Pitti Uomo 94 Streetstyle – DAY 2

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Floral patterns and aloha shirts are a big hit this season.

Pitti Uomo Streetstyle 94 – DAY 2

Here are some Pitti Uomo streetstyle pictures of the best outfits spotted outside of the Fortezza da Basso – as well as at some cool events hosted by brands and makers in Florence.

To comment the outfits, head over to the Pitti Uomo 94 thread on Styleforum.

If you’re in Florence, take a look at our guide to menswear shopping in town here.

All photos by @sebastianmcfox

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Cobbler Union’s Euro Trip

Part of Styleforum’s mission is to introduce our community to the “behind the scenes” of a brand, and connect makers with like-minded connoisseurs that appreciate their works.

Cobbler Union, based in Atlanta, is a men’s shoemaker that manufacturers high-quality Goodyear welted shoes in Spain; they produce shoes directly with artisans, creating products that capture their own ethos that are not rebranded makers.

Here’s Daniel Porcelli’s travel journal during his latest trip to Europe, where he visited Cobbler Union’s workshop and sourced the leather for Cobbler Union’s upcoming models.

Much more than a great craft

As I flew over the Italian Alps and prepared for landing at Malpensa Airport in Milan, I was quickly reminded of why I love and respect our craft so much. I started Cobbler Union partly to preserve and respect the artisanship of shoemaking. But, the more time I spend in the industry, the more I realize that what we’re doing is much bigger than that. Cobbler Union is a vehicle that promotes a respect for workmanship and quality, a more beautiful way of life, one which positively affects our extraordinary craft. I consider myself a fortunate man for having the opportunity to do so.

While at the airport, my first cappuccino of the trip reminds me that I have just entered a different world, one full of exquisite aromas, beautiful architecture, elegant men and women, a world that inspires. It reminds me that through the appreciation of life around us that beautiful products can be created.

As I started my eleven-day grand tour in Europe, I was certain of one thing: the cappuccino always comes before the shoes, not the other way around.

  

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The artisans: the heroes in our industry

For me, it is always an honor to visit our artisans in Spain. Their dedication to the shoemaking craft is extraordinary. Put into context, a pair of our Goodyear-welted shoes has more than two hundred processes and tasks executed by twenty-five experienced artisans. These men and women labor on their feet for many hours a day. The art of making a shoe requires sweat and mental dedication as each step in production requires focus and attention to detail.

Today, there are few shoemaking clusters left in Europe. The majority of Goodyear-welted shoes are produced in a handful of towns spread across Spain, England, and, to a lesser extent, Italy. Other countries like Portugal, Hungary, or Romania all make beautiful shoes but, in general, with different methods. The growing scarcity of artisans and the increasing fragility of the industry is why we’ve made it our mission at Cobbler Union to do everything we can to promote our craft as much as we can.

I firmly believe that the more a man appreciates the labor of love behind his shoes, the more he will cherish and enjoy them.

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A great product is the best offense

Most of my trip to Spain was devoted to quality refinement and product development. Cobbler Union’s aim is to produce shoes that compare to legendary brands that oftentimes have a 100-year head start on us. This means we have to be agile, to work resolutely and aim high before we can be recognized among the best classic shoemakers in the world.

On this trip, we started a two-year initiative to implement forty quality improvements spanning product design, fit & comfort, construction, and quality. The goal of this project is for our products to become a benchmark against which new entrants and legacy brands alike are measured.

In addition, I have begun the development process for over twenty-five new models. Many of these will be made on two new lasts that we’ll begin testing in the coming weeks.

There are few things more rewarding than bringing a new product to market.

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 In search of the best leather

While concluding my European tour, I was fortunate enough to attend Lineapelle in Milan. This is our industry’s major trade show where the world’s finest tanneries present their collections. I love attending the event to strengthen relationships with the creators of our industry’s main component. By far, this is my favorite event of the year. Many of these tanneries have been in business for generations and their proprietors are legends in the leather-goods industries.

