Pitti Connect: A Way To Stay?
28 July 2020
Author: Jasmine Waters
As physical events are put on hold for the foreseeable future, there remains a question of how best to provide physical services on a digital level. Pitti Uomo has been one of the first trade shows to notably take on this challenge, presenting buyers and consumers alike with the virtual platform of Pitti Connect. Open for business from June until October, the platform has already been subject to a great deal of criticism. What can others learn from this, and more importantly – will digital events be something that actually sticks?
What is Pitti Connect?
Pitti Uomo is a trade show that is infamously known for its attendees flaunting elaborate outfits and gracing the covers of global fashion publications. For something that almost solely relies on physical connection and experiences to make its name, a complete shift to “remote interaction” makes it an especially intriguing case study. The trade show itself has had to be rescheduled twice (next set to return in January 2021) largely due to economic uncertainty, travel restrictions and – possibly not unsurprisingly – lack of interest from exhibitors. Although it remains as a standalone offering, only 170 exhibitors are listed on the site compared to the 1,200 that showcased at Pitti January 2020. So what has gone so wrong? In essence, buyers can use filter options to search through the exhibition using an “intelligent matching system”, each exhibitor’s page browsing varying amount of information dependent on access level. Meetings can be organised via chat functions or requests, and a schedule of digital events helps to keep the focus on sustainability. Despite these commendable efforts, Pitti Connects falls down on how it’s delivered.
Why has it had bad feedback?
We can’t avoid the elephant in the room – this virtual alternative just cannot replace the opportunity to network in person, particularly when we bear in mind that over 21,000 buyers were present at the last edition. Pitti has kept the most important aspects of a show at its core, but each are presented in ways that are not comprehensive or easy to locate. Exhibitors have expressed frustrations with the platform being restrictive, along with over-complications, confusion and issues between translations. It hasn’t all been bad news, though. The platform has allowed for an international show to be more democratic. Particularly for small and independent brands, they can now have access to the same materials and resources without having to pay the hefty fair or travel fees.
There’s no question – the physical way of conducting business is sorely missed. That being said, there is likely to still be hesitancy when it comes to gradually being able to re-start the trade show circuit. For the time being, the importance will remain in more temporary digital measures making a seamless bridge in anticipation of the return to physical. More often than not now, one cannot work well without the other – and the current digital will require some work before it can be seriously considered as a successful long-term option.
Photo credit: https://www.facebook.com/Pittimmagine