Is Milan finally shifting its attitude towards emerging talents?
World-renowned Italian powerhouse Armani garners a movement of supporting young designers
For a city full of established and world-renowned brands, Suzy Menkes' favourite question in Milan in recent years has become, "Can anybody name me one Italian designer under the age of 50?" But the Italians are showing promising and necessary signs of an, albeit delayed, movement towards nurturing younger designers and shaking up their staid ways.
Emerging on the scene, the new generation of Italian designers have had a difficult time making a name for themselves in a market saturated with brands that have been on the tips of consumers tongues since they stepped foot into the industry, whereas across the Channel and the Atlantic it has been a different story for the last decade. Here, emerging talent has an easier time being noticed, with London and New York garnering a reputation of being a launching pad and platform, offering mentorship and financing, as well as an open mind towards new ideas and concepts and a famous social scene of younger socialites supporting equally young talents (Lisa Marie Fernandez to Henry Holland).
While these other regions are opening their arms to fresh faces as breeding grounds for brands to emerge, Natasha Slater, a PR consultant and events organizer who works with Dolce & Gabbana and Belvedere says there are some initiatives, which are pushing Milan in the right direction. In working with Dolce & Gabbana, one of the first projects Slater focused on was the launch of Spiga2, later rebranded as Piave37. The multi-brand boutique's aim was to showcase young designers on the Milanese scene, which is where labels such as Umit Benan (who is planned to show in Paris this season), and MSGM began and have now gone on to much greater success on an international scale.
These young Italian brands such as MSGM and Paula Cademartori are examples of new talents that have managed to penetrate with a fresher approach that reaches the younger demographic who are sartorially savvy and a part of the blogosphere, through their strong design concepts and strategy.
Leading the way in offering mentorship and also financial backing is Giorgio Armani, who has welcomed young designers to the stage under his guidance. On the first day of Milan's menswear week, in between Ermenegildo Zegna and Costume National shows, Julian Zigerli a 29 year-old designer, showed his collection at the Armani/Teatro in a joint sponsorship between the Italian brand and L'Uomo Vogue. Though the new designer is not an Italian - in fact he is from Switzerland - talent is talent, which is something Mr Armani recognised.
And whilst Italy also has its famous Pitti Uomo fair with a long history of being the place for emerging talent as well as established brands to showcase their work in the most creative space imaginable off of the runway, it too faces competition from the other fashion capitals encroaching on their dates and showcasing in more dazzling and enticing ways - as this year London's Burberry dates conflicted, leaving Pitto Uomo's chief executive Raffaello Napoleone little choice but to arranged for a private plane to fly media and buyers to Florence the moment the Burberry show had concluded on January 8, costing the trade show a cool $39,000 - a small amount when put against the amount of revenue that it would turn around and make for it's home city of Florence.
Italy's contribution to the growth of emerging talents has already proven itself to be a positive one, meanwhile its industry veterans in Milan are starting to demonstrate their welcoming of new names in the country's fashion capital, Pitti Uomo held up their end bringing the media and buyers back to Florence regardless of conflicting events in London. And so it seems, where Italy is concerned, there is in fact a future for young designers after all.