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Footfall picks up at Pitti Uomo after slow start

Footfall picked up on the second day of Pitti Immagine Uomo in Florence, as UK and Irish buyers arrived alongside significant numbers from Europe, Japan, South Korea, the US and South Africa.

Attendance on Tuesday, the opening day of the spring 16 edition, was affected by buyers staying in London for London Collections: Men and by a train strike that disrupted travel from Pisa airport to Florence. Exhibitors agreed, however, that today got off to much busier start.

Outerwear specialist Gloverall noted the presence of UK buyers from premium retailers such as Flannels and Psyche. “We think more British buyers will roll in today after LCM,” said sales director Mark Smith.

“We have seen a big influx of Canadians and buyers from the US and Japanese department stores, as well as buyers from Korea who are particularly keen on our heritage duffle coats. We have already taken orders from Japan and a new Spanish customer.”

US backpack brand Eastpak was focusing on showcasing its premium lifestyle products to the European market, in particular Italian menswear independents.

“Eastpak’s three key markets are France, Germany and Italy, so Pitti is the biggest show to target key European accounts. However, there is lots of potential to grow the brand in the UK,” said Paul Smallpage, Eastpak’s brand manager for UK and Ireland at London-based distributor Zone Two.

“We’ve seen buyers from Van Mildert, Oi Polloi, Cruise, Flannels and John Lewis.”

Jim McDonnell, owner of contemporary Irish independent Tony McDonnell in Dundalk, uses the show to meet up with his key brands all in one place. “Pitti Uomo is the best show in the world. It’s commercial, but with a special Italian flair and I get to meet all the brands I stock across my two stores like Universal Works, YMC, Oliver Spencer, Tiger of Sweden, Happy Socks and Gant.”

Alongside premium independents, major retailers made the trip to Florence, according to Adam Weir, head of design at lifestyle brand Original Penguin. “We’ve had buyers on the stand from House of Fraser. A lot of the major US buyers confirmed they’ll be attending the show. Compared with shows like Liberty in New York and Vegas, Pitti Uomo is less about placing orders and more about touching base with our customers. That being said, we’ve taken an order from Sweden.”

Premium brand Oliver Spencer was looking to target Italian retailers. “Italy definitely has the most prolific independent menswear business in the world and we do particularly well with tailoring and shirting, which appeals to the Italian taste,” said commercial director Peter Lynes.

“While Tuesday was steady and mostly Italian buyers, Wednesday was busier, attracting buyers from the UK, US and Australia.”

Nottingham-based contemporary casualwear brand Universal Works is also hoping to raise its profile in Europe.

“We have taken orders from Italian, Spanish and German buyers from premium high-end independents,” confirmed director Stephanie Porritt. “This is the third time we’ve shown in Florence and I think it’s important as a show people take seriously and which has raised our profile.”

For performance outerwear brand K100 Karrimor, the Asian market is a key focus. “We are really interested in international markets like Japan, Korea and Singapore, where they love the heritage of the brand,” said consultant Stephen Atkinson.

“Whereas Tuesday was slower, footfall has picked up on Wednesday. We are mainly seeing European, Japanese and Korean buyers.”

The four-day event was the 88th edition of Pitti Uomo and attracted almost 1,200 brands. More than 30,000 visitors were expected in total as Drapers went to press.

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