With leaden skies and low turnout on the first day, edition 97 of the Pitti Uomo trade show in Florence got off to a rather discouraging start. Thankfully though, by dawn of day two the sun had burned through the Tuscan gloom, and with it came the people: from jetlagged sellers and discretely dressed buyers, to the cast of colorful characters that has turned Pitti into a key fixture on the international menswear circuit of late.
By late morning attendees were basking under clear blue skies out in the piazza, awaiting the start of what turned out be a rather ramshackle and inept open-air runway show. Among them were many of the usual Pitti profiles: the ridiculous tryhards; the dreary “gentlemen” bloggers; the tiresome “brand ambassadors;” the lobotimized hypebeasts clutching branded merch with Gollum-like avarice. And of course, there was that guy with his “decoratively” basted suits and “comic” oversized cigar again; still in its plastic wrapper and unsmoked, despite having been pulled out at every Pitti Uomo in living memory. Even a few minor Italian celebrities showed up – to the total indifference of absolutely everybody but their bank balances.
In short, if I were only marginally less charitable, this article might have been titled “Pitti the Fools!” As it is though, alongside the narcissists, corporate-succubi, and other assorted species of attention seeker, were scores of really very well dressed men. The kind who make you want to go home and put on something “comfortable.” For the rest of the millennium.
Let us not forget, though, that at Pitti there are just as many – if not more – interesting items of clothing to be found on the racks inside the pavilions as there are marching through the front gates to the click and whir of street-style motordrives. Back from our travels, we’ve sifted through the best looks – both on- and off-schedule. And in this somewhat belated report from Pitti Uomo 97, we once again break out our crystal ball in an attempt to predict what stylish men all over the world will be wearing come Fall/Winter 2020.
On the Street
Just when I’d arrived at the point where I could take no more luxuriant mustaches, Medieval capes, nor artfully angled fedoras; or was still reeling from a pair of bulbous Dad sneakers so huge I imagined their owner gliding across Florence’s Arno river without mishap; along would come a look so creative and elegant as to lay all cynicism to waste.
Take, for example, the dude who had piled about five layers of his neighbor’s laundry under a suit; accessorizing this not only with a necktie and a silk scarf, but also a whole pile of beads evidently snatched from a Parisian dame’s boudoir. On paper, the result sounds disastrous, yet somehow our hero came out of the affray utterly triumphant. Meanwhile, there was the guy who’d shown up in nothing more than an untucked dress shirt and an old pair of canvas work pants; yet donned them with such swagger that I’d have gladly bought these utterly unremarkable rags off his back in the vain hope of emulating the effect.
Of course, not everyone in attendance at Pitti is a trailblazer, and even many of the more inventive dressers are riffing on popular tropes. So what’s hot, and what’s been taken out to be shot, since last season?
Unsurprisingly, puffas were still going strong. Thankfully though, many were in somewhat less egregious tones than we were forced to endure last time around. Carpet coats, however, were an even bigger hit than the previous winter, with Nigel “perma-grin” Cabourn and friend clearly stealing the show on this front. Similarly, heavy shearling coats haven’t lost any credibility in the intervening twelve months either. So if you invested in a sheepskin on our advice last year, rest assured that you’ll still be reaping the rewards come next winter.
But if Pitti can be considered a genuine indicator of future menswear currents, the most notable outerwear trend we can expect to see in F/W 2020 is one for woolen overcoats in houndstooth, prince of wales, tweed, and various other types of check. This look was absolutely everywhere; frequently to rather elegant effect, it has to be said. Meanwhile, echoing a more general industry trend, multi-pocketed military-inspired clothing was also big. Although the “utility” look was perhaps more evident in the stands than out on the piazza.
Finally, a number of individuals wore fire departments coats with heavy hook fastenings. One was conspicuously a Calvin Klein number, while others looked more like they may have been the real thing. Cue fire emojis.
Headgear and Accessories
Although the mix of sportswear and high tailoring that got everyone so excited a couple of seasons back hasn’t entirely gone away, it seemed a lot less prominent this time around. Or perhaps in the meantime I’ve just got so used to the look that it doesn’t register to the same degree any more?
What’s certain, though, is that neither berets nor beanies have waned in popularity since AW19, so if that’s your thing you’re still perfectly safe with your choice of appendage. However, now that the dust has settled on last winter’s trend for dayglo accessories, it’s clearly jailbird orange that emerges as the longterm winner.
For a number of years now there’s been a couple quietly doing their bit to promote cowboy hats at Pitti, incorporating this bit of Western headgear into all their looks. Interestingly, though, this season saw a whole posse of stetson-wearing hombres descend upon Pitti. Reinforcements, or rivals? Either way, the cowboy hat has now fully arrived; for a fully contemporary twist, pair it incongruously with ‘80s sportswear.
Finally, in keeping with both streetwear and runway looks elsewhere, big text-knit scarves were also strongly in evidence. And at the more formal end of the neckwear spectrum, bold-striped regimental neckties were conspicuous in their number.
Good news for penny loafer fans; nothing could be more on-trend right now. Bad news for anyone who survived the eighties; once again they are mostly black and worn with white socks. The horror!