This year, I found inspiration in the colors and textures of the hides, learning something new with each conversation.

As a maker, we use top grade calfskin, which is one of the ways we set ourselves apart from other shoemakers. All in all, we found some exquisite hides and new interesting colors which will be adding to our collection in the coming months.

Leaving this fantastic trade show was the toughest part of my trip!

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You can connect with Cobbler Union on the Official Affiliate Thread on Styleforum.

Peter’s Adventures in Pittiland – Part II

After meeting with 100 Hands, Fok and I made our way back to the Maker Space.  By then the show was over and Aperitivo Hour was in full effect.  After catching up with my good friend and tailor Salvo, I met the other artisans that shared SytleForum’s exhibition. Red and white wine, olives, prosciutto, and mozzarella were being passed around while conversations of the day’s effects were being discussed, and I could finally relax after my 30 hour travel ordeal.  Enjoyable as it was, though, I couldn’t wait to sleep in a proper bed.

“Wait till you see your apartment,” teased Arianna. “You have the best view of Florence.”

She wasn’t exaggerating.  The apartment that Salvo and I shared a panorama of the Arno and Ponte Vecchio, one of the most charming hallmarks of the city.  I could have soaked in the view for hours, but it was already past midnight, and exhaustion got the better of me.  I crashed on the bed in my clothes and fell asleep.

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The next day, well…let’s not dwell on the fact that I left my phone in the cab on the way to Pitti and forgot to finalize my press pass for the show…yeah, that’s a bit embarrassing.  Let’s skip to the show.  I was told the show is big, but when people say Pitti is “big”, they’re downplaying it.  It’s huge.  The show lasts four days because there’s so much to see – 60,000 square meters and 1230 exhibitors. Here are some highlights:

Monitaly

Not classic menswear, but casual clothes for CM guys that are looking for something interesting and unique.  Runs the gamut from trousers acceptable for date night to furry leopard print boots. Yup.

Knit Brary

If you like sweaters, you’ll fall in love with this brand. Based out of Spain, this company produces handmade sweaters with tons of visual interest and texture. One of the cardigans on display used yarns thicker than a pencil. Most are made with baby alpaca, so while not cheap, it’s the kind of cozy softness you can wear all day long, if your partner’s not borrowing it.  Check out their video here.

Carmina

Apparently Tebas, the father of the company, won’t stop making new lasts in his workshop. The latest, named after him, is a wider-than-Forest casual last that can be dressed up but is best represented on a chunky brogue boot. Other new lasts include the dressier Queen’s and Broadway.

La Portegna

When I vacationed in Sicily earlier this year, I scoured the internet for a good pair of espadrilles.  Most are flimsy things that only last as long as your vacation does before they fall apart. If only I had known of La Portegna. Although they do make other types of shoes, their espadrilles are the only ones I know of that have a leather sole, so you can keep wearing them long after you get back from your holiday.

Invertere

Like fellow British coatmakers Mackintosh, the popularity of Intervère began to wane in the late 20th century, but owner Graham Shaw was proudly showing the current line of coats at Pitti, and I’m glad. The company began over 100 years ago as the originators of the reversible gabardine/tweed coat. Mr. Shaw explains this was the reason for the name “Invertere” – a Latin word that can mean “inside out”.  The practical coats are as attractive now  as they ever have been, and if I could chose another travel coat, it’s going to be an Intervère. No US stockists exist now, but hopefully that will change.

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After hours of circling the grounds, ogling the products, and snapping pictures, we headed back across Ponte Vecchio to the StyleForum Maker Space, where Salvo had two jackets and one suit ready for the my fitting. Soon afterward, the guys from Nine Lives Brand (amazing yak jackets) Red Rabbit Trading Co (handmade pre-1920’s southwestern silver jewelry) and Jailbird Leather (belts made by salaried inmates) stopped by to hang and get fitted by Salvo. Because suits and streetwear can be friends. All three companies had a booth at Pitti, and make goods that be dressed both up and down.

