Pitti Uomo is more than you can possibly grasp from looking at pictures online. Sure, it’s a peacock parade, and this receives an disproportionally large amount of the media attention that surronuds the fair. But then again, this is where you’re likely to meet anyone who’s anyone in the menswear business. As I look forward to returning for the 7th time, Pitti has begun to feel like a reunion of sorts. I’ve met a lot of people at the show who I now consider friends, although they are of course too numerous to name in this text without resorting to tedious name dropping. I think pictures speak louder than words in this instance.
… and that’s about a third of the people I’m looking forward to seeing again.
Although the crowds milling about inside the Fortezza da Basso are the butt of many jokes, being outside the fair gives you a chance to see some of the clothes that are on display inside the pavilions being worn by actual people. It’s also the place where some of the brands and makers who can’t afford a booth at the fair have a chance to showcase their clothing, shoes, and accessories by wearing them. I’ve met some of the finest craftsmen within their trade on the square outside of the main pavilion. So no, it’s not attended only by men and women who have found fame by dressing for an Instagram or tumblr audience – not that there is anything wrong with that, in my opinion.
There are a lot of people (I think around 50,000 attended the last time around), both outside and inside the pavilions. Some are there to get a chance to get a first glimpse of new collections, to see and perhaps buy some of the finest menswear in the world, and some are there to mainly to mingle. It’s a place where you can fully engage in menswear nerdery for several days in a row, either by talking about it in detail with other guys, or by studying the actual products. From what I’ve gathered from friends who are exhibiting at Pitti, the time is equally focused on making contacts for future sales, as it is on making sales during the days of exhibition.
Meeting people doesn’t stop when the fair closes down for the day. A lot of magazines, websites and brands host nighttime events. Some of the events that we never miss are Plaza Uomo’s (Swedish menswear magazine), Ign Joseph’s (shirt & accessories maker), Simon Crompton’s Symposium (this year luckily cohosted with Plaza Uomo) and a few others. I also try and squeeze in as many dinners as possible, because…you know, Italy. If you haven’t run into anyone by the time events and dinners end, you’ll have a 99% chance of meeting them at Caffe Gilli, in the historic center of Florence. I’m no big fan of Gilli’s overpriced drinks, rude staff, and cramped space, but I’ll probably find myself there at least 3 out of the 4 nights I’m in Florence.
While at the fair I generally don’t look at all the biggest or most well-known exhibitors. I can see their wares displayed in shop windows back home, and on every #menswear tumblr and Instagram account. For me, it’s more fun to venture into the exhibitors’ halls without too much of a schedule. I’m not there to buy (mainly), I’m there for inspiration, and to write about this for you guys.
Of course, makers such as Drake’s and Ring Jacket and other equally famous#menswear brands are super inspiring, and I will definitely look up their new collections, but for me it’s usually most rewarding to head into the makers section of Pitti. I always come back to this in all my trade show write-ups, but it’s where you’ll find the most new and small brands at Pitti. The ones who try out new and weird ideas, for better or for worse. It is never boring, though.
I also like to see new and inventive ideas mixed with traditional designs. A lot of the makers I often find myself talking to for the longest time are Japanese. Like Hybrid Sensor, for example, who integrate new, man-made high-functionality fibers into traditional tailoring. Of course, this is off-putting for a lot of traditionalists, but personally I’m quite interested in technical advancements in the making of classic clothing.
Other interesting exhibitors for me are:
Camoshita United Arrows – beautiful mix of Japanese austerity and Italian flair & tailoring.
Hestra – Swedish glove makers who offer bespoke gloves in all the most beautiful materials you can imagine.
Inis Meain – original knitwear from the island of Inis Meáin, off the coast of Ireland. Sounds romantic right? Their knitwear definitely reflects it.
La Portegna – Spanish leather artists, making some of the most beautiful leather goods around.
Le Loir En Papillon – the man behind the name, Mickael, has built his own little world consisting of beautiful and original accessories. All truly personal and quite tasteful.
Levi’s Made & Crafted – in my opinion, one of Levi’s most interesting collections at the moment.
Loic et Gil – yet another highly unique and interesting accessory maker.
Norwegian Rain – combining high tech materials with natural fibers, in both fashion forward and more traditional designs. Very Scandinavian friendly in downplayed colour schemes and clean designs.
Sastreria 91 – this is a family owned tailor and haberdashery store from Spain, owned by my dear friends Paul and Kat. They offer some truly original tailoring and accessories, all very true to their Spanish heritage.
Sciamat – the Ricci brothers have really made an impact with their very recognizable house style. It’s a bit daring, but I find it quite inspiring.
TBD Eyewear – a company making handmade glasses, started by the always delightful Fabio Attanasio. They have made quite an impact in a short time. Not only because of Fabio’s #menswear fame, but also very much due to the clean and classic designs.
Viberg – classic workwear boots and casual shoes. What’s not to like?
All in all, I’m looking forward to a week without much sleep, but hopefully a week that leaves me with new inspiration, ideas and friends.
This year my fiancée can’t come along because of work, but I will try to do some coverage of the fair anyway, with @Anden doing some photography.
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