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White Milano: Flying the Flag for Milan

White Milano: Flying the Flag for Milan

5 October 2016
Author: Lucia Stansbie

As a native Milanese who went on to work in the fashion industry which the city has been known for since the Renaissance and the Middle Ages, I have to confess to some attachment to the White Milano trade show.  Milan is often characterised as sober and business-minded as well as elegant and sensuous, and I feel this is reflected in the offerings of the show.

The most recent edition (24 – 26 September, showcasing S / S 2017 womenswear) flourished, with 10% more punters than the previous September.  Figures on buyers who came to the show reveal a 5% growth overall, mainly international buyers from Japan, China, and Northern Europe, although there was also a 2% increase in the number of Italian buyers.  

Events at the show have neatly anticipated the jump in attendance, with imaginative programming highlighting both new developments in global fashion and traditional Italian craftsmanship and luxury.  This is particularly appropriate because White Milano exhibitors are typically either Italian contemporary brands or foreign research brands drawn to the show by its innovative collaborations and projects. All in all, over 500 garment makers and accessory research brands were represented at the trade show, headquartered in the fashion district of via Tortona.  Three distinct areas (Superstudio Più, Hotel Nhow, and Ex-Ansaldo) each contained special theme sections.

Notable projects included Whiteast, developed in partnership with the successful Italian online retailers Luisa via Roma.  15 contemporary designers from China were selected to be showcased in this section.  WHITE STUDIO – It’s time to Contemporary Artisan gave Italian fashion curators Clara Tosi Pamphili and Alessio De’Navasques licence to draw attention to craftsmanship in the modern fashion panorama.  WHITE STUDIO was the first project from MIAC – Modern Italian Aziende Contemporary – and whets the appetite for more.

Other intriguing initiatives underlined brands from emerging countries and from specific parts of the world including Georgia, Belgium, and the southern regions of Italy (Sicily, Calabria, Campania and Apulia).  Selected cutting-edge labels chosen in partnership with Birik Butik, an independent website for emerging and established contemporary jewellery designers, were framed in White Bijoux.  Finally, we were also attracted to

ONLY NEW BRAND, which set aside a selection of provocative new brands for the most daring, experimental buyers.

Next, WHITE will fly the flag for the time-honoured standards behind Made in Italy, bringing It’s Time to WHITE, a concentration of the Italian contemporary brands at the show, into China (Shanghai Fashion Week, 15 October), Korea (Seoul, 20 October), Dubai (23 October) and finally, Berlin (17 November, at an event held in quite distinguished style at the Italian Embassy). With events targeted at international press and buyers, It’s Time to WHITE is another promising development in the manifestation of modern-day Italian style.

I do not think I would be biased in saying that White Milano is a strong, vibrant continuation of the Milanese image as a fashion capital.  Quintessentially Italian design contains proportion, emotion and surprise.  While I doubt trade shows are what people conjure up when thinking of Italian elegance, I do think that White Milano contained all of these elements and that future editions will as well.

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