Record numbers of visitors and an increase in both domestic and international buyers made for a vibrant and lively spring 18 edition of Milan womenswear trade show White.
Despite official Milan Fashion Week spectacles from brands such as Gucci, Prada and Versace grabbing attention in the Italian city last week, if you found yourself in the area’s “fashion district” along Via Tortana you will have discovered another vibrant hub of activity at womenswear trade show White on 22-25 September.
As the sun shone across the spring 18 edition’s newly extended four days, spirits were high and buyers flocked to the show in record numbers. Overall buyer attendance increased 31% from this edition last year, while Italian buyers were up by 22% and international buyers by 40%.
The crowds of visitors – 26,611 in total – packed out the event’s various venues, and queues formed at entrances and particularly popular stands at its busiest times. It created an upbeat and buzzing atmosphere, but the fourth and final day was slower and wound down early in the afternoon.
The show exhibited a record number of 532 brands, which ranged from new and emerging to well established, from directional and artisanal through to cool, contemporary and mainstream, and covered womenswear, footwear, accessories and jewellery, as well as a small lifestyle area for candles, fragrances and beauty products.
1 overview white milan (2)
While Italian labels dominated the show (368 of the 532), there were plenty of international brands, and special areas were dedicated to labels from countries such as Belgium, Portugal and Kazakhstan. Read Drapers pick of the best brands here.
The show was spread out over four light, bright and well-appointed neighbouring buildings along the busy road Via Tortana, which is also home to a large amount of pop-up and permanent showrooms from a variety of brands. It lacked the impressive – or imposing, depending on your view – visual scale of huge corporate exhibition events such as Pure London, or the Copenhagen and Berlin trade shows. However, the white boxes of the show’s main areas, humble in size yet filling every floor, room, basement and balcony of the large buildings, buzzed with activity and created a much more intimate and social, if slightly maze-like, feeling.
Much praise was given to the show from both exhibitors and visitors: the quality of buyers, the number of orders written, the standard and mix of brands, the liveliness of the event (aided by the lovely sunshine, plenty of coffee stalls and the dedicated White Radio playing music throughout), but also for its new initiatives and interesting elements.
For example, a new venue, Tortana 31, housed a cluster of rooms and outdoor spaces that were furnished with beautiful design-led furniture and laid out like a house or apartment. It created a premium yet relaxed mood that felt different from a traditional trade show, and was similar to initiatives already seen at shows such as CIFF in Copenhagen.
Elsewhere, the Red Area helpfully grouped new brands either showing at White for the first time, or debuting for the spring 18 season. White Studio also played with the trade show concept – a corridor of hotel-like rooms was dedicated to different smaller brands, enabling the labels to create small branded worlds or mini showrooms to engage with visitors one on one.
Outside of the specifically dedicated and named areas, the arrangement of the brands did seem somewhat random. More could be done to try and differentiate between the various rooms, halls and locations to help better guide visitors around the vast show and to its most relevant sections.
With both British brands and UK buyers thin on the ground, White Milan does provide an opportunity for Brits. If you are a UK brand looking for customers from Italy, or even further afield, the increase in both local and international buyers at this season’s edition proves its popularity with buyers. The quality and variety of brands on show, many of whom are not currently stocked in the UK, means British womenswear buyers also have a plethora of brands to choose from that might help give their offer a much-needed point of difference from their competitors.
Views from the show
Simon Burstein Founder, The Place London
As a retailer I like for my eye to see everything that’s going on, so that’s why I come to Milan. You can really see what stands out when you see it in a trade show context, too – which brands are doing something different – so it’s interesting to come to White and see what stands out. White is a good show – the standard and quality of brands is generally good with some nice emerging brands. It’s buzzing in Milan now. It feels like there’s real growth here again.
Amelie Lancian International sales director, Closed
We have seen mostly Italian buyers and for those local stores it has been very successful for us. It is our first time showing here and it has been really great. We’ve seen lots of old Italian stores, ones that we already know about or have had relationships with, but we have also met a number of new, next-generation buyers and stores, which has been very encouraging.
Martina Spetlova Founder, Martina Spetlova
I’ve met a number of interesting buyers here, which has been great. Lots of Italians, but also a lot of Chinese buyers. We’re in a new part of the show so I think regular visitors are just getting used to it. The space [at Tortana 31] is really great because it feels more intimate and interesting. It is our first time at White but I’m happy to be exhibiting here.
Sadie Clayton Founder, Sadie Clayton
White Milan is great. We’ve seen mainly local buyers and some international, but would be good to see a few more international. The new trade show space [at Tortana 31] is beautiful – it doesn’t really feel like a trade show. I am happy that we came here, even though there aren’t a huge amount of directional buyers here we have still had some good conversations – and written orders.
Jelena Hofmann Managing director, Mykke Hofmann
Milan is always a nice show. We’ve seen lots of our Asian clients here, such as Lane Crawford. It’s our fourth time here and I really like it. We’ve had lots of interest on the stand this season and have written orders. The show is totally international for us – as well as Asia it is also good for American buyers, while every good Italian buyer is here. Timewise it is a little odd, because the German market has closed its books, so feels a little late, but it’s early for Italy.
Alexandra de Curtis Founder, Alexandra de Curtis
It is our first time showing here and it has been interesting. The show itself is beautiful. The fact that it is all on one road with all the locations in one area is just great. Our exhibition space [at Tortana 31] is also lovely. The setup is almost like an apartment, with sofas and artwork. It’s lovely for us and lovely for the buyers to come see. We’ve seen a good level of buyers, lots of international too, like China, Japan, the US, Germany, although no UK buyers.
Luca Adami Sales manager, Ssheena
White has performed very well. All the good buyers are here in Milan and visiting White – both the local big names but also international. We have a catwalk show [as White’s guest designer], but lots of people are visiting us at the trade show too. I’m very happy being in the new space [at Tortana 31] and think it is a great idea. It has a soul rather than just being a box like normal trade shows.