The return of Gucci to the menswear fashion calendar, strong sales of Italian fashion and a farewell to the pandemic-imposed trend of virtual fashion shows — all that counts for men’s fashion week that opens Friday in Milan.
Promising spectacle and optimism after a year in which sales of Italian fashion recorded the highest growth in the last 20 years, the presentation of men’s fall-winter 2023/2024 collections continues until Tuesday.
Of the 79 shows, only four are digital, a legacy of the debilitating pandemic period that caused sales to plummet and halted live runway shows.
Nothing can replace “the live experience, the madness, the anticipation, the applause, the top models parading the catwalk and the powerful music,” fashion consultant Elisabetta Cavatorta told AFP.
The most awaited is the Gucci fashion house, which for the first time in three years is organizing a fashion show exclusively for men.
It will also be the first since the sudden departure of artistic director Alessandro Michele in November.
With bold, colorful collections that leaked in the 1970s, Michele has been given a new lease of life after being tapped in 2015 to revive sales of the famous brand with its world-famous striped logo in green and red.
While sales exploded 44 percent in 2018 for flagship brand Kering, growth has lagged behind rivals over the past two years.
“It remains to be seen whether Alessandro Michele’s departure will trigger a change in direction for the fashion house,” Cavatorta said.
As for who will take over the leadership of Gucci, the fashion world can’t wait to hear about Michele’s successor.
Armani, Prada, Fendi, Dolce & Gabbana and Zegna are among the big brands that will present their men’s collections in the Italian fashion capital.
But there have been defections, including Versace, which plans to show its men’s and women’s collections together in Los Angeles on March 10.
Despite the war in Ukraine and the impact of the energy crisis on the energy-intensive fashion supply chain, Italian fashion sales rose 16 percent to 96.6 billion euros ($104.4 billion) last year.
“This is the biggest revenue in the last 20 years,” Carlo Capasa, president of the Italian Chamber of Fashion, said at a presentation ahead of the show last month.
Inflation has had an impact, as Italian fashion prices have risen by around nine percent in 2022, but their increase is “a positive sign that closes a year marked by dramatic events and difficult times,” Capasa added.
Exports of “Made in Italy” fashion products rose 18.7 percent in the first nine months of last year, boosted by demand in the United States and Gulf countries where exports jumped by more than 50 percent.
Sales in China grew more moderately, at 18.8 percent, while exports to Russia fell by 26 percent, after the invasion of Ukraine.
But one area where the impact of the Covid-19 crisis will continue to be felt in Milan is the absence of Chinese buyers.
Despite the lifting of coronavirus-related health restrictions by Beijing authorities, the number of buyers traveling to the city for exhibitions will be “limited”, Capasa said.