Introducing: 1st PAT-RN

There is quite a bit of “workwear” shown at Pitti Uomo, and I use the scare quotes for a reason. I’m not usually one to complain about a lack of functionality in clothing, but it’s difficult not to think that most of what is presented as workwear is a joke: flimsy, trend-driven, and beyond that, boring and unflattering. Not so with 1ST PAT-RN, the project of  Cristiano Berto and Sylvia Piccin. This is a brand that combines elements of workwear, trad-wear, and ivy-style to offer what I’d describe as nostalgic explