We Travel to Europe’s Foremost Menswear Tradeshow – Pitti Uomo

 

The factory is whirring again, the phones are ringing and before even one week of 2014 was done, our lovely Christmas and New Year holiday was forgotten and it was time to head to the stunning city of Florence in Italy. This is a recommended destination at any time of the year and even in January with cloudy skies, it does not disappoint. It is the home of the Pitti trade shows and the first full week of January brings “Pitti Uomo”, the menswear show.

 

So, What Exactly is a Trade Show?

Simply put, it is where brands set up displays to attract orders from store buyers who, in turn, look for all the stock they need to fill their shops.

Some trade shows are small, some are big. Pitti is enormous! There were 1,050 different brands exhibiting and around 21,000 buyers, plus fashion commentators, journalists and bloggers, making a total visitor count of around 30,000 people. This all takes place over four days at the Fortezza da Basso, an ancient military fort near to the centre of Florence, which has been used as an exhibition centre since 1967. There are over 45 different buildings and pavilions, some old, some new, and some temporary, in which all the exhibitors set up shop and the result is almost overwhelmingly massive. Brands and buyers alike come from all parts of the globe and as Pitti is now in its 43rd year, it is clear that the formula works for the industry. You can read more about Pitti Uomo at The Business of Fashion and see why the show is brilliant for people-watching at MenswearStyle’s Instagram.

Given the number of visitors descending on Florence, it’s no surprise that there is a severe lack of hotel rooms, so we generally book an appartment to stay in, which works out cheaper and often more restful after the long days on the exhibition stand. This show brought us to a fabulous apartment in an old building right on the bank of the river and just a stone’s throw from the historic and beguiling Ponte Vecchio. The first view of it was the most gigantic door and the interior was at once grand yet informal. And the view over the river – well, it was just lovely, especially at night. We had a 20 minute walk-commute across some of the best bits of the city from our apartment to the exhibition centre, crossing the Ponte Vecchio, passing the legendary Duomo, through several gorgeous piazzas and much too close to an alarming number of gelaterias and tempting shops.

If this sight-filled amble weren’t enough compensation for the long days, the amazing selection of restaurants and food certainly were, and the highlight of these was undoubtedly the tiny Zeb Gastronomia which was recommended to us by the owner of the apartment. The food and wine were superb and the mother and son team running it were delightful. We’ll definitely be back to that one during the next show!

Aside from the lovely distraction that is Florence, business was good, with many new contacts made which will hopefully mature into new outlets around the world for our leather goods. We’ll be doing it all again in June (we’re already dreaming of Florence in the sun now that we’re back home in the rainy English January) and until then, we leave you with a slide show of snaps taken during our stay. Just click to play, captions are at the bottom.  Ciao!

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