Friday came all too quickly. I didn’t see all of the exhibitors, I didn’t see all my friends, I arrived late and was leaving early.  Suffice it to say, I didn’t really plan this well.  After packing my bags and my camera (thanks Leica) I wistfully said goodbye to our underutilized apartment on the Arno.

But that wasn’t the end of Pitti for me.  On my way to the train station I bumped into StyleForum user Steffen Ingwersen AKA @vecchioanseatico, whom I’ve met before, and his friend Mikolaj. After standing on the street chatting for a while, we decided to have lunch before leaving Florence. I got a chance to see some unique accessories Steffen is working on: a striped wool tie made of Fox flannel and pocket squares with prints of his own design. But what struck me most were the yellow carpincho gloves. Unlined and butter soft, I couldn’t resist, and bought a pair as a physical memento of my time at Pitti 93.

It’s always fun meeting StyleForum users, especially by accident; you never know what to expect from their online persona. Usually, though, they end up being regular guys who happen to be into clothes. This happened later on at the train station, when I thought I recognized another StyleForum user.  When I asked, he flashed a sly grin and replied, “I’m the notorious Alan Bee.”

Turns out Okey Onyehbule AKA @Alan Bee is a quite an amicable gent. As a guy with the Herculean build of a Mack Truck, he’s always had difficulty finding suits that fit him off-the-rack.  Now that he has been having success going to Naples for bespoke, he is keen to share his results so that those with similar fit issues can see how to dress.

“I don’t pretend to know everything,” he laughs, “but I do like to share what I’ve learned, which is why I’ve posted some videos.  When other users give me feedback, I take it in stride and try to learn from it.  I’m passionate about it, but I don’t take myself too seriously.  Bespoke is really just an indulgent hobby.”

It’s now my last day in Italy. In a few hours I’ll be picking up my commissions from Salvo, hopping on a plane, and going back to work in construction.  I’ve heard Pitti described as a kind of menswear Mecca for fame seekers or a necessary evil for those in the industry, and while there may be truth in both of those viewpoints, I think there might be another sentiment, one neither romantic nor cynical.

To be sure, those whose livelihood requires Pitti cannot but recognize its importance for business: product is bought, connections are made, bonds are forged, the machine is oiled, and business is set for another six months.  For those of us not in the industry, it’s a different story. We’re basically menswear fans, and Pitti is the draft. Everyone dresses up, shoppers look for products and products look for buyers. It’s exciting, sure; we might have fairly strong opinions about a particular player (cough, Kapernick).  After the draft, the season begins and we watch the players perform on the field.

At the end of the day, though, it’s only a game. Taking a pastime to its logical end doesn’t mean devoting one’s life to it, but the change from fan to fanatic happens pretty often. The common rationale is that if one enjoys something, more of that something translates into more happiness.  Kids do this all the time; ask a child what he wants to eat and he’ll choose pizza and ice cream.

I’ll admit, Pitti is a blast, and I’m excited to watch the rest of the season to see how the clothes play out in real life.  But the end of the day, though, it’s only clothes. I’m actually looking forward to just being home.

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A Perspective on the Styleforum Maker Space

Since the middle of December, I’ve been in Italy visiting the in-laws. We made a few little trips here and there for purposes of tourism, did a short tour of Emilia Romagna, enjoyed many delicious meals, and–of course–did some shopping during the Italian seasonal sales period. Additionally, we visited Florence as well, partly because it is a city filled with art, but also because my wife was working there during Pitti Uomo. During Pitti, I managed to make it into the Fortezza briefly, but I spent most of my time helping out with the Styleforum Maker Space. And I have to say it was a blast to hang out with so many charming people-while having bountiful aperitivi with decent wine, tasty mozzarella di bufala from Caserta, and salumi from the Tuscan countryside. The conversations ranged from materials and construction methods, to typical wines and dishes, to customer service and business practices.

