The 70th edition of Pitti Uomo (pittimmagine.com), the menswear and sportswear fair held in Florence June 21 to 24, closed its doors registering more than 21,000 visitors. This edition drew about 1,400 fewer attendees than the June 2005 edition, an attendance drop of about 6%.

The decrease in attendance was caused by various reasons such as local train strikes and, no less important, the FIFA World Cup soccer championships taking place. However, the main reason may be the general cooling down of the Italian fashion business at present. Numerous Italian retailers are suffering and thus many of them chose not to attend the fair. Indeed 1,000 fewer Italians visited the show than in June 2005.

In contrast, the number of visitors from countries that will be the leading ones for tomorrow’s global marketplace saw strong increases. Strongest was the presence of Japanese visitors (+8.3% compared with June 2005), Russia (+19%), China (7.3%) and – surprisingly Switzerland (+11%).

Although a Roberto Cavalli (robertocavalli.com) fashion show on the Ponte Vecchio featured rock-star looks in worked leather and monochromatic suits instead of the designer’s usual animal prints, the bulk of Pitti Uomo was dominated by the presence of sports and sportswear-oriented events and personalities. Wicky Hassan and Renato Rossi, owners of the Sixty Group (sixty.net), the holding company behind Energie, Miss Sixty, Sixty, Killah, Murphy & Nye, Refrigiwear and Richlu, were awarded the Pitti Immagine Prize in recognition for their strong creativity and commitment in involving the whole Italian industrial apparel network.

Sports were also the focus of the exhibition “Human Game – Winners and Losers,” an exhibition that presents the reciprocal interaction between sport and fashion. It will remain open at Stazione Leopolda until July 23.

Rare and unique sneakers were presented within another exhibition, “In Sneakers We Trust,” which was held within the second edition of Welcome to My House, a sub-show dedicated to Italian and international streetwear brands. This street-minded salon offered some new exhibitors and renovated spaces dedicated to graffiti art and new designers but visitors and exhibitors were not helped by the far-off location from Pitti’s Fortezza and shorter opening hours. (The January 2005 edition of Welcome to My House was open from noon to midnight; this one ran daily from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm.)

However, the 70th edition of Pitti Uomo did see the return of significant sportswear brands such as G-Star (g-star.com). “We chose to come back to Florence because we understand that this is still a fair where we can meet significant Italian retailers,” said Philip Tryuen, export manager at G-Star. “In addition we think that approaching the Italian market is helpful in creating a more refined product that can be appreciated worldwide. This is our experience from the launch of our women’s collection in Italy. By tuning it to the needs of Italian women we earned points also in all of our other markets.”

Most brands at the show focused clearly on modern sport attitude. Converse (converse.com) presented a whole series of fancy variants of its sneakers - from high-design versions of its all-white canvas models to super-washed and faded colorful models. And Superga and Diadora (diadora.com) offered similar ideas. In addition, Gianfranco Ferré (gianfrancoferre.com) unveiled his own special collaboration with Diadora at the show: 32 single piece T-shirts aimed to support a children's charity project.

Likewise, Prada (prada.com) officially presented its new brand Luna Rossa at the show. From now its own sports and activewear products will be part of the Luna Rossa collection.

Among the newest collections launched at Pitti were K-Blost, a high-tech and designed-minded series of outer jackets that are super-light but guarantee high-protection from weather. Also debuting was Souvenirs & Gallery, a clean and fancy shirt collection featuring prints, drawings and motifs that bring to mind the collecting fever of the world’s avid globetrotters.

— Maria Cristina Pavarini, Senior Features Editor