Pitti’s Swinging Sixtieth

Pitti Uomo August 2014-1

Celebrating its 60th Anniversary, Pitti Uomo just upped the ante.

It would be unfair to compare the most recent edition of Pitti Immagine Uomo to our American trade shows. This was, after all, their 60th Anniversary, and who wouldn’t want to make a serious splash in honor of such an auspicious occasion? The evening before the fair’s first day, Stefano Ricci, chairman of the Centro di Firenze per la Moda Italiana and Pitti Immagine president Gaetano Marzotto, put on a private performance in honor of the show: nothing major, just Andrea Bocelli, one of the best-selling Italian musical artists of all time, joined on stage by celebrated soprano Patrizia Orciani. And surely no one would be particularly surprised to hear that the man who holds the highest political office in Italy, Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, arrived at the historic Palazzo Vecchio to officially open the show.

Were we to put all that in an American context and put forward a proposal to match Pitti pound for pound, the event would have to include a private performance at Madison Square Garden, with headliners Beyoncé and Jay-Z, and the arrival of Air Force One replete with one Barack Obama for a menswear symposium at the Javits Convention Center. Excuse me while I hold my breath.

Pitti Uomo August 2014-2

In the meantime, the show in fabulous Firenze was strong, despite an ongoing overlap with London Collections: Men. People poured through the doors on day one, and the throng continued to swell throughout the week. “The attendance has been growing over several editions,” explained Pitti CEO Raffaello Napoleone. “What really surprised us was the increase in Italian buyers, and surely quite a good increase in international buyers. We are putting a great effort to be more international. In particular, at this edition, with the celebrations of the 60th anniversary we worked on a strong promotion plan to bring over top buyers and press, together with the Ministry of Economic development and ITA, the Italian Trade Agency, but it’s a matter of fact: if you want to be updated on the most cutting edge in fashion and lifestyle you must pass through Florence and Pitti Uomo.”

The event schedule would surely have made even the most seasoned socialite’s head spin. Art exhibitions by Francesco Vezzoli and by Elisabetta Rogai; photography exhibitions by Vogue Italia and by the Sartorialist, a Gucci museum, cocktail parties by Emilio Pucci, Emporio Armani and Stone Island, among many others, fashion shows by La Perla, Au Jour Le Jour, this edition’s guest designer Z Zegna and exclusive dinners at every ancient estate in the city and surrounding hills. “What are you up to this evening?” one menswear contemporary inquired of me. And as I replied, “I have Vogue then Pucci, Gucci and Cucinelli,” I reaffirmed how marvelous Pitti really is.

Pitti Uomo August 2014-3

The Fortezza da Basso was a constant kaleidoscope of men in fine clothing of every ilk. The people-watching alone was worth the trip. Street style photographers flocked to the fort’s gate to photograph the never-ending dress-up procession, and while the collections presented by the brands are the main attraction, there is important trend spotting to be had amongst the crowd. “The Pitti “peacocks” are out in full force,” exclaimed Saks’ Eric Jennings. “This really does solidify Pitti Uomo’s place as the Mecca for men’s street style photographers.” He continues, “There is an incredibly robust schedule of events, shows and presentations this season. The fair seems upbeat and optimistic about the direction menswear’s going in.”

Brands we talked to echoed that optimism. “I thought the atmosphere was very enthusiastic,” said Andrea Benedini, director of worldwide exports at Lubiam. “We chose to focus on the suit as the key element of the season, both for L.B.M. 1911 and Luigi Bianchi Mantova, and the unlined and garment-dyed L.B.M. 1911 blazers continue to be well appreciated.”

President of Kiton, Antonio Paone exclaimed, “The colors at Pitti Uomo this year are so vibrant and refreshing; the mix of different lines on the new third floor forms a fantastic display. It’s a great show!”

Vice president of Sand North America, Rian Gardiner said, “We met with more North American buyers than ever this season. Everyone seemed optimistic and in search of new and inspirational product.” And global sales director at Eton of Sweden, Erik Wilkinson was similarly positive about the international attendance. “We had 1,200 visitors the first two days,” Wilkinson enthused. “The first day last year we had 248 visitors, and the first day this year we had 570, so it’s been like a discotheque here. This fair has always been international, but this season more than ever. We’ve seen so many Japanese customers, Indian customers; we just had The Collective here, who are the equivalent of Neiman Marcus in India, and who we’re launching with in January; China, Southeast Asia, and all over the Middle East; we’re excited.”

And “excited” just about sums up the overall outlook for spring ‘15. Italian brands are finding new opportunities with their more comfortable attitude to tailored clothing. And as global trade becomes more global than ever, Italian fabrics remain the pinnacle of luxury.

Trend Watch

Without doubt, the most outstanding trends present at Pitti this season were athleisure, relaxed tailoring and the merging of sportswear into the tailored space. Nick Woosterʼs subversive collaboration with Lardini, L.B.M. softcoats and the Cucinelli combination of luxury tailoring with performance pieces and denim, are all examples. Guest designer Z Zegnaʼs astonishing fashion show, and their merging of the Z Zegna and Zegna Sport lines cemented this menswear movement.

What Retailers are Saying:
“Dots, stripes and bandana prints really stood out this season. Lots of men were wearing straw boat hats which also looked fresh.” – Eric Jennings, Saks Fifth Avenue

“The morphing of tailored clothing and sportswear: there is a move toward a lifestyle way of dressing. No longer is tailored clothing strictly for the office, nor is sportswear banned from the boardroom.” – Kevin Harter, Bloomingdaleʼs

“Straw hats, sunglasses galore, bright colors, amazing linen and linen blends, and slip-on shoes.” – Bryan Reynolds, Scoop

Brand Watch

Produced in conjunction with LʼUomo Vogue and GQ Italia, The Latest Fashion Buzz brought together 12 international designers who are set to light menʼs fashion on fire. One of these 12, Munsoo Kwon, who cut his teeth with Helmut Lang, Thom Browne and Robert Geller, was a stand-out, displaying a contemporary architectural take on traditional tailoring. Alexander McQueen alum Six Lee was also excellent: conceptual tailoring with bold color. The Touch area was filled with fashion-forward brands. Nearly 100 including Avec ces Freres, Maison Luchino, Byungmun Seo and De Bonne Facture. And of course favorites Brunello Cucinelli and L.B.M. did not disappoint.

What Retailers are Saying:
“I iked the La Perla men’s show. I believe men’s loungewear is the next frontier. I also love a line from London called L’Estrange. They make terrific tailored zip-front hoodies. Brunello Cucinelli never fails to impress with his massive presentation at Pitti. Sand Copenhagen also showed a fantastic spring collection. Atelier Scotch’s collection looked perfect for the contemporary guy who wants to dress like a Pitti ʻpeacockʼ but without breaking the bank.” – Eric Jennings

“It’s always a treat to see how clever brands are in their presentations. Some of our favorites were Eidos, Drakeʼs and Hardy Amies. – Kevin Harter

“Standout brands for me were Buttero shoes, Troubadour Goods, Esemplare, Wooster + Lardini and Gran Sasso.” – Bryan Reynolds

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