Unfortunately Winson shoes couldn’t attend because of visa issues, but the other artisans more than made the experience great. At the Styleforum Maker Space there were Salvatore from I Sarti Italiani, Marco from Belisario Camicie, Alya from a.b.k. leather goods, and Frank and Jen from GIIN. Everyone was quite friendly, knowledgeable about their respective crafts, and their products were all impressive. If you had visited, you would have found yourself talking to individuals who genuinely find joy in their professions and care deeply about their crafts. From each one, you would have learned little secrets, such as the differences between types of mother of pearl buttons and shells, or which sections of a shirt or jacket require hand stitching and which can be machine stitched.

Over three days, talking with Frank and Jen from GIIN provided me with inspiration their passion and enthusiasm for their product, brand and work is enthralling. Frank is turning under garments on their head, making bonded products with a mix of long fiber cotton and polyester, blending the two together to create a fabric that exhibits the best of both worlds. He provided me with some to try, and I have to say that I am convinced (look forward to a review in the near future). On the other hand, the boutonnieres, the mainstay of their exhibition, were exquisite as always. Their display showed the materials at different steps, and they spoke with great respect about the Japanese artisan who created the process. These flowers were a hit with the Italians, who were shocked to see delicate flowers that were outside of the normal flow of time.

The leather goods from a.b.k. were impressive, especially for those who have a more street wear or rustic aesthetic. I talked with Alya about saddle stitching and vegetable tanned leathers as she sat in the corner hand stitching a pair of shoes that were being custom made for a foreign client. Her leather goods exuded a sort of aesthetic that embodied her personality itself, a reserved but passionate spirit that cares about the quality of the goods and the materials. She told me a wonderful story about the leathers that she works with, most of which come from a small tannery in the south of France that is run by two elderly gentlemen, who have been processing hides for many years in natural and historical methods. Her work combines this historical artisanship for materials with handcrafted methods to craft pieces that would last for a long time, growing more beautiful as they develop patinas through use.

I had used Belisario Camicie in the past to order online some shirts, and they came out well, so I decided to talk with Marco Belisario about modifying my shirts to the exact way that I wanted them. I ended up ordering a shirt with all my vezzi preferiti, including manica mappina and hand sewn buttons a giglio. I was amused that I had recently seen a friend of mine order a su misura shirt from another well-established shirt maker in Italy, only to have a fraction of the options and measurements taken in contrast to Belisario. Marco took a large number of measurements and some photos to create a paper pattern to compensate for my uneven shoulders and sleeve lengths, as well as for my watch on my wrist. He even consulted with the tailor from I Sarti Italiani to best determine how to address my bodies particularities. We discussed the size of armholes, and settled on a slimmer, high armhole as per my preferences. In addition, Marco allows you to choose which handsewn properties you want on the shirt, so I settled for what I most wanted aesthetically. They have a wide selection of different choices for collars (including one of the best one piece, open collars I’ve ever seen–they call it Ischia), buttons, and offer both fused and unfused cuffs and collars.

Last-but not least-was Salvatore Ioco, a 29 year old tailor who has been a tailor for 15 years of his life, learning the tradition from his grandparents. Salvo, the representative of I Sarti Italiani, is incredibly friendly and jovial guy. Based in Palermo, the smaller company is a consortium of 12 tailors and 3 cutters, all of whom work together to realize the garments in the style that the client desires. They produce mostly canvassed garments, but will do minimal canvassing (no fusing) if you desire in order to get an even lighter, more relaxed and casual garment. Salvo brought a wide range of fabrics in his books, showing off both more luxurious fabrics as well as base ones, and we talked about my preferences. I will have him make me a garment, but I’ve yet to decide on a fabric; in the end he took my measurements, talked about my physical abnormalities and my stylistic preferences. I’ll figure out whether I want to do something from him that is Cut-Make-Trim, or rather a suit manufactured in house with him and the other tailors using fabrics to which they have access. Of course, I’ll have to return to Italy for a few basted fittings, once we figure out what direction I want to go.

