Its strength lies in small companies, which find a showcase at WHITE Milano. This year’s highlights include sustainability and a project involving 12 buyers and 12 designers
WHITE Milano. The event was created by Massimiliano Bizzi nineteen years ago. He had an idea in mind, and today he tells us what that was: “In every city, town and village in Italy, we find multi-brand stores that are famous and envied throughout the world, able to act as a driving force on an international scale. Insufficient attention is paid to retail as part of movements within the fashion system – and yet it is one of the major sources of experience and culture for our sector.” Since 2000, the event has continued to attract buyers, retailers and designers: from Italy, from around the world. Bizzi was one of the first people to realize the potential of the Tortona Fashion District. It was 2002 when WHITE, which started out as part of Moda Milano, became an independent format.
This year, the fair is opening one day early and is in line with the Milan Fashion Week women’s schedule. From Thursday 19 September to Sunday 22. More than 550 brands, 27 thousand visitors, backed by a close-knit fashion system, the patronage of the Municipality of Milan, the support of the Italian Ministry of Economic Development and the Italian Trade and Investment Agency and the contribution of the Lombardy Region. What’s new? More designers – the special guest, the Japanese company Munè by Munemori Uemuro -, the expansion of the exhibition area, the illustrations by Lucia Emanuela Curzi. The partnerships, like the one with the Sicily Region, and the new site in Via Tortona 31 (Ex Carrozzeria). It is here, in the spaces of Archiproducts, that another identity is revealed, an encounter: between WHITE and Camera Buyer (CBI), the Italian luxury multi-brand community.
Its name is Contemporary Window. Twelve top buyers from the Lombardy region choose twelve on-trend brands. Twelve outfits for twelve designers. Recognition for the multi-brand stores that have made a name for themselves in Lombardy for their choices, for their ability to translate a way of perceiving themselves, fashion. Tombolini, who used to work for Armani, Gucci and Yoox and has been President of CBI since last November – the first manager to hold the position – has announced a transformation. The Italian Chamber of Fashion Buyers becomes a community, with a name and a mission, to strengthen an identity – Community-Based Identity, the other meaning contained in the acronym CBI. “Our Italian buyers – Bizzi observes – are passionate about research. They are proactive and that goes hand in hand with the new journey that CBI has embarked upon.”
Contemporary Window: promoting Lombardy-based luxury multi-brand stores around the world, building a bridge between top brands and leading retailers in the region. There’s Milan, with Banner bringing Bethany Williams and Biffi Boutique presenting Eudon Choi. There’s Brescia, with Penelope selecting the Natasha Zinko brand and Rail introducing Marine Serre. Ganni has been chosen by Lattuada, a shop in San Vittore Olona, Nanushka by the Tessabit multi-brand in Como, Stand by TheCorner.com_Tony Boutique in Magenta, Rotate by Il Sellaio, while in Casatenovo in the province of Lecco, Alessandra Rich is the choice of the Varese Base Blu store. There’s Cremona with the Cose store, which has chosen the MCLXX Street Couture brand. There’s Mantua with Bernardelli and Jeiia, and there’s Carate Brianza with Mantovani and Saloni. Multimedia installations tell visitors about the heritage of Lombardy-based shops – while on the first floor, a melting pot of buyers, press from all over the world. “The Lombardy Region strongly supports initiatives like this one – says Alessandro Mattinzoli, Councilor for Economic Development – especially in a driving force such as fashion, in which Lombardy excels in terms of both the quality of its manufacturers and the importance of the trade fairs that shine a spotlight on and improve visibility within the sector. These are opportunities for growth, events whose importance also lies in their great international appeal.”
The key to WHITE Milano is dynamism, that intermingling of ideas that creates trade. The venues: Via Tortona 27, 31, 35 and 54. The sections: the Basement, with a focus on experimental stylistic research, Inside White, for the development of new proposals, White Beauty, White Glasses, White Bijoux and White Studio, from the partnership with Confartigianato Imprese. “WHITE Milano is not a static fair, but a fair that reinvents itself every season,” explains the event’s founder, who describes the highlight of the edition in one word: “Sustainability. It is beginning to change the connotations, philosophy and rules of our trade, which is why we are continuing to work on the topic, also in view of the next edition.What point have we reached when it comes to technology? How is sustainability perceived and how feasible is it?”
These are the unknown variables of the fashion system, questions that mark a path that is both ethical and social. And to which small and medium enterprises are one answer. “Sustainability has become our main objective – continues Bizzi -, one to which we dedicate time and resources. Making products that are also sustainable, that is the real trend today, and small companies also boost sustainability, as they manufacture in Italy and don’t go abroad to take advantage of lower labor costs or use polluting products. As for the food sector, small companies are less industrialized and therefore more sustainable.” It’s not just about business. It’s about “turning fashion into culture”. Bizzi concludes: “I would like the message to get around that small is trendy at the moment. Not as opposed to big as a whole but above all as opposed to the big invasion of ‘low cost’. Low cost is the great polluting mass.”
Tortona and WHITE Milano. It seems like an open world, rediscovering the indecision of a rough draft. Looking for something different outside itself. A fair like a souk, confusion that is busier, just more regulated. The same craving to meet and discover new things. Rediscovering a culture of trade, putting an exaggeration into perspective. Looking at ourselves in shop windows, seeing what we are, what we have become. Milan seems to be the center of the world for those of us in it, a center with small dimensions. Here is where things are born, here is where we come back to feel that sense of enthusiasm.
Text Emanuela Giacca
Lampoon is a media partner of Contemporary Window, a special cross-connection project at WHITE Milano 2019. You can follow the updates over the coming days on our website and on the WHITE Milano and CBI multimedia channels.