Fashion Value Chain Talks with Mr. Alessandro Barberis Canonico, Organizer, Milano Unica.
Milano Unica has a rich history of over 30 years. Could you tell us more about how it has evolved and its role in the fashion industry today?
Certainly. Milano Unica started as a textile fair over three decades ago. Initially, it was a platform for Italian producers to showcase their fabrics, buttons, and accessories. However, over the years, it has grown into an international event that attracts buyers from all corners of the world. We even expanded to include Milano Unica China to cater to the growing Chinese market. In the last decade, we have focused on curating a select group of high-quality exhibitors and maintaining the exclusivity of the fair.
Could you explain the criteria for selecting exhibitors and buyers for Milano Unica? How do you ensure the quality of the participants?
Selecting exhibitors is a meticulous process. We have a selection committee that reviews each exhibitor’s qualifications and products. Additionally, exhibitors can also invite others, but we rigorously assess their eligibility to maintain the high standards of the fair. Quality is paramount when it comes to exhibitors, as they represent the best of the best in the industry. For buyers, while we do our best to attract high-quality ones, it’s sometimes challenging to set stringent criteria, but we strive to maintain a certain level of excellence.
Milano Unica has ventured into special areas like sustainability, metaverse concepts, and showcasing innovative technologies. Could you elaborate on these initiatives and their importance in the fashion industry?
Milano Unica is committed to staying at the forefront of industry trends. We believe in looking ahead, which is why we’re exploring concepts like the metaverse, where we envision the future of fashion, textiles, and consumer engagement. Sustainability is a key focus. We have areas dedicated to showcasing sustainable products and innovations. This aligns with the growing global trend towards eco-friendly practices and materials. Additionally, we’re also spotlighting cutting-edge technologies, innovative production methods, and materials to drive positive change in the industry.
The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted many industries, including fashion. How did Milano Unica adapt during this challenging time?
The pandemic posed significant challenges for us. We organized an online fair where companies could showcase their collections on our website. However, the online format had limitations, such as the reduced quality of viewing compared to the physical event. Unfortunately, only a small percentage of exhibitors managed to sell their collections online. In response, we had to send most collections directly to the market through agents. It was a difficult period for everyone involved.
Can you tell us more about E-Milano Unica and its role in disseminating information and insights within the fashion industry?
E-Milano Unica is another initiative to provide information and insights. We host events at the venue, including presentations on market trends, studies by U.S. firms, and technical information about the collections presented at the fair. It’s a platform for knowledge-sharing and staying informed about the ever-evolving fashion landscape.
Sustainability is a prominent theme in the fashion industry. How does Milano Unica contribute to promoting sustainability in luxury fashion?
Sustainability is a top priority for us. We believe in leaving a better world for future generations. Sustainability encompasses social, environmental, and material aspects, from cotton to wool to silk. We encourage exhibitors to obtain internationally recognized certifications at every stage of the value chain, ensuring transparency and eco-friendly practices. Luxury fashion, in particular, benefits from sustainability as it leads to longer-lasting products, reducing waste.
Recycling is a critical aspect of sustainability. What are the challenges and opportunities in recycling fashion products, especially in the luxury market?
Recycling in the luxury market presents unique challenges due to the complex composition of high-end garments. Separating different fibers is difficult, especially when you have mixed materials like cashmere, polyester, and nylon. While recycling is a promising avenue, it’s currently challenging to maintain the same quality as the original product. We believe in producing long-lasting, reusable products to reduce the need for recycling. Recycling can be done chemically or mechanically, but it’s still an evolving field.
Lastly, what is Milano Unica’s message to consumers, especially in the luxury market, when it comes to sustainability?
Our message is simple: “Buy better, buy less.” Luxury products are designed to last, and by investing in quality, consumers can reduce their environmental impact. Sustainability should not be a trend but a way of life. We encourage consumers to choose products with sustainable certifications and consider the longevity of their purchases.