Given it has spawned global fashion brands such as Armani, Dolce & Gabbana and Prada, Milan is more renowned for its fashion industry than any other sector; but for the next six months designers may have to step down from their pedestals for there’s another trade that’s angling for the limelight.
Yes, move over fashion, major commercial tradeshow Milan Expo 2015 is in town and the theme is food. Milan Expo, which opened its doors last month, isn’t your standard tradeshow – it’s set to draw in representatives from 145 countries and attract a whopping 20 million visitors during the six-month long event. It’s hoped that the fair, which will focus on nutrition and sustainable food, will bring a much-needed economic boost to the city, and the country.
Italy’s finance minister Pier Carlo Padoan is optimistic about what Milan Expo could deliver. “It represents a symbol of recovery and confidence that could translate into investment,” Padoan told reporters last month. It has been estimated that fair will rake in €10bn (£7.2bn), with half from foreign visitors.
Milan Expo is just one of the high-profile shows taking place in Italy’s second largest city this year. Other notable tradeshows include movies, comics and games exhibition Cartoomics, menswear fair Milano Moda Uomo and footwear tradeshow Micam. Many events are hosted by Fiera Milano – one of the world’s largest organiser of exhibitions – across its two exhibition centres, FieraMilanoCity and FieraMilano, which offering show organisers an expansive space of 750,000 sq m.
While Rome serves up show-stopping tourist attractions and is the political capital of Italy, Milan is considered the country’s capital of commerce, finance, media and fashion. Here the headquarters of the city’s banks are situated around the ancient financial district of Piazza Degli Affari. And with three airports – Malpensa, Linate and Bergamo Orio al Serio – the city has a superb transport hub to fly in domestic and international visitors.
Many of course swoop in for the business of fashion. The city is considered one of the fashion capitals of the world, holding its weight against equally stylish cities such as New York, London and Paris. It’s here the fashion pack congregate twice a year to see the catwalk collections from its homegrown talent during Milan Fashion Week. Countless fashion tradeshows take place here while brands from around the world flock to Milan show their collections to the world’s most prestigious buyers.
“In the past 10 years Milan has cemented its position as the centre for upmarket menswear,” says Eric Musgrave, editorial director of fashion trade bible Drapers. “Its more southerly rival Florence still hosts the important twice-yearly trade fair Pitti Immagine Uomo, but a number of important Italian brands, such as Ermenegildo Zegna, Canali, Corneliani and Pal Zileri, have quit Pitti to concentrate their selling and marketing efforts on Milan.
While the top international buyers still visit Florence, they spend more days in the northern city, making it a desirable place for British brands to gather to show their collections for the following season.”
Given its strong fashion credentials, it’s no surprise that Milan is considered a shoppers’ paradise. Even if the budget doesn’t lend itself to splashing out on a fine Armani suit, it’s still worth window browsing in Milan. Do check out the Quadrilatero d’Oro for designer boutiques and Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, one of the world’s oldest shopping malls that bears rather grand features. If like your designer brands to be far more encompassing, then fear not – Milan has hotels from its fashion houses such as the Bulgari Hotel and Armani Hotel. High-end designer influences have even seeped through into the arts with The Prada Foundation opening a new art complex in a 19,000 sq m distillery in May. And if you fancy dining amongst fine drapers, get thee to the Nobu restaurant, located in an Emporio Armani shop.
For a cultural break, catch a glimpse of the city’s tourist attractions. Number one on the list should be Leonardo da Vinci’s famous Il Cenacolo (The Last Supper) followed by the stunning Gothic cathedral, the Duomo. If you’re more into sport, Milan is famed for its football, having not one but two world-class teams, Internazionale and AC Milan.
From fashion to football, Milan pulls out all the stops in serving up a superlative city trip for business travellers and tourists alike. Bravo!
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