The spring 16 edition of Pitti Immagine Uomo in Florence opened in a confident mood today (June 16) and UK exhibitors anticipate an increased number of Asian and US buyers this season.
But while the sun was shining over the Fortezza da Basso, the number of UK and Irish buyers attending the trade show – which runs until June 19 – was expected to be lower than for the January edition.
Michael Hill, managing director of premium tie and shirt brand Drake’s, told Drapers: “We have had a very busy morning. We have Japanese buyers at one table and some from Hong Kong at the next. Brands feel there are more Asians here than before and we are doing more with South Korea. The US is also pretty good.”
He expects to see around 50 customers at the show and to write around 10% of the season’s wholesale orders.
But he warned wholesale is “tough” as there is more competition than ever and major department stores are squeezing men’s accessories areas.
Robert Cosgrave from Bond Street Agencies, at the show to pick up stockists for French brand Breuer, said he was anticipating a few independents but added: “We are not expecting huge numbers of British buyers.” He pointed out that the Brits tend to prefer the January edition to the Italian heat in June.
Yves Guy Coulter, director of communications at BDV Creative agency, which looks after Pringle of Scotland, said: “It’s good to be here as people have more time and it’s a bit more informal than the showrooms. More people are coming than last season, especially from Asia.
“The Germany economy is good, but consumers there are not willing to spend much and there are a lot of US buyers here. There are also a lot of South Africans here.”
Ann Ryley, head of sales at Scottish cashmere brand Begg & Co, said she was expecting buyers from across Europe, South Korea and Japan, despite the depreciation of the Japanese Yen, but she added thatSwitzerland had been badly hit by currency fluctuations. No one was expecting many Russians this season.
Marty Wikstrom, chairman of footwear brand Harrys of London, said: “The US is buoyant, our business is very good there, and we are doing a lot of business in Germany, Scandinavia and Hong Kong.”
A lot of talk among the exhibitors during the first morning also centred around the fact that Prada-owned footwear brand Church’s decided not to take a stand this season. The loss of a few regular few exhibitors this season has allowed the arrival of more small newcomers; in total, UKFT brought about 90 British exhibitors to this 88th edition of Pitti Uomo.