White Milano

Creativity, Live Experiences, Sustainability Focus Boost White Milano Attendance

Creativity, Live Experiences, Sustainability Focus Boost White Milano Attendance

MILAN — The COVID-19 pandemic has forced people all over the world to rethink their lives and their businesses, and entrepreneurs need to embrace this change as “signs of the times,” said Massimiliano Bizzi, founder of the White Milano trade show.The fashion industry is no exception to this tumult, and an increasing number of partnerships and a stronger focus on quality, sustainability and responsibility of brands and companies have emerged in the last months as key for Italian fashion companies.
“Sign of the Times” was also the title of the latest edition of White, which ran from Sept. 23 to 25. “It’s no secret that the number of people visiting White was quite unexpected this month, considering travel bans and other restrictions due to the pandemic,” Bizzi admitted. “That is a sign that people do want to share creativity and experiences in person and see firsthand places and products.” In fact, White attracted 13,000 visitors, of which 85 percent were buyers, including delegations from the U.S., including Lane Crawford, and the United Arab Emirates, such as Galeries Lafayette.

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Fashion events were connected to White, as well as talks and focus groups on sustainability and retail strategies taking place in shops and showrooms around Milan during the fair. “We want to develop what Salone del Mobile has done in the design and architecture sectors,” Bizzi added, “which means engaging citizens and changing the way our fashion weeks are lived, involving small businesses committed to quality and environmental issues as well.”
At White, 290 brands showed their creations and highlighted their philosophies more than ever. Sustainability as crucial when considering the next generation of consumers was well-expressed by Ana Duarte. The Portuguese designer was bestowed the C.L.A.S.S. Icon Award for her strong creativity that goes hand in hand with her commitment to fight against pollution and forest destruction. “C.L.A.S.S. and I worked together for my collection using organic and recycled materials,” Duarte explained, “and now that I know more about materials, sustainable companies and how their production works. I think this experience is just a start for me.” Duarte used materials like Newlife, a 100 percent made In Italy yarn coming from traceable plastic bottles, and the Japanese yarn Bemberg by Asahi Kasei, made from the transformation of cotton linter.
These materials gave life to the 20 outfits in Duarte’s graphic and playful collection inspired by urban landscapes, where superhero Tadao, the designer’s dog, fights against monsters like Deforestation Man and Smog Man. “I think we all need to know how to consume better, less and more effectively by choosing sustainable pieces that last longer,” underscored Duarte.
In the Contemporary Area at White, Skin of Nature stood out. The company, founded by Italy’s Elena Beraldo, focuses focused on outdoor outfits. The Aquatilis line, in particular, was inspired by the work of Russian marine biologist and underwater photographer Alexander Semenov. The yarns used by the designer come from recovered plastic bottles and both packaging and labels are made of scraps and recycled materials. Patterns remind of the underwater world, with memories of jellyfish and plankton. “With my outfits, I try to make my contribution to save our mother Earth and respect both the people who work in factories and those who wear our items,” Beraldo said. “That is why I moved from Italy to Hong Kong five years ago, to closely monitor the entire production chain, from plastic bottles to the final product.”

Alongside with Aquatilis, Beraldo also presented her Different Kind capsule, made of KI-72 garment. Created by the Italian Madex, KI-72 is made of recycled materials and the final product is not only durable but also biodegradable in every single detail.
Shoes designer Francesca Bellavita had her booth in the Contemporary Area as well. Her challenge was to combine vegetable tanned leather with new shapes and to give life to her “dream of a shoe as a luxury toy,” Bellavita said. The Minnie and the Minnie-Bootie collections feature a cartoon-style round shaped plateau and a sinuous heel. Bellavita, who was named Young Italian Emerging Designer Around the World by Micam in 2019, added that her company (founded in Milan in 2017) has extended her target market outside Italy by selling in Russia, China and the Middle East.
Pakistan-born Meher Kakalia was back again at White with a line of recycled, handmade bags and shoes. Born in Karachi, Kakalia moved to London to study and work in the financial sector, until she understood that her dream was to show the world her country’s tradition of embroidery, applied to the art of shoe making. Europe, Asia and the U.S. are the target markets for the designer who founded her eponymous brand 10 years ago, following a slow fashion philosophy which promotes the production of products that have been preordered only, in order to avoid waste. All materials are recycled, while artisans are mainly women who work within their own families.
Old military uniforms got a new life to De’ Hart’s new collection. The brand, founded in 2012 by Tuscan company Lanificio Becagli, presented its outerwear alongside a capsule of bags and pillows. Simona Paolettoni, product supervisor, said their brand has increased sales outside Italy during the pandemic. Main markets are Europe and Japan, where De’ Hart sells through its website and Instagram. The company is focused on boosting its presence on the social network to strengthen its online sales.
Standing out for its deep research in the reuse of older pieces of clothing, Italian designer Giuseppe Mistrazzoso showcased his line Re-Worked. The new line features a wide range of shirts made of old silk headscarves. Produced by Mistrazzoso’s company Vento del Sud, Re-Worked includes a capsule of sandals and dresses.

