15 June 2021

Have you ever wondered how clothes end up in shops? Buyers descend on trade fairs once or twice a year to purchase stock to fill their shelves. And it may come as a surprise that not all the clothes come from the runways of Paris and Milan: You’ll see peacock males lining up to display the latest looks in Florence at the historic Fortezza da Basso, where the Pitti Uomo men’s fashion trade fairunderscores that powerful Italian spirit of past and present embodied by this historic city.

Behind this world-renowned trade fair is Raffaello Napoleone, its CEO, who spoke to me about celebrating this year’s 100th edition of Pitti Uomo and shared his thoughts on the post-pandemic landscape for the fashion industry.

Raffaello Napoleone, CEO of PItti Immagine and Italian fashion crusader

To get back into post-Covid action, the premier men’s trade fair will ‘double-track’, with a digital as well as real-life fashion week. The digital platform, Pitti Connect, was founded by the visionary CEO 12 years ago. Napoleone is also the CEO of Pitti Immagine – a not-for-profit Italian organisation to promote the fashion industry and ‘Made in Italy’ marque – and heads up Pitti Bimbo for children; Pitti Filati for yarns; and is one of the founders of the Polimoda Fashion School in Florence, set up with Linda Loppa (former Head of the Fashion Department at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp) to help preserve the Italian fashion industry. 

In teaching and in fashion, Napoleone always looks to the future, and is excited at how current powerful changes to sustainability are transforming Italy’s attitudes to production and consumption.

Can the physical format of a trade fair and – above all – its interaction with its audience really be revived? Napoleone says “Si!” and has stretched his wings to include trade fairs of artisan perfumes, food, and homewares. They all prove, post-Covid, that growth starts at home. 

Discover more at pittiimaggine.com.