In the course of the three days, the various artisans had conversations among themselves, creating new dialogues; it comes as no surprise then that all the artisans shared a sort of mentality concerned with making durable goods. Even though reasons for making quality goods might have diverged slightly, they all overlapped in their pursuit of quality. GIIN seeks to preserve our resources by discouraging waste or using natural processes. Alya and a.b.k. is focused with maintaining a low environmental impact through sourcing environmental sound leathers (vegetable tanned), while also creating products that were useful. Belisario and I Sarti Italiani handcraft their clothing with rigor, in hopes of creating pieces that remain in your wardrobe for an extended time. This thoughtful mentality reminds us why craftsmanship and passion is still important today in a world overwhelmed with wasteful consumption.

Here you can see some pictures of the Styleforum Maker Space:

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Peter’s adventures in Pittiland – Part I

Day Two, because my trip didn’t start out that well.

Of course I expected that everything would proceed swimmingly. I arrived at SFO well ahead of time, check-in was a breeze, and boarding went without a hitch. But then we waited. And waited…and after waiting on the runway in the plane for an hour, I asked the flight attendant what my options would be if I missed my connecting flight in Heathrow.

Now I’d like you to imagine a condescending, over-her-prime, bad highlights and fake-smiling smarmy woman hiss back to you:

“Well if we leave now, you won’t miss your flight, will you?” Her inane question was meant to end the conversation, and her Mary Poppins tone was meant to put me back in my seat rather than assuage my concerns. And yet I countered.

“Are you saying we will leave now?”

“Well let’s just wait and see what the Captain says, OK?” It was clear she was both unable to and disinterested in helping me, and so with no alternative open, I returned to my seat and obediently waited.  The captain announced the luggage placement left the plane imbalanced, so they would shuffle it around, redistribute the fuel, and we’d be off in no time….

Finally, three hours after the scheduled departure, our plane left San Francisco. When Mary Poppins made eye contact with me, she blurted, “Yeah, you’re going to miss your flight, but they’ll sort it all out for you when you get there. Right, would you like some orange juice?”

14 Hours later we landed. Then waited an hour in a queue to get set up in a hotel, another hour in a queue for passport check, and another hour to get shuttled to said hotel, where we were graciously comped dinner in the hotel’s buffet that offered gooey fish pie and wilted salad. Four hours later, I woke up to catch the shuttle to our rerouted flight, but not before grabbing the comped breakfast, which included a cardboard granola bar and cheese puffs. A day and a half late, I arrived in Milan.

As an aside: if you’ve never been to Milan Central train station, you’re in for a treat.  Not the busiest in terms of numbers, but arguably the most majestic. When arriving and disembarking, you can’t help but notice the steel and glass canopy as you turn around – the largest of its kind in Italy, enough for 18 tracks, and hundreds of feet long. Wander around, and you’ll find yourself awestruck at the massively high ceilings, capacious galleries, overbearing statues, and Nouveau-Roman architecture. Impressive, to say the least. So I had to take a picture. Guess who photobombed?

Patrik started lurking in forum in the early 2000s after searching online for – you guessed it – shoes. Nowadays @Leaves is a forum regular, putting together MTO’s from international shoe makers and answering obscure questions from like-minded enthusiasts on the thread for his shop, Skoaktiebolaget. Don’t ask how to pronounce it.

Finally I arrive at the StyleForum Maker Space at 3:30pm on day 2. Even before I enter the door, Fok grabs me. I protest that I have to pee.

“We gotta get to our 100 Hands appointment. Pee, then meet me outside.”

The appointment was supposed to last an hour, but one hour turned to two, then three, before making our way back to the Maker’s Space where Arianna was holding the fort.

Click here to read Part II.

Pitti Uomo 93 – Day 3 & 4

It seemed like Peter Zottolo (@urbancomposition) would have never reached Mediterranean soil, after being stuck in America (first) and the Old Blighty (then) due to inclement weather and air traffic conditions; however, in the end, our hero did arrive in the Promised Land aka the Fortezza da Basso, and these are his first shots from the opulent carnival known as Pitti Uomo.

