Friday, May 29, 2015


The world’s most important trade fair for men’s fashion, Pitti Immagine Uomo, will host a slew of new features for its summer edition, highlighting ethical fashion and honouring stylists from Africa, Europe and other regions.

MaXhosa by Laduma
(photo: S. Deiner)
Taking place June 16 to 19 in Florence, Italy, the fair will present a special edition of its Guest Nation Project, in which a particular area is designated for the “rising stars” of fashion from various countries, said Raffaello Napoleone, CEO of Piiti.

Speaking to reporters in Paris, Napoleone said that Guest Nation will focus on African designers in 2015, in its first collaboration with the Ethical Fashion Initiative (EFI), a flagship programme of the International Trade Centre, which itself is a joint agency of the United Nations and the World Trade Organization.

The Ethical Fashion Initiative links the world’s leading fashion talents to marginalised artisans - the majority of them women - in East and West Africa, Haiti and the West Bank.

Active since 2009, the Initiative enables artisans in low-income areas to connect with the global fashion chain, according to Simone Cipriani, the director and founder of the project. It also facilitates the development and production of high-quality, ethical fashion items that are delivered to luxury brands in a professional manner, he added.

Dent de Man
(photo: J.D. Pryce)
The EFI says that its aim is equally to “enable Africa’s rising generation of fashion talent to forge environmentally sound, sustainable and fulfilling creative collaborations with local artisans”. Under its slogan, “not charity, just work” the Initiative advocates for a fairer global fashion industry.

A special event titled “Constellation Africa” will thus promote young and talented designers from the continent at Pitti Uomo, and a runway show scheduled for June 18 will feature four brands that give priority to manufacturing in their home countries and are already known on the international market, said the fair’s organizers.

The brands are Dent de Man, MaXhosa by Laduma, Orange Culture and Projecto Mental, all of whom will present their men’s collections. The designers hail from Nigeria, South Africa, Angola and the Ivory Coast.

“I believe that Pitti Uomo is the best platform to showcase these innovative designers from Africa, the continent which hosts the future of fashion and couture“, said Cipriani.

Simone Cipriani
(photo: McKenzie)
“The richness of materials and the beauty of their designs are truly unique. This is where our global society is going: increasing interconnectedness. Global and local dimensions [being] brought together through fashion,” he said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Napoleone of Pitti said that the designers are four “real talents” who will do “something new and very interesting” that “must be seen”.

Apart from the African stylists, Pitti has named Moschino as the Menswear Guest Designer for this edition. The Italian house, founded in 1983 by the late Franco Moschino, will put on its first men’s runway show since American designer Jeremy Scott took over as creative director in October 2013.

Design by Moschino
In addition, Thomas Tait, the London-based Canadian designer who won the LVMH Young Fashion Designer Prize last year, has been selected as the Women’s Wear Guest Designer. He will create a special event for the Pitti audience on June 17.

The fair is also putting on an exhibition titled Il Signor Nino, which celebrates the work of 84-year-old Nino Cerruti, one of the leading figures in Italian men’s fashion for almost 50 years. The show has been curated by Cerruti and fashion journalist Angelo Flaccavento. It will take place at the Marino Marini Museum.

With this season’s theme of “That’s Pitticolor”, the fair’s Fortezza da Basso venue will be a site of installations, light plays and the first digital art projects, said the organizers. There will be an “Open” section that goes beyond “gender distinctions” and an “Unconventional” space to present “the most vibrant voices in the area of luxury underground styles”, said Napoleone.

Raffaello Napoleone
He added that Pitti would no longer present women’s collections under a gender sign but that these would be distributed around the 59,000-square-meter space according to styling criteria.

A Born in the USA section, in cooperation with the Liberty Fairs group, will be a highlight as well, bringing “some of the best born and made in the USA brands to Florence,” Napoleone told reporters.

Some 1,150 brands will participate in the fair this year, and the organizers expect to welcome a greater number of visitors than the 30,000 who attended in 2014. - L. McKenzie & J.M. De Clercq