The Pitti crowd is different from the Paris crowd. A little less self conscious. Willing to try harder. Not so focused on appearing as though they don’t care. Italian style, despite what online haters may scream at you, is neither uniform nor uniformly ornate. I’ve said it in the past, but it bears repeating: the people in wild suits and fur capes don’t demonstrate Italian style, they demonstrate Pitti style.
I still find them rather sad. There is a sense of desperation about the way they move. Arianna tells me that when she passes through a crowd with her camera, twenty heads shift, trying to see if they’re being photographed without looking as though they care. I understand that some of them are here to promote something other than themselves, and that beneath the plumage they are people, but I can’t help but dislike the act.
On the other hand, I can say that I firmly believe that Italian men aged 42 – 60 (approximately) may be the best-dressed men in the world – in a Western sense, of course. They are truly effortless, though – the elderly gentlemen I have seen bicycling their groceries through the streets this week give our most-loved forum members a run for their money. Effortless doesn’t begin to cover it.
The fair is busier today, but it still doesn’t feel as packed as I remember. I’ve heard third-hand whispers that I can’t corroborate that some of larger makers are leaving Pitti, because it doesn’t bring sales the way it once did. People still come to buy, of course – it’s a trade show, after all – but more than ever, it’s an opportunity for exposure. A chance to shake hands. Remember names. However, booth prices remain high, and travel prices are not getting cheaper. Some buyers are choosing to come to the Italian brands and showrooms once the fair is over, to avoid the crush as well as the travel fares. Pitti has always been early, early, early in the season, and I wonder if it’s sustainable.
From my end, the fashion fatigue is palpable. Part of me wonders if the idea of trend-chasing is itself a trend, just as everything is a trend. And in part, that fatigue is what retailers such as those who were present at this week’s symposium are fighting against – how to avoid overwhelming their clients with the constant pressure to buy, and how to stay afloat when they’re telling clients to “keep.” It’s a tough line to walk, and it’s interesting to hear the varied opinions on what will come next. No one that I have spoken to expects the “menswear bubble” to last, but part of the reason Italy has remained a stalwart of both design and manufacturing is that it is slow to change. Perhaps Pitti will shrink in the years to come, but tailoring will certainly live on.
Of course, this fair is not a great demonstration of that feeling – there are still plenty of people doggedly following every trend – colored fur, cropped fringe jeans and mules on the women, still too-short too-tight suits on the men. Still plenty of household brands with giant pavilions full of garbage. And, as usual, the “Urban Panorama” sections are full of crap. Golden goose knockoffs, Yeezy-season knockoffs, and sparkly down coats. One company sells jeans with handcuffs through the belt loops. Maybe handcuffs are the next big trend. Yesterday, at Stefano Ricci, I met a man who told me that his guilty pleasure was kitschy Versace clothing, and that he was was once stopped at security for bringing through a Versace blazer that had razor blades sewed along the lapel.
Everything inside the “unconventional” pavilion feels so tired. Do you remember “street goth?” That’s what this pavilion is devoted to, and even after a year and a half it seems dead. Hell, it seemed dead after six months. But they must have buyers, must have a devoted legion of micro-trend followers, because here they are at Pitti. I don’t find it unconventional at all, but Arianna disagrees. I suppose that’s the beauty of fashion in the age of the internet – we can, without a doubt, coexist with any number of counterparts.
Have I mentioned that there’s a FILA booth? We have no plans to enter it, sadly. Yesterday, some guy was rapping from inside, with an audience that seemed more focused on getting their free drinks and leaving than with seeing whatever’s inside. Today, some people are dancing to a “Gettin’ jiggy with it” remix of some sort.They’re trying so hard to recapture their former 90s glory that it’s not surprising that most people are walking past making bemused faces at the logo-bedecked dancers. I’ve mentioned the resurgence of the logo a few times, but I wonder if it, too, has bloomed and died in the span of twelve months.
There are still plenty of people standing in the plaza hoping to get pictures taken of themselves, blogging madly and hoping to be blogged.I think I’m the most bloggable I’ve ever been today, wearing the cloak of birds that my mother made me. I claim immunity from the scene, so I wonder if I really count as one of them – even if an older Italian man made some kind of bird- or dog-clicking sounds at me as I walked to the Fortezza this morning.
The rest of the day is a staid affair – we look at brands, we talk to people, we take pictures. Arianna makes fun of how long I spend talking to the people at Snow Peak, but I can’t help myself because it’s awesome. Later, in the central pavilion, I see a kind of nerdy looking white guy wearing head-to-toe Kanye West clothing and he looks….kind of depressed. Like he’s wearing thousands of dollars worth of clothing and doesn’t know why he’s bothering if no one is going to congratulate him for it.
There are high points, of course:
- Merola is showing gloves with a tie silk lining, as well as a touchscreen-friendly range, both of which are quite nice.
- Fioroni cashmere is showing a new line of cashmere dyed solely with natural dyes – such as olive and madder.
- 1st pat-rn will appeal to all fans of Engineerd Garments and the modern workwear movement.
- There really are a lot of well-dressed men here. Every time I point one out, Arianna dismissively says “oh, they just look Italian. Everyone dresses like that here.” She’s from Italy, so I guess I can’t argue – but I’m still impressed.
I have to say that the positives far outweigh the negatives at this show. We’ve spoken to so many people who are passionate about what they do, whether or not you enjoy the results. In a way it doesn’t matter, because as much as we’re in the market for clothes, we’re in the market for stories – without which, as Arianna sagely tells me, clothes are just objects.
We eat a simple dinner and turn in early, despite the face the waiter makes when we tell him we’re only having one course. My past – pici with a mildly spicy tomato sauce – is delicious. I had forgotten how much I love the pasta here.
Thankfully, I have two days to eat more.