White also offered special projects such as “Room 001,” dedicated to Vivienne Westwood and a selection of unisex pieces, and TWOBC, a ready-to-wear collection designed by British Italian designer Antonio Berardi. His colorful line, produced by Roberto Zanetto’s company T.E.C. and distributed by Marina Guidi’s Garage, was presented in an all-white version created for the Milanese trade show.
The trade show also held talks and meetings to explore the next generation’s needs in terms of shopping experiences, such as “Symposium 2021.” Organized by Gen Z strategist Laura Puricelli and The Sustainable Mag’s founders Francesca Manfredi and Paola Vinci, Symposium focused on sustainability and digital experiences from the point of view of Gen Z: reuse, recycle and rental are the foundations of new business models that the fashion industry needs to develop. The real challenge that emerged during the Symposium was about communication: using gamification and infotainment experiences, the fashion industry will have to work on communicating brand awareness and a commitment to a circular economy, while implementing exchanges between online and offline experiences.

WSM Continues to Be Hotbed for Young, Sustainable Brands

WSM Continues to Be Hotbed for Young, Sustainable Brands

MILAN — The entirely digital experience forced by the pandemic was a thing of the past for White Milano’s most recent WSM format, dedicated to sustainability and held in conjunction with Milan Men’s Fashion Week.
While the trade show organizer is looking forward to September when it plans to stage a physical show for what its founder Massimiliano Bizzi has long described as the renaissance of Milan and its return at the forefront of the international fashion map, the most recent WSM edition held from June 19 to 21 saw some 50 brands showcasing their new collections in a “phy-gital” format, with key physical activations spread across Milan.
Almost like a collective pushing the boundaries of what sustainability and artisanship really mean in fashion, many of them were returning exhibitors that are not only showing commitment to the trade show season after season but also supporting one another.

Committed to expanding its local and international footprint, as reported, White Milano set up an hybrid format for WSM, aided by the easing of restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19, which included mounting a temporary exhibition space at the Fondazione Sozzani Tazzoli Milano where it showcased a streamlined group of 10 brands selected with the support the Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana. White Milano has also pledged a donation to the fashion governing body’s Fashion Trust initiative with which it shares the same goal of supporting young talents and small and medium-sized fashion enterprises.

To be sure, Bizzi has always been vocal about the need for industry operators to join forces in supporting the post-pandemic relaunch on Milan. To this end, the trade show also conscripted edgy Milan retailers from Daad to Modes and Biffi to Civiconove to each display a brand from the WSM selection, in a bid to shorten the gap between emerging brands and their potential customer base. It also forged ties with New York concept store The Canvas, based on a profit-sharing business model, bringing some of the brands the store promote to Italy.

The Civiconove store displaying products from Ecoalf, an exhibitor at the WSM trade show. 
Courtesy of White Milano.

The Sozzani Tazzoli Milano foundation was also home to a range of workshops and talks spanning from the sustainable transformation of the textile supply chain to denim supplier Candiani presenting its biodegradable Coreva fabric.
What sets WSM exhibitors apart is their commitment to sustainable and local production — in Italy or in the countries where each brand is based — and an overall purpose-driven business model that is sure to intercept the values of Gen Z consumers.
Here, WWD picked the four most interesting fashion brands on show at WSM.
GENTILE MILANO: A retro-tinged, ‘70s mood ran through the Gentile Milano spring collection — a redux of flamboyant Milanese garb crafted from deadstock fabrics sourced from Apulia and Milan-based factories or vintage clothing retrieved from thrift stores and markets.
The brand’s founder, Gioacchino Gentile, launched the brand in 2020 with a seasonless and genderless approach, aiming to offer his customers almost one-of-a-kind pieces. After moving to Milan to study design at fashion university Naba, Gentile said he “started scrutinizing the fashion system and developing my own ethic principles,” which led him to reject overproduction and a general fixation in the industry for a single stereotyped body shape.

