Russia.

Alessandro Petrelli, head of sales, Orlebar Brown

We have showrooms for the brand around the world, including London, New York and Paris, which is where we take the majority of our appointments, but we come to Pitti to meet everyone and show off the brand. We’ve seen buyers from around Europe, including the Netherlands, Germany and of course the domestic Italian market, but we’ve also seen buyers from the US. It isn’t usually so much about customers writing orders here but building relationships.

Brigitte Hardt, global sales director, Hanro

Coming to Pitti is absolutely worthwhile for us. We’ve had some really good meetings across the show and have seen buyers from places as far away as Japan. Are buyers feeling confident? I think the answer is yes and no. Although trade in December was troubling for some, good shops are doing well and there will always be demand from customers for good quality, timeless product.

Hans Davidson, CEO, Eton

As a brand, we’ve been coming to Pitti for over 15 years. It’s very important that we come here, because we can showcase the brand to customers from all around the world. There are also lots of Italian brands here, and we can all come together and see what’s happening in the market. For many, the past year has been tough, but we’re up on last year and the business is doing well. In general, the buyers’ we’ve seen have been feeling positive and seem to feel there’s a bright future ahead for the industry.


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