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Mary Edoro: I Attended the Biggest Textile Exhibition in Milan + Went Shopping in my Dream City! Read About My #BNatMilanoUnica Trip Here

Mary Edoro

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Ciao, BellaNaijarians!

I’m still on a high note from visiting my dream city, Milan! It’s Mary Edoro here and I just returned from a lovely 5-day experience in Milan for the biggest textile and fabrics fair in Italy, Milano Unica. I gave you the scoop before I traveled and no doubt the experience superseded my expectations.

So, without much ado, let me give you the full gist about how it all went!

From the airport, I knew it was going to be a fantastic trip as I met two of my favourite Nigerian designers and 3 fashion people from Ghana that I absolutely adore; Mai Atafo of Atafo, Bubu Ogisi of IamIsigo, Aisha K. Ayensu of Christie Brown, Nelly Hagan-Aboagye of Duaba Serwa and Claudia Lumor founder of Glitz Africa Fashion Week; en route.

I arrived on Monday at the beautiful city and checked into the lovely Unahotel Cusani. Check out my minimalist bedroom, I really enjoyed it.

Once I had settled in and had a hot shower (it was 6° in Milan, guys – I was freezing), I joined the others from West Africa to tour the city. We went to the Duomo di Milano, Milan Cathedral and honestly, it’s one of the most beautiful buildings I’ve ever seen – Così Bello! Next, we had dinner at the Motta Caffè Bar Milano 1928 inside the stunning Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II mall.

After dinner, we went shopping, there were so many of my favourite high street stores like Zara, Mango and much more, as well as some luxury brands really close to my hotel. I couldn’t help it – I blew my budget!

Milano Unica 30th Edition; 4th – 6th of February 2020

Panel Discussions

The main events started on Tuesday at Fieramilano Rho and it was really wonderful to be a part of the delegates from different African countries. There were a number of truly impactful sessions on the first day, we were warmly welcomed and the day kicked off with a panel discussion moderated by the outgoing president of Milano Unica, Ercole Botto Poala. The discussions emphasized this year’s exhibition theme “Sustainable Creativity” and it’s importance today.

Photo Credit: @milanounica_mu

Another panel discussion that truly stood out for me was the discussion with Italian based Cameroonian designer Paul Roger Zenamn and Maria Maddalena del Grosso, the Manager of Consumer Goods with the Italian Trade Agency.

It was tagged “The African continent: challenges and opportunities of the markets of the future”. It was truly insightful and I represented the Nigerian delegates.

One major takeaway from the discussion was that the non-viable notion “Africa is a country” needs to change as there are so many diverse countries and cultures and this delegation provided the opportunity to introduce the African market to Italy and vice versa, as well as foster profitable relationships.

with Paul Roger Zenamn

With Michelle Ngonmo, CEO & Founder of Afro Fashion Week in Milano

On the final day, the event was crowned with a talk session tagged MU Back to School – Embedding Reinvention. Remo Ruffini, Chairman, and CEO of Fashion Brand Moncler in conversation with Emanuele Farneti, Editor-in-chief Vogue Italia and L’Uomo Vogue, talking about Moncler’s story and its “Embedding Reinvention”.

Here were some key points I learned from the discussion:

As a growing fashion designer you must;

– Know clearly your brand’s DNA and have a clear purpose
– Understand that collaborations lead to learning experiences and even greater opportunities
– Look out for market trends and leverage them / evolve with the trends

Photo Credit: @milanounica_mu

 

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Exhibitions

There were over 6,000 Italian and European textile factories and manufacturers displaying top-quality products for the Spring/Summer 2021 season. From the vintage area to the sustainability area, it was truly an eye-opener for me. The manipulation of fabrics and how huge the textile industry is in Europe inspired me.

These were some of my favourites:

The Vintage area

The Sustainability Area

The display by fashion students

The Gen Z Area

This Area with these Italian wax by the Rati company sparked a lot of conversations among the African delegates

In conclusion, responsibility, vision, technology, and expertise were at the forefront of this year’s exhibition and all the exhibitors truly stuck to the theme.

Interviews and Feedback

I spoke to some of the Nigerian delegates as well as a key person in the Italian Trade Agency about the experience and why it was important to have African delegates at this edition.

Maria Maddalena del Grosso, Manager of Consumer Goods Italian Trade Agency

 

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Patricia Ojoro, CEO/Managing Director of Promoprint Nigeria

 

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Bubu Ogisi, Creative Director IamIsigo

My Highlights

There were 3 Nigerians, 3 Ghanaians, 6 Tanzanians, 2 Ethiopians, 6 Kenyans, 23 Angolans among others, so it was a really interesting mix. My best moments were spent in the company of other Africans, I enjoyed learning about their fashion industries – what works and what doesn’t as well as discussing how best we can all work together collectively to move the fashion industry in Africa to greater heights.

with Claudia of AO International Trade Show

The experience was definitely phenomenal, from interacting and making connections with European manufacturers and also key Africans in the fashion industry, to exploring one of my absolutely favourite cities in the world. I honestly did not want to leave but I was really craving Jollof Rice haha and now I can’t wait to go back!

Thanks to the Italian Trade Agency for this amazing opportunity!

I hope you enjoyed following my updates on @bellanaijaonline #BNatMilanoUnica

See ya real soon, in a city close to you *wink*

Mary Edoro is a seasoned writer and content creator. Mary blogs about her personal style and offers guides to her favourite city, Lagos on her blog - Lagos City Chic with plans to conquer the world one cup of coffee at a time. Follow her on Instagram @lagoscitychic BellaNaija Beauty: [email protected] @bellanaijabeauty BellaNaija Style: @bellanaijastyle BellaNaija Living: @bellanaijaliving

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