Gentile Milano Spring 2022 seen at WSM. 
Courtesy of White Milano

The collection featured feminine, delicate brocade single-breasted suits and boxy double-breasted versions paired with shorts for men, as well as see-through slipdresses hemmed with flamboyant ruffles for ladies who are excited to party once again.
ZEROBARRACENTO: Sustainable fashion press officer Camilla Carrara launched Zerobarracento in 2017 and she has been expanding its scope ever since, while continuing to bank on its core outerwear category — filled with roomy, belted and off-shouldered styles.
Like other brands on show at WSM, Carrara’s mission is to “reshape the values of the fashion industry, abandoning the season cycles and the gender- or age-based approach to clothing,” she said. Manufactured following the zero waste, puzzle-like paper pattern principle, which allows to save at least 15 percent of textiles compared to traditional processes, Carrera said she is often the one introducing the laboratories and factories she works with to the eco-friendly technique.

Zerobarracento Spring 2022 seen at WSM. 
Courtesy of White Milano

In 2020, she launched her own e-commerce site, receiving support from the Worth program established by the European Commission to help innovative SMEs thrive.
SARA VALENTE: Aiming to tap into the evolving needs of female customers always on the go, Sara Valente established her namesake handbag brand in 2010, developing clean and minimalistic styles relying on Made in Italy sourcing and manufacturing.
At WSM, she introduced a collection designed while she was pregnant, which inspired her to stress that approach even further, as seen on the “Papira” style that features pockets that can be rolled up and down to allow for more space. The designer stressed her “slow-fashion” bent, noting that each bag is carefully handcrafted by a single artisan, giving the items a one-of-a-kind feel.
MARCELLO PIPITONE: A IED graduate, Marcello Pipitone aims to imbue his upbringing and personal story in the namesake brand he founded in 2020. Filled with streetwear and sportswear inflections, the spring 2022 lineup of uncomplicated track suits, oversize sweaters with holes and denim pants, is a celebration of Milan’s suburbia.

Marcello Pipitone Men’s Spring 2022 seen at WSM. 
Courtesy of White Milano.

The designer, who grew up in the Bonola district, splashed the neighborhood’s name across some of the styles as a means to “elevate the image of suburbs, places where younger people don’t have so many opportunities,” he said. Mindful of sustainability and currently handling manufacturing himself, he has been increasingly using upcycled materials for his brand.

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White Milano Offers Fresh View on Emerging Fashion Brands

White Milano Offers Fresh View on Emerging Fashion Brands

MILAN — Italian trade show White Milano has pledged to be the point of reference for Italy’s small and medium-sized fashion companies, which are viewed as emblematic of the country’s fashion expertise despite being the most severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
For its latest digital-only show, held Feb. 25 to 28 in conjunction with Milan Fashion Week, the fair hosted talks and webinars combined with a business-to-business platform and consumer-facing initiatives in hopes of supporting and preserving the country’s smallest fashion enterprises.
Massimiliano Bizzi, the founder of White Milano, noted that these firms often lack the financial and operational strength for marketing and communication activities, which the trade show aims to compensate for.

White Milano has always showcased up-and-coming brands, often in the contemporary sector. For its latest edition, among the more than 200 brands on show, the event picked several small and local businesses working with Italian artisans and family-owned suppliers. Some brands were even established last year in the midst of the pandemic, proving the resilience of the sector during the tumultuous year.
Here, WWD highlights the key trends and brands seen at the digital show.
KNITWEAR TOUCH: A strong trend seen on the Milan digital catwalks, knitwear was also on full display at the trade show. Highlighting the manufacturing techniques and luxury fabrics seemed to be the mantra for companies showing at White Milano, which skewed toward unfussy and everyday pieces perfect for layering.

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A standout among knitwear brands, Of Handmade designer Simona Guaini, who’s been creating one-of-a-kind handcrafted oversized sweaters, offered a collection of arty and tactile pieces embellished with floral and macramé-inspired patterns, as in a cozy camel turtleneck knitted in garter stitch with contrasting white and black decorations. While Guaini has been relying on Italian manufacturers, she is worried about losing her suppliers due to the pandemic and, in case demand increases, is planning to move part of the production to Peru.
A look from the Of Handmade fall 2021 collection presented at White Milano.  Courtesy of White Milano.

