On the third day of Pitti Immagine Uomo UK brands have been enjoying the benefits of a strong turnout by North American and Far Eastern buyers, while British heritage and provenance continue to appeal to global buyers from high-end independents and department stores.
Along with buyers from Italy, Germany and Australia, the American, Canadian and Japanese contingents dwarfed the numbers attending from the UK and Ireland.
The 88th edition of the Florence show attracted 93 UK exhibitors, from braces specialist Albert Thurston to contemporary fashion brand YMC.
At heritage knitter Jamieson’s of Shetland the small selection of linen-cotton sleeveless tops for spring 16 was proving popular with the Japanese market. “We have seen a lot of Japanese buyers today, but none yet from South Korea, which is a big market for us,” reported overseas marketing manager Lorna Graham.
“We have had interest from lots of Canadians and Americans, and there are more French buyers at the show today. Pitti Uomo is by far the biggest and best menswear show worldwide; we come to meet customers from the Far East, as well as buyers from Belgium, Holland and Germany.”
British hatter Lock & Co is seeing strong demand from Asia. “We’ve taken orders from China, Hong Kong and Japan, as well as the US,” confirmed marketing and PR manager Hannah Rigby. “Our boater style has been particular popular, alongside our classic caps, folding Panama and lightweight ‘Voyager’ felt trilby. It is always important to have a presence at Pitti Uomo.”
Neil Rennie, head of wholesale at Hardy Amies, agreed the major US department stores were very well represented, along with a large Canadian contingent and buyers from Selfridges. “Canadian stores have long had an affinity with British brands. They’re looking for something different and they love our heritage story. Footfall to our stand has been a mixture of pre-appointments and new buyers coming on to learn more about the brand.”
The stand of London-based manufacturer Grenfell was very busy with Japanese, Scandinavian and German buyers, according to commercial director Gary Burnand. “Pitti Uomo is very much an international show for us. We’ve seen a lot of interest from Japan, which has been our main market for 10 years, and some US buyers as well. Japan in particular loves the provenance and heritage of our British outerwear and the Grenfell Bluebird collection, re-launched for spring 16, is proving popular.”
Richard Utting, European sales manager at Northampton footwear brand Loake, has seen a strong turnout from Australia and New Zealand. “We have seen more Australian buyers than normal, from a mixture of high-end independents, multiples and department stores. We have seen a lot of buyers from Scandinavia, although fewer buyers from Japan, China and South Korea than I expected. We have taken orders from Australia, India, Norway and Sweden.”
Nathan Diwan, owner of belt specialist Elliot Rhodes, came to Pitti Uomo to grow his 15 UK wholesale accounts: “Over the first two days we’ve opened three new UK accounts. We were already in contact with the buyers at home, but when they came to the show and saw the selection they were ready to place orders. We have someone from Saks Fifth Avenue in New York and a potential Japanese agent here at the show.”
From Brown Thomas in Dublin, menswear buyers Aimee Doyle and Louise Joyce use the show to seek out fresh suppliers. “This show is all about newness and finding small, in particular Italian, brands which are not in other stores in the UK or Ireland,” said Joyce.
Guy Hudson, owner of Drapers Independents Award-winning independent Lynx in Harrogate, comes to Florence with the same intention of discovering emerging labels: “We are looking for new businesses with no British representation so we can be the first to have them in the UK. This is particularly important as we are going more off-stream in terms of the brands we select. The show is also an essential source of inspiration, in particular colour inspiration.”
The four-day event ends tomorrow, June 19.