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UK buyers torn over Pitti and LCM clash

Menswear exhibitions risk footfall declines as London Collections: Men is pitted against Florence show.

Menswear shows Pitti Uomo and London Collections: Men (LCM) could both lose footfall next season as UK buyers attempt to split their time between the two clashing shows.

The British Fashion Council (BFC) this week revealed that the second edition of LCM would take place on January 7 to 9, putting it almost head-to-head with the well-established Florence event, which runs from January 8 to 11.

BFC chief executive officer Caroline Rush said the decision had not been taken lightly, explaining that it was the only available window for the event.

“It’s not an ideal situation,” she told Drapers. “We researched thoroughly what our press and buyers would want. Ideally we wouldn’t be crossing over by as many days but the advice was to take Monday to Wednesday, so those attending can travel from London to Florence and then on to Milan.”

As a result of the dateline clash, some UK buyers said they would attempt to visit both shows, resulting in less time being spent at each.

Lee Douros, menswear buying manager at etailer My-Wardrobe.com, said: “It’s unfortunate it couldn’t have started on the Sunday because that way you would miss less. As it is I’ll miss one day of each show.”

Richard Nicoll at LCM

Richard Nicoll at LCM

Despite LCM being a newcomer to the show circuit, Douros said it offered access to brands he otherwise would not be aware of, making it a must-visit. But Pitti Uomo is also essential, he said, noting that both would suffer a drop in numbers due to the clash.

Reece Hutton, head of menswear at premium indies Cruise and Van Mildert, called Pitti the “godfather of the trade shows”, and predicted most buyers would attend Florence at the expense of the London event. 

“I’m quite surprised that someone has gone toe-to-toe with it,” he said. “We’ve seen what happens when lots of trade shows try to go up against each other. In Berlin there are lots of shows now with [streetwear trade show] Bread & Butter, Premium, Capsule, etc, and we saw there was low footfall in all of them. The same could happen with London.”

However, Peter Ruis, buying and brand director at department store chain John Lewis, backed LCM, saying Pitti had lost some of its dominance in recent years. The majority of buyers would focus on Milan Fashion Week, he added.

Raffaello Napoleone, chief executive of Pitti Uomo organiser Pitti Immagine, condemned the BFC’s decision. “Fashion fair organisers are all working hard to draw up an international calendar that will increase the efficiency and coherence of the work carried out by buyers and journalists and, at the same time, minimise costs.

“It seems the board of the BFC is taking none of this into account.”

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