Just like we did before the 83rd Pitti Immagine Uomo, we contacted some of those who took part in this important fair. Now that the curtain has come down on Pitti and the menswear runways, we contacted 5 insiders from the world of the web and the most important editorial staff, asking their opinion of this edition and in particular what they found striking. We put these questions to all of them: “Thinking about this last edition of Pitti Immagine Uomo, what struck you in particular? Is there a trend you would like to highlight? A moment you liked? A brand (or more than one) that you discovered and would like to tell us about?”. Here are their answers, some enthusiastic, others perhaps who expected something more, those who liked the projects in collaboration, others the special appointments. All we need to do now is read them!
Thinking back to this last Pitti Immagine Uomo, what was interesting for me was this fair’s increasing bent towards internationalisation. In a moment of global belt tightening, especially in Italy, I think we need to find appealing solutions for the international buyers who must choose Florence for their buying. Hosting brands with a broad international scope, from it-brands like Kenzo to new talents like Erïk Bjerkesjö, would seem to be a winning move. In addition to this, one of obvious growing trends is the expansion of Pitti into the women’s fashion sector. Many brands are in fact choosing to preview their women’s collections in this location (which until a short time ago was strictly the realm of male fashion), in an attempt to beat Paris on the starting blocks. One of my favourite new brands is Camo from Biella which, with its performance inspired by car rallies, has once again proven that it is perfectly capable of finding a profitable balance between business and casual style.
I found this winter edition very lively, more so than usual, with both participating companies and the press showing a great desire to innovate, seeking to amaze even with their very international-scope backdrops. A winter edition with all the colour and verve of a summer fair! Of the trends I saw, I definitely want to signal a return of strong bright colours for winter as well, plus a big turnaround in trends - the finest wool and yarns whether coats or even just big sweaters, are back as the main outerwear garment for the male wardrobe, pushing the more modern puffer jacket into second place. I found the analysis and dialogue sessions organised together with the RCS group in Piazza della Repubblica very interesting, featuring various experts in fashion, art and communication. Another winning idea was the fact that citizens were offered a chance to be proactive in these appointments, not just standing by as spectators for the umpteenth time. Of the brands present, Var/city certainly made an important debut, putting Made in Italy firmly back centre stage even on foreign markets and reaping success with the press and buyers. Another interesting idea was to bring to Pitti, a men’s fashion event, a line of accessories created exclusively for dogs, Frida, which is all about study into material and quality, always 100% made in Italy!
Every season, as soon as I arrive in Florence and so that I am not blown away by the incredible range of brands – and just as many different points of view regarding male style – I put on metaphoric blinkers that, like enhanced reality, filter what could potentially interest me from the multi-coloured background mass. The editorial line of the website I headed for six years, Frizzifrizzi, has always preferred small brands made in Italy. So, these are the ones I consider, after visiting a few old familiars to see how they are evolving (Camo, Studiopretzel, SuperDuper Hats, YOU, PEB Clothing, L'F) and looking out new things to talk about. Quite frankly I was a bit disappointed this time, given that I felt the last Pitti Immagine Uomo was the “edition of transition": halfway along that tunnel leading towards the light, after a long black period, what I perceived was a general feeling of bewilderment, a tuning in of aerials to something very fuzzy but, ultimately, not so much courage. There were three constants however that I came across time and again around the fair: transformations (in other words: you buy one you get two, three, four, with transformable shoes, garments that change to meet the needs, “three-in-one” hats), collaboration and territory. Going beyond the frontiers of Italy, above all towards Japan, the young brands focus on growing their foreign market shares, already substantial compared to those at home, concentrating however on local materials and processing, histories, culture and even local products for their inspiration. And this looking out from “home” brings collaboration with more famous or more exotic labels or with other brands that have perhaps followed the same path as you (never before has collaboration, above all between “small” businesses, seemed to have so much symbolic human value, going beyond pure commercial aspects). The real surprise at this edition has nothing to do directly with the brands but with the fair itself: thanks to a friend, I got the chance to visit the “control room” and write a long article on e-Pitti, the virtual fair thanks to which Pitti continues online long after the last exhibitor has taken down his stand and gone home. I have a weakness for backstages, for technical features and in e-Pitti I discovered a true “force to be reckoned with”, cutting edge and with impeccable organisation.
The classic exhibitors include Allegri and the new philosophy of rain (with its own short film), MP by Massimo Piombo, which is about as dandy as it gets and the Woolrich universe, always unimpeachably casual. New names worthy of mention? I would say the special project by White Mountaineering, Japanese fashion for a techno winter and the American Billy Reid. As always, eyewear by Linda Farrow was an astonishing must-see. Trends? Definitely the materials – nothing is as it seems. Nylon has become neoprene, tweed is waterproof and Shetland wool is soft to the touch.
This last Pitti Immagine Uomo has left me with less than exciting memories. Thinking about it though, it is possible that these were affected by the sharp return to work after an albeit brief period of relaxing holidays. The first important international appointment with men’s fashion is in fact held immediately after the Christmas holidays in January, a cold grey month. Now that I am actually writing about it, I can easily recall the bolts of lightning provided by both the weather and the fair, flashes of light at the Fortezza da Basso. Absolutely no complaints whatsoever about the efficiency of the organisation machine. This 83rd edition was yet again perfect in terms of both technical aspects and content. The only flaw, a problem I hope the organisers will soon solve, is the difficulty with mobile and data communication (wireless). A detail that will definitely help operators (exhibitors, buyers and press) to work much better at the event. Getting back to the fair content, I was struck by the predominance of an urban/metropolitan style deviated into a more tailored key. The trend is to blend formal garments with the more common casual clothing, in an attempt to find a unique personal style. For next autumn/winter, men will dress in garments with a formal military feel, also from the past, destructured and reworked in a contemporary key. This is the case of two Italian brands that have developed very interesting military-inspired collections: 1st pat-rn and President’s. One great find was Ecoalf, a Spanish brand at Pitti for the first time, which is riding the wave of beautiful, far from miserable, eco-friendly fashion. Tees and sweaters in recycled cotton, jackets in cloth containing recycled coffee grounds and then trainers, jackets and bags in fabrics made from recycled fishing nets and PET bottles. Classic is still a benchmark for this event and for Italy. Every year the standards of quality and research take the product to a higher level. As far as the events side is concerned, and there are always plenty of them, I really liked the Alternative Set project that, as its name says, offers young designers the opportunity to present their collections in “alternative” spaces and situations. Here I must stress the quality of the talents selected: ACF, Luca Larenza, Camo, Studiopretzel, You and Carlo Contrada. It would seem that the menswear market is performing very well (unlike womenswear), acting as a driver for the whole district. In confirmation of all this, this time round the fair saw an increase in the number of international buyers, undeniably bringing a breath of fresh air and vigour to the market. Pitti Uomo is therefore still a must-visit for the sector, the ideal meeting place for market, research and creativity.