Carlo Capasa, Raffaello Napoleone on millennials, sustainability and future of menswear

The e-P Summit in Milan, which was organised by Pitti Immagine -- via the jointly owned Fiera Digitale company -- at the Talent Garden Milano Calabiana on November 20 and 21, gave the opportunity for Carlo Capasa, President of CNMI (the Italian National Fashion Chamber) and Raffaello Napoleone, CEO of Pitti Immagine, to discuss the growth of the menswear market and the strategies to sustain it.

Carlo Capasa and Raffaello Napoleone, between Giampiero Baudo of Esquire (left) and Stefano Roncato of MF Fashion (right) - Fiera Digitale

“The textile industry grew 2% in the third quarter of the year, and also fashion, especially with menswear and accessories, posted strong growth in the same period,” said Napoleone. “The outlook for the remaining three months is equally positive, especially for luxury goods [as they will also include the Black Friday results],” he added.
 
“Menswear will grow by over 3% in 2018, and womenswear by 2%, so men’s fashion will outperform the women’s sector, though the latter does generate greater sale volumes,” said Capasa, reminding that 30% of European menswear production is concentrated in Italy.

“Although, if we exclude workwear, [Italy] accounts for 46% of output, and in terms of formal wear alone, Italy produces 70% of Europe's total output. We are indeed the leaders in menswear production,” he added.
 
Napoleone went on to say that, of the 1,250 exhibitors at the Pitti Uomo show, sportswear and street-style brands, which are tapping the trends that are revolutionising the menswear market, now account for about 30% of the total.

“The rules of fashion have completely changed: casual outfits are now acceptable even on occasions that, until a few years ago, were deemed extremely formal, and sneakers are sanctioned for almost any occasion,” said Napoleone. “It is interesting that at the Pitti Uomo show we also feature many women's collections: in sports and activewear they are launched in unison [with men’s collections],” he added.
 
“A 2018 survey on the UK market showed that millennials consume 60% more than the previous generation. Their average spend is £1,216 per year, compared to £860 per year by earlier generations of young people,” said Capasa.

“This means that contemporary, young male consumers spend more money, and they love fashion and streetwear. It’s a major shift. Bear in mind that 54% of millennials buy Gucci and 68% of them buy Balenciaga. We could say that millennials will save menswear. The fact is that they are having a huge influence on current consumption trends, together with China and Far East markets.”
 
Napoleone added that Pitti Immagine was the first show organiser to boost investment in the digital field. The show was ahead of its time, giving the chance for buyers, two days after the end of the Pitti Uomo, Bimbo and Filati shows, to access the events again via the e-Pitti platform.

"We set [e-Pitti] up Fiera Digitale with Francesco Bottigliero, its CEO, a company whose merger with Pitti Immagine we are currently assessing. We are planning to become more and more of a digitalised, omni-channel event, quite a challenge for a trade show. With the Pitti Foundation and events like Taste, we are also trying to create the environment to highlight the worth of Italian excellence in art and cuisine too," said Napoleone.
 
Last week, CNMI instead staged a workshop for fashion labels on how to promote and manage their business in a digital world.

"I think that, from the digital point of view, we can only improve in the coming years,” said Capasa. “During last September's Milan Fashion Week there were 17.3 million online interactions with the #MilanFashionWeek hashtag, three times more than those during the London Fashion Week, and the Milan Men’s Fashion Week generated 14.5 million impressions out of 160 million in total generated during the 20 days of the fashion weeks period,” he added. “Italy is the stage for the world’s leading menswear fashion shows, beginning in Florence and ending in Milan.

“No other country is able to offer so much in terms of customer experience or opportunities for establishing commercial relations, with over 300 labels. The latest Milan fashion season saw an increase in the number of co-ed shows, especially in February, during the women’s week. For the next Milan Men’s Fashion Week, with fewer labels on the calendar, we will focus more resources on promoting emerging designers, and we will feature more special events and exhibitions,” said Capasa.
 
Sustainability, one of the assets of Italian fashion in the future, is also high on the agenda, but both Capasa and Napoleone said that “rules must be set to identify what ‘sustainable’ really means.”

“According to a survey by a British brand, Italy is five years ahead of the UK on sustainability, and over 10 years ahead of other countries,” said Capasa.

“Above all, I believe that Italy should be the country for beautiful, well-made and sustainable clothes. I also believe that the watch-word for the future should be ‘awareness’. As Italians, we must be aware of our strength, and of our ability to create something special when we work as a team,” concluded Capasa.

Translated by Nicola Mira

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