Blending influences from Northern European minimalism and traditional knit handicraft from Peru, Aymare was founded in 2007 by life and business partners Sven Van Gucht and Yannina Esquivias, who both left their previous jobs to fully commit to the fashion project. Their fall collection of everyday, unfussy knit crew necks, cable-knit turtlenecks and cardigans was crafted from baby alpaca, highlighting manufacturing techniques developed by local artisans in Arequipa, in the southern region of the Latin American country.
The story behind Verona, Italy-based Chiara Bertani is also one of reinvention: A storied knitwear company led by the namesake designer, which used to supply Italian luxury brands, the company decided to establish its own brand when its clients started to move production to China. Committed to delivering a total knitwear look, the label for fall played with relaxed silhouettes in an earthy palette of ocher, terra cotta brown and blush beige for knitted vests, pencil skirts paired with turtlenecks and second-skin crew necks embellished with rhinestone beads for a minimalist and chic look.

Similarly, the Mirella De Mori brand, founded by the second generation of the De Mori family who has run a knitwear company in the outskirts of Bergamo, Italy since 1957, offered a total look, crafted from luxurious cashmere given a contemporary twist by way of neon hues, such as lime green and cobalt blue. Pleated gowns were matched to color-coordinated oversize seed stitch turtlenecks with bows at the collar for a feminine look, while a tunic ribbed knit dress was fresh and young.
A look from the Mirella De Mori fall 2021 collection presented at White Milano.  Courtesy of White Milano.

FASHION FORWARD: Ready-to-wear brands took a two-pronged approach at the trade show, either showing genderless and unisex fashion or celebrating a feminine bohemian attitude.
The brainchild of Antonio Pontini and a circle of close friends and collaborators, the Vescovo brand was launched during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic last spring. First established as a multipurpose platform, it rapidly transitioned to fashion. Offering a genderless style, the brand builds on wardrobe essentials cut in generous silhouettes with a normcore bent. For fall pants came relaxed and pleated, paired with men’s formal shirts and off-the-shoulder knit vests, while roomy suits in an eggshell tone looked cool on male models and conceptual on women. Mindful of environmental issues, the brand largely employs recycled fabrics.
Also banking on unisex fashion, designers Elisa Soldini and Lucia Padrini set up outerwear brand Kimonorain, the name saying it all about the concept, on the ashes of their former total look fashion project Tvscia. Paying homage to Japanese kimonos, the brand offers waterproof jackets and coats in a variety of roomy silhouettes marked by a distinctive shell-shaped hoodie. While originally crafted from water resistant nylon, the two designers have most recently introduced natural fabrics, including cotton and wool treated to be rainproof. With their cocooning shapes, the Kimonorain pieces were a particularly appealing alternative to performance-driven puffer jackets.
A look from the Kimonorain fall 2021 collection presented at White Milano.  Courtesy of White Milano.

A retro-tinged mood ran through Vaderetro’s fall collection filled with upholstery fabrications for waist-fitted blazers boasting voluminous sleeves and cameo buttons or traditional shirting fabrics transformed into Western-inspired ruffled frocks paired with a corset featuring playful characters in the style of motifs used by alpine communities. The brand’s founder Antonio d’Andrea — who lived in the U.K. and Morocco before returning to Italy, where his brand became popular after showcasing at last year’s edition of Alta Roma — said the fall collection was inspired by the Rom population, an Indo-Aryan, traditionally nomadic community living in Europe, hence the melting pot of references seen in this arty and experimental lineup.
A look from the Vaderetro fall 2021 collection presented at White Milano.  Courtesy of White Milano.

MINIMALIST BAGS: Handbags for fall were sleek and timeless, inspired by architectural and design shapes, often featuring unexpected details such as the combination of contrasting materials and the use of resin peppering the subdued styles.
Inspired by Danish architecture following a trip to Copenhagen, designer Caterina Zulian established her namesake brand in 2020 aiming to offer luxurious bags with a contemporary feel. For fall she introduced two styles, both oversize and crafted from glossy leather, nodding to everyday carryover and business briefcases without compromising their feminine touch. While the carryover style with its round shapes and longer handles is a practical everyday option, the business bag boasts an off-kilter rectangular shape making it unconventional.
A bag from Caterina Zulian’s fall 2021 collection presented at White Milano.  Courtesy of White Milano.