As the general tendency for looser and more relaxed tailoring makes itself felt even in the spiritual home of the sharp-cut suit, at Pitti 97 trousers were a-flapping, and hemlines a-flopping. And if ’90s “street-sweeper” pant silhouettes are back, this can only mean that it’s officially time to repurpose your skinny jeans for storing golf clubs.
The more complicated the pattern and the greater the number of colors involved, the more on-trend the sweater. Pitti 97 was also notable for the number of people wearing exceptionally low-cut v-necks, often in a nasty ’70s-style knit. A look that’s actually a lot better than it sounds.
In the Stands
Once again, Pitti’s marketing machine made a big fuss about the fashion industry’s new-found enthusiasm for sustainability. Evidently quite successfully too, as several news outlets took up this cry in their coverage of the event. A shame, then, that it all turned out to be so much hot air.
To be fair, this time around there was a notable increase in the number of brands pushing some element of sustainability in their collections. As with previous seasons though, the reality was a lot less impressive than the hype suggested. Indeed, on investigation even the few stands touting their products to the fanfare of “sustainable brand” or “the art of sustainability” fell far short of their claims; with perhaps one element of one portion of the brand’s collection actually incorporating more ethical or eco-conscious production techniques.
Better than nothing, admittedly. But proclaiming your company “sustainable” merely because a few items on the line-sheets include recycled cashmere will not save our planet from impending eco-oblivion. Especially if the rest of the production cycle remains as environmentally damaging as ever.
As with the previous season, alongside the Scandinavian showcase there was also an area dedicated to Chinese brands. While none stood out as especially worthy of attention, the overall quality was notably higher than even six months ago. Which makes me think that it’s only a short time before China becomes a force to reckon with within the fashion arena.
As ever, it was good to see that the majority of the brands we’ve reviewed in the past were present again at Pitti 97 – and often demonstrating a real evolution both in terms of quality and style. Indeed, most of the clothing companies showing at Pitti are there year in, year out; with only a handful of new faces appearing each season.
Of course, statistically this means that there’s an ever decreasing likelihood that we’ll make outstanding new discoveries at Pitti. Nonetheless, sometimes there are brands that have shown before who we simply overlooked first time round due to the sheer number of exhibitors. Other times, a brand improves dramatically from one season to the next. And then there’s the small crop of new entries. As it turn out, in this review we feature one from each of these three categories.
I’d seen the Raglan United name before, yet somehow overlooked their products on past trips to Pitti. I’m just glad I found them this time, as it would have been a real shame to miss out on the excellent line in outerwear they offer for F/W 2020.
For Raglan United, Pitti is a home-game; the brand is based in Florence, and produces everything – including the fabrics – locally. For anyone discouraged by recent minor scandals sullying the Made in Italy tag, RU’s products should be more than enough to put your mind at rest. In fact the quality and craftsmanship are superb.
The brand brought hard-edged utilitarian design to Pitti 97; technical-looking parkas that brought to mind compatriots CP Company and Stone Island, but that instead came in coated cotton fabrics more reminiscent of Barbour’s waxed country attire. Alongside these items were a number of fine garments combining classical tailoring with more contemporary quirks. Once again, all cut in cloth of an exceptional hand. Expect to see a lot more from Raglan United in coming seasons.
Sticking with utilitarianism, Osaka-based Amiacalva was something of a revelation to me. Not that they offer anything radically new, but purely because I hadn’t previously come across the brand’s beautifully simple bags before.
In any case, innovation is not Amiacalva’s raison d’etre. Rather, designer Kazunori Kato takes the humble stance that a cultural object which has evolved over centuries – its design gradually refined by the hands of each consecutive generation – is a far more perfect item than anything any individual could come up with overnight. The role of a designer, then, is merely to channel the results of this collective R&D into the superlative version.
That being the case, don’t expect to find any new forms among Amiacalva’s offerings. Instead you get the ultimate tote, the ideal wallet, and the backpack supreme. All free of unnecessary fuss or trashy branding, and made in Osaka with fabrics especially developed for Amiacalva in Japan’s famous Shiga textile region.
Despite this admirable Made-in-Japan pedigree, though, the brand’s products are available stateside and actually quite attainably priced.
In a world where every brand’s “origin story” needs to be reduced to ‘grammable simplicity, the marketing team at D-Vec face something of a challenge.
D-Vec’s parent company, Globeride, makes sportswear. Not of the “couture” variety, but, you know, clothes for doing actual sports in. Decidedly genteel pursuits such as cycling, tennis, and golf. Oh, and they manufacture fishing tackle, too. All this took a little time to digest as I examined the razor-sharp fashion offerings on show in the brand’s Pitti booth.
True, this was not the first time that D-Vec had shown at Pitti. And if I’d previously overlooked the label, it’s likely because this detour into futuristic sartorialism is a rather recent development. Indeed, checking out the AW19 collection online, there are a few nice pieces, but on the whole the wares are quite pedestrian.
What caught my eye at Pitti 97, though, was on an entirely other level: minimalist tailoring, with super clean lines; and using beautiful fabrics that combine the qualities of refined luxury and high performance in a similar way to the Loro Piana brothers’ SEASE project. Keep your eyes open for the FW20 collection.