Raffaello Napoleone’s opinion on fairs
To mitigate the uncertainty of this troubled time, Raphael Napoleon wanted to keep the point as long as possible. Not until the end, it would have been an imprudent stubbornness, but certainly until it was reasonably sensible: “June became an unattainable goal as soon as the production of the companies was stopped.
The conditions for bringing the samples to Florence have ceased “, summarizes the CEO of Pitti Immagine. From here, the most obvious and painful decision: to postpone the fair dedicated to men’s fashion. “And get closer to the other big events on the international calendar.” Looking ahead, glimpses of confidence can still be glimpsed:
«In the summer the situation will be better than what we are experiencing in recent weeks. Mine is a thoughtful, reasoned, non-instrumental reassurance. Our actions will allow us to limit the virus. Once the infection is over, healing comes. We will overcome the crisis ».
Italy will be able to rekindle. Slowly, while dragging his scars, as China is doing now: «They tell me that at the traffic lights in Shanghai the queue is formed, you go to the shops and restaurants, even if you move with masks and gloves. The necessary countermeasures are taken, but life has restarted ».
The time will come to do the X-ray of the damage, certainly painful perspectives are inevitable: “The impact of the current picture will be significant and will have multiple consequences. The months of stop, of lost sales, can hardly be recovered. 2020 will be characterized by widespread stickiness. The impact will be felt on the availability of raw materials, on production, marketing, distribution and purchase. The market will fall back, it will suffer the impact of the lesser movement of people “.
In such a scenario, which grants rare and exhausting glimpses of optimism, fairs double in meaning. Even with a distorted calendar, they go beyond their functional logic: “They are moments of analysis and summary, they allow you to discover in a few days what is the state of fashion, the directions that the sector is taking declined in the coming seasons”. A need that is affirmed by overcoming the physical co-presence: the next Pitti can be explored from afar, by those who will not be able to be there, as well as by those who will be there, but intend to extend, deepen, extend the dialogue started in Tuscany.
The access key will be the e-PITTI Connect digital platform. The consolidation of a deeply rooted intuition: “We have always paid great attention to new technologies. The know-how acquired over time provides us with an immediately usable tool in an unpredictable situation. We are strengthening it, we will launch an unedited version to make it an element of total content sharing.
A place of remote interaction that develops in advance and during the fair, which in the weeks following the closing continues to offer opportunities to conclude agreements and forge relationships between exhibitors and buyers “. More: through a collaboration with the ICE, the agency for the promotion of Italian companies abroad, the aim is to further extend the duration and field of action of the platform. The plan is that it will become operational throughout the year by extending it to other industries, not only in the fashion sector.
In this fluid osmosis between real and virtual, the city from which everything starts, where the event takes place, carves out a specific role: “In Florence, with its provincial dimension in terms of surface, its palaces and gardens, concentrates what is dispersed elsewhere. In the past we could have moved the event to other markets, but staying where we are is the consequence of a precise strategy.
Every time we participate in French, German and American events, we realize that in no exhibition center around the world the atmosphere that is generated inside the Fortezza da Basso can be replicated. Despite its weaknesses in terms of age or the need to put the systems back in place, what is created at Pitti is a spirit of community ». A collective dimension is recovered which, at least for the moment, appears lost, interrupted, paused. Finding it will be breathing the past. A choral exercise of normality.
Opening: Raffaello Napoleone (Rome, 1954) has been the CEO of Pitti Immagine since 1989. After graduating in law in Rome, and executive management and marketing courses at Stanford University, he worked as a manager in charge of personnel at Salvatore Ferragamo spa. Among other things, he is a member of the board of directors of Ente Moda and Polimoda.