Leveraging the expertise of Naples-based leather goods artisans, designer Anna Maria Mongillo established her Aim/Handmade in Italy brand last year despite the pandemic. Boasting experience consulting for fashion brands including the late Kate Spade’s Frances Valentine label, Mongillo started her solo fashion project with just four styles exuding a ’70s flavor imbued with geometrical details, cue a doctor bag crafted from supple leather featuring trapezoidal handles that make it practical to carry and sleek.
Domiziana Bertelli and Nicola Massardi took a similar approach for their Ni-Do brand’s fall handbag collection filled with stripped-back and retro-tinged styles, including a trapeze bag with a rounded resin grip and a cute mini baguette option with a chain handle, both crafted from leather the couple sources from leftovers of a Tuscany-based tannery that works with luxury brands.
A bag from the Ni-Do fall 2021 collection presented at White Milano.  Courtesy of White Milano.

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White Milano Commits to Milan ‘Renaissance’

White Milano Commits to Milan ‘Renaissance’

MILAN — A collaborative mind-set is key for Italian trade show White Milano, which is gearing up to host its second digital-only edition Feb. 25 to 28, in conjunction with Milan Fashion Week.
The digital affair will combine talks, webinars, a business-to-business platform and consumer-facing initiatives in hopes of supporting and preserving the country’s small and medium-sized fashion enterprises.
Massimiliano Bizzi, the founder of the White Milano, is not only optimistic about the fair, but he is also looking long term to the renaissance of Milan and has the ambition to make it a reference point for the international fashion community in the post-pandemic future.
“Milan and fashion are one, we definitely need to rethink the way the sector is presented during fashion weeks,” he said during a Zoom call Thursday unveiling the program for the upcoming digital fair. “The industry has basically lost three seasons, from fall 2020 to fall 2021 and we need to change the status quo and leverage digital capabilities to involve final consumers,” he added.

White Milano has always been rooted in showcasing up-and-coming brands, often in the contemporary arena, and operated by SMEs which represent 90 percent of the fashion sector’s sales in the country. Bizzi noted that they often lack the financial and operational strength for marketing and communication activities, which the trade show aims to compensate.

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In order to support the system, Bizzi stressed the importance a joint effort by all involved entities. To this end, the number of partners the fair has amassed over the years include Confartigianato Imprese, Italy’s trade agency ICE and even a roster of showroom operators and buyers.
Among the last category, Beppe Angiolini, the marquee buyer from Arezzo, Italy-based shop Sugar praised the trade show for supporting smaller labels, an important role that has increased since digital buying has taken over physical appointments. “Making orders online is a tough process and it does not reward small companies, as retailers tend to favor established names, that are safer,” he said.
The upcoming White Milano event will feature more than 200 brands on its marketplace, including two special project areas dedicated to “advanced artisans” and to sustainability.
The former project will spotlight around 20 brands with an innovative bent, including denimwear specialist PeppinoPeppino and Brazil-based jeweler Nart Studio and along the same lines, White Milano has forged ties with Galleria&Friends a Milan-based association gathering the city’s artisanal boutiques.
A key topic for White Milano, sustainability is increasingly viewed as competitive advantage rather than compliance with regulations, as ICE president Carlo Maria Ferro put it. To this end, the second project, called  “A Good Job,” will be dedicated to eco-friendly labels including vegan bag maker Tiziano Guardini, Roberto di Stefano and footwear brand Yatay.
As reported, the trade show is linking with Altaroma, giving brands that showcased at the Rome event an opportunity to digitally catch up with buyers.
While enthusiastic about February, Bizzi is looking forward to September’s fashion week for a full rebound supported by physical events, which will give a boost of confidence to the country and its fashion industry. He and Angiolini share the dream of hosting a number of consumer-facing events throughout the city, in line with what Milan Design Week has been able to do over the past years.

Meanwhile, to support a rebound throughout 2021, ICE has unveiled 14 new initiatives to boost e-commerce operations via b-to-c deals with 26 international online shops, including Germany’s Mytheresa, as reported, and a b-to-b partnership with Alibaba through which Italian SMEs can reach around 140 countries worldwide. Ferro noted that despite an overall drop in exports, reduced from 16.9 percent in May to 9.4 percent at the end of last year, the fashion sector was among the most severely impacted.
Joining the press conference, Mario Boselli, the honorary president of the national fashion chamber, provided an optimistic forecast. “The COVID-19 pandemic is often described as a ‘war,’ however we did not lose our assets, the industrial complexes,” he said. “It’s as if a lamp was turned off but we can definitely turn it back on as soon as the situation improves,” he said, citing the recovery China has already experienced as one good example.

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