MILAN, Italy — Today, Milan’s biggest tradeshow will open its sprawling campus to buyers and members of the press. Founded in 2000, the fair continues to expand its Tortona hub, which has now tripled in size and is expected to play host to 30,000 buyers over the next four days.
In addition to opening two new events and exhibition spaces this season, White is continuing to reimagine its role within the Italian and global fashion industries. The tradeshow has responded to disruption in the buying cycle by recalibrating its model. This includes deepening its relationships with established brands like Belgian designer Sofie D’Hoore and Italian scarf maker Faliero Sarti through its “Special Areas” — immersive destinations within the tradeshow — as well as building bridges with major showrooms and emerging labels through additional initiatives and partnerships with the likes of Mastered — the London based professional education platform.
White’s growth (which is roughly 10 percent season-on-season in both exhibition space size and attendance figures) is rooted in Milan’s significance not only as a fashion week, with global brands like Gucci once again leading the consumer conversation in fashion, but as a ready-to-wear distribution capital servicing an international network of multi-brand stores and boutiques. For this edition, organisers have curated a selection of 551 brands with an increasingly international lens. Over a third of brands at the tradeshow are headquartered outside of Italy and there are 210 brands new to the event.
White has entered into a number of strategic partnerships to inform its international selection of brands. Renewing an existing partnership with London based educational platform Mastered, the tradeshow will welcome emerging designers: WJY Studio, Isla Fontaine, Tessa Spielhofer (who are returning following their débuts in September 2017 edition) as well as new names Sam Ham and Thread Em. All of the designers have previously completed the Mastered accessories course. “I officially launched Sam Ham in 2017, and through this partnership I hope to increase the exposure of my brand to buyers on an international level and gain industry insight and feedback on the collection. White has a strong reputation for being a diverse and exciting trade show,” says the designer Sam Ham.
Beside the labels selected with Mastered, a series of more established designers are new to the fair, including international labels like Kiev-based Ksenia Schnaider, which was founded in 2011 and is now widely distributed throughout Europe thanks to its popular Demi jean line, Synesthesiac, Babukhadia and Laura Theiss. “London attracts lots of press because of the innovative collections. Paris is known for buyers. Milan is a good mixture of both,” says Laura Theiss, a knitwear designer based in the United Kingdom, who is exhibiting at the trade show for the first time this season.
"We want to expand our business in the international women’s market and have been keeping a close eye on White's women's selection over the past few years and believe we can attract the right audience here. We don't just want to show our latest collection, we want to build our brand in the best possible way," say the founders of Daily Paper, Hussein Suleiman, Jefferson Osei and Abderrahmane Trabsini.
This season’s special guest is Rouge Margaux, the Parisian label led by Cem Çinar, previously of Y/Project and Rick Owens. For the first time, Rouge Margaux’s new collection will be presented in Milan with a live performance. “White is a respected institution amongst buyers that I know, with many giving very positive feedback on their experience, so it’s really an honour to have been invited as special guest designer this season,” says Çinar. The organisers are also celebrating Marco Rambaldi, a figure in Milan’s emerging design scene since he debuted at Milan Fashion Week in 2014, winning the Next Generation competition. Rambaldi will premier his short film “Vogliamo Anche Le Rose” and a product installation.
Other special projects include a exclusive ‘See Now Buy Now’ capsule collection by Federica Tosi. The first of its type ever to be shown at White, the collection will be available for delivery to store 15-days after the close of the tradeshow. This season will also see the continuation of the White Studio. Launched last September with support from the Confartigianto Imprese (Italy's SME and craft-business association), the project combines Italian design talent with leading Italian retailers, with the intention of celebrating Italian ready-to-wear designers with innovative and modern aesthetics.
White also continues to experiment with direct-to-consumer retail formats following its White Street Market initiative last season. This week, Milanese concept store Aere will launch Temporary Shop Aere X White in collaboration with the tradeshow. Aere stocks upcoming brands including Saskia Dies, Y/Project and Wanda Nylon, among many others.