Italian Trade Show Operators Bet on 2021 With Some Adjustments

MILAN — Keeping up with the 2021 Italian trade show calendar is a tricky task.

As the country grappled with the second wave of COVID-19 cases, Italian trade show operators battened down the hatches by unveiling major reshuffles in terms of dates and formats.

Although Italy started distributing doses of the coronavirus vaccine in late December, it is unlikely this development will allow international visitors to easily travel to the country and large gatherings are still expected to be discouraged for a large portion of 2021.

To be sure no trade show would want to forgo its 2021 events, viewed as the first opportunity to begin to make up for the ground lost last year when prominent trade shows including Salone del Mobile and Mido were canceled altogether. In 2021, they will both be pushed back and held in June and September, respectively.

“The year 2020 has taught us how much business is impacted without an international event such as Mido that we used to take for granted,” said Giovanni Vitaloni, president of Anfao, the organizer of Mido.

While the Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana said the fall 2021 men’s show season will go ahead from Jan. 15 to 19 — albeit in mainly a digital format with only a few physical shows, including those for Fendi, Etro and Dolce & Gabbana — other fairs that traditionally capitalize on the number of international buyers and executives in town for the shows are rethinking their January editions.

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For instance, White Milano’s WSM event dedicated to sustainability will be a digital-only event, while Pitti Uomo, along with Pitti Bimbo, will be pushed back a month and be held IRL just ahead of the women’s shows, overlapping with the last days of London Fashion Week. Textile trade show Pitti Filati is also planning a physical show from Feb. 8 to 10 inside the Stazione Leopolda venue.

Committed to not missing the January sale window, Pitti Immagine has also scheduled a digital format named Pitti Uomo Connect that will run from Jan. 12 to 14. The event will be kicked off by Brunello Cucinelli, who will livestream his collection from his company’s headquarters in Solomeo over the four-day virtual show.

The pandemic has also pushed several operators to join forces in an attempt to increase their attraction and provide a show calendar that’s more nimble and appealing to attendees. That’s perhaps one of the main positive results for Italian fashion operators, which have long been seen as not keen on collaboration.

Among them, White Milano has revealed a tie-up with Altaroma as part of which talents scouted through the Rome-based showcase will decamp to the Milan trade show. Massimiliano Bizzi, founder of White Milano, said joining forces allows the organizers to “think about the common good of the Italian companies” and optimize the resources provided by the government to foster international visibility for the country’s trade shows.

Along the same lines, Micam, Mipel, Lineapelle, TheOne Milano and Homi Fashion&Jewels Exhibition have decided to replicate the format that debuted last September under the Stronger Together moniker and hold their respective trade shows between March 20 and 24, a month later than usual.

Not even February will see business as usual.

Even if the national chamber of fashion has yet to lay out plans for the women’s fall 2021 shows, leading textile trade show Milano Unica already revealed it will host a digital-only event that month leveraging the e-Milano Unica Connect info-commerce platform developed in 2019 with Pitti Immagine.

Come spring and summer, the health-care situation might improve and that’s when Mido, Salone del Mobile and bridalwear fair Sì Sposaitalia are hoping to get back to business in full force.

“Being able to hold the Salone [del Mobile] next year is an absolute priority for all of us whose lives depend on the design sector,” commented Claudio Luti, president of the Salone del Mobile. He believes that moving the fair to September will provide “a real chance to jumpstart the design [sector] on a global level.”

Bridal trade fair Sì Sposaitalia is even revamping its show format next year and will reorganize the exhibition spaces to better reflect the needs of buyers and visitors attending the fair from May 21 to 24, a month later than usual.

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