Enjoy!

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Styleforum Maker Space – I Sarti Italiani

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While Neapolitan, Milanese, and even Roman tailors are world-famous and respected, we can’t possibly ignore the fact that tailoring schools flourish all over Italy – even on the southern island of Sicily.

I Sarti Italiani has been making bespoke suits, trousers, and shirts since 1986; they focus on precise, careful stitching, and they only use the best quality materials for their suits. The lining is always cupro bemberg, the buttons are either corozo, horn or mother of pearl, and the canvas is in camel hair or horse hair.

The selection of fabrics is on point: Ermenegildo Zegna, Loro Piana, Cerruti 1881, Draper’s, Vitale Barberis Canonico, Bottoli, Larusmiani, and Scabal are only few of the names you’ll find in I Sarti Italiani’s fabric book.

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Sicilian tailoring features the same, relaxed characteristic of Neapolitan tailoring, without the flairs typical of the Partenopean tradition. I Sarti Italiani offers bespoke solutions and blends Italian craftsmanship with unique Southern taste. Our very own Peter Zottolo has recently written an article about his recent experience with I Sarti Italiani in occasion of a recent trip to Italy.

You can find I Sarti Italiani in Sicily at these locations – but they also do a home or office bespoke service for those who are too busy to stop by the showroom:

Sartoria Montelepre (PA) C/da Vallotta s/nc 

Show-room Marsala (TP) Via Mario Nuccio n°10-12 

Show-room Palermo Via Isidoro la Lumia 27/A 

Official Website


At The Maker Space, you’ll be able to chat with the tailors and get measured for your Sicilian bespoke suit. Click here to read more about the event and RSVP.

Styleforum Maker Space – a.b.k. Leather Products

This January, at Pitti Uomo 93 in Florence, Italy, Styleforum will be hosting its inaugural Maker Space. The Styleforum Maker Space is an open space designed to exhibit the work of small brands and artisans interested in showing to both wholesale buyers and retail consumers. Click on the banner to visit the official page of the event and RSVP as a visitor.


Alya began her career by taking classes in shoemaking, eventually finding a mentor in iconic sandal designer, Barbara Shaum.

Inspired by her experience, Alya began making shoes on her own, recruiting occasional help from her sister Katya and teaching her the craft along the way. Word began to spread, orders for shoes began to increase, and the business was born.

Their work has become known for impeccable craftsmanship, ex­panding well beyond shoes to leather items of all kinds, from the functional to the purely beautiful. Each piece starts with leather that is domestically sourced and tanned without chemicals.

Katya and Alya hand-dye their own leather to achieve the exact color palette desired, then use alcohol water to saturate and stretch it before hand-stitching or stapling the pieces into place to dry.

At the Styleforum Maker Space, you’ll be able to chat with Alya and see her at work. Click here to RSVP, and visit the Styleforum Maker Space Official Thread on the forum.

The 2017 Styleforum Charity Auctions Are Here!

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We are very proud to present this year’s edition of the Styleforum Charity Auctions, this year in support of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Spokane.

Of all the many traditions we all have, this is the one of which I am most proud. We are holding auctions of items donated by retailers and designers, and 100% of the proceeds to go to the Ronald McDonald House, which helps to house and feed the families of children who must travel for medical treatment. During the holiday season, illness and being away from the comfort of home is especially stressful, and I love that we can help, in a small way, to alleviate some of this stress.

This is our 15 Year Anniversary, and we’d like add to the over $60K donated to charity since the auctions started four years ago! Please subscribe to the thread to keep updated on the daily, 24-hour auctions, and please bid often and generously.

  • Each auction will take 24 hours, starting as close to 10 a.m. PST as I am able to make it, and ending the same time the next day, or 10 minutes after the final bid, whichever comes later.
  • All auctions will start at 50% of the retail price.

If you are a vendor and would like to donate an item for the charity, please email us at styleforum.net@gmail.com

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