During a press conference in Milan last week the organizers of the Italian New Luxury womenswear trade show White (whiteshow.it) announced their plan to stage a new trade show: White Salone Uomo.

Although news of a new trade show rarely generates controversy, the announcement staged a vivid – sometimes even heated - discussion among attending journalists and guests at the press conference held at the city’s major palazzo.

Journalists quickly asked if there is a link between the private organizers of the trade show and the city’s government official responsible for fashion, Tiziana Maiolo, who also attended the press conference.

In response, Maiolo underlined the economic importance of the fashion industry for the city but did not confirm any money support for the White fair organizers. “Milan as a fashion capital should open its doors for the public such as the whole city did during the last furniture fair in April [Salone del Mobile] when many showrooms and even one day of the trade show was open for the public,” she said.

“Fashion is the calling card of the city and should give young designers a chance to introduce themselves to a larger audience. Therefore the city supports the initiative of the White organizers as this is an additional event for the city,” she added. The concept of the new trade show was also the subject of lively discussion since Milan White plans to bring menswear brands and womenswear pre-collections into town during the next menswear catwalk shows in January.

The trade show will be held January 14 to 16, 2008 in the well-known Zona Tortona area (around Via Tortona), a place where many fashion shows and the womenswear White edition are held twice a year.

“All the foreign buyers come to Milan where the catwalks shows and all showrooms are,” explained White founder Massimiliano Bizzi. “We don’t see this menswear fair as a concurrent for Pitti Uomo in Florence but we have to pay attention to the strong competition in Paris. Plus there’s a change of structure – more and more womenswear brands want to show their collections earlier.”

Bizzi hopes to attract 80 to 130 exhibitors showing young, fresh niche-brands.

This announcement comes after the brief cooperation between the White and Pitti Immagine (pittimmagine.it) organizers ended last year dividing the four womenswear trade shows — White, Touch!, Neozone and Cloudnine — in Milan.

“Sometimes a marriage ends with divorce but nevertheless the results from last February’s White fair show a 8% visitors plus,” added Bizzi.

White was founded seven years ago by Bizzi and Carlo Mariani and focused until now on women’s new luxury and prêt-à-porter brands. The White womenswear edition, featuring a total of 150 exhibitors, is usually held twice a year during the womenswear catwalk week at the end of February and the end of September and will add a section spotlighting young womenswear designers.

Pitti Immagine will again organize the other remaining womenswear trade shows Touch! and Neozone-Cloudnine in Milan.

Pitti’s menswear trade show Pitti Immagine Uomo will remain in Florence. As usual, it will be held in the beginning January and June – just before the catwalk shows and the new trade show.

— Michaela Schmidinger, Fashion Features Editor