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International visitors on the rise at Pitti

The number of international buyers attending Pitti Uomo in Florence has risen 13% year on year, according to early attendance figures released by the event’s organisers.

Pitti Immagine also estimated that as many as 24,000 attendees have passed through the gates of the Fortezza da Basso over the four-day show, an increase of 18% compared to January 2014.

Speaking to Drapers on the third day of the show, exhibitors agreed footfall was higher and buyers were more positive, while also highlighting a rise in the number of British independents in attendance.

Aquascutum menswear wholesale manager Daniel Bradley said: “Last year seemed quieter, but there’s a positive vibe about the whole thing this year. Italy is a massive market for us in wholesale so it’s important to be here. I’ve seen a few UK independents and I wonder if that’s because Bread & Butter has gone. Last year we saw more suppliers, but now it’s more buyers.”

Oliver Sweeney’s commercial director Simon Goodfellow said: “The people we’ve seen are good people for us and everyone’s in a good mood, you can feel it walking around. We’ve had a mix of people from Europe, the US and Asia, but not so many Japanese. We’ve done a lot of international sales and we’ve seen a lot of independents from the UK.”

A spokesman for Pringle of Scotland, which is showing at Pitti for the first time since June 2011 and is celebrating its 200th anniversary this year, said: “We thought the first day was packed, the second day was really packed but there was a slower start today. We’ve seen a lot of Americans from department stores as well as Asia, Switzerland and Austria.”

Buyers from etailers, independents and the likes of John Lewis, Selfridges and Harvey Nichols visited stands, and those Drapers spoke to were equally optimistic about the turnout.

Steve Monaghan, owner of online menswear store The Great Divide, said: “I come every season and I’ve been pretty impressed this week. There’s more of a presence from big retailers and others have increased the size of their stand because of Bread & Butter disappearing. There’s a great turnout, [and] because of the good weather today people seem to be sticking around.”

Junior buyer for Mr Porter, Daniel Todd, said: “I’m here to see some existing brands and also look for newness. Before coming we look for gaps in our offer to make a decision on what to add. People usually show at multiple trade shows but what is interesting is now that Bread & Butter has gone, more people are here.”

Joint directors of online tie store Tiesplanet.com, Andrew and Chris Bragg, were attending Pitti for the first time: “It’s been good because we’re getting to see stuff we’re not used to. We’re looking for new, more branded labels, to add to what we already have. We didn’t come with an idea of what or how much we wanted, we’re quite flexible so we’ll make a decision on what we like. We’re also using this to set up appointments with brands and agents in the UK.”

Double digit growth was seen from nearly all European countries including the UK, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Greece and Spain.

Some of the biggest influxes came from Northern Europe with as many as 40% more buyers from Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland, followed by France (+30%.)

The only declines in attendance came from Russia (-25%), which was forced to pull out of a country-sponsored stand as a result of its deepening economic crisis, and Ukraine (-20%).

Pitti Immagine chief executive Raffaello Napoleone said: “A growth in attendance that affects not only the foreign markets, but also - and I want to highlight this - Italy, and this can only make us very happy. No doubt the initial record of exhibitors participating at this edition - nearly 1,200 in total, with more exhibitors also for Pitti W [womenswear section] - was the starting point for the record in the turnout of buyers that we expect at this edition.”

A full video interview with Napoleone and Drapers’ Eric Musgrave will be available soon. To watch that and more videos from the Drapers team in Florence, including Drapers Talks, go to Drapersonline.com/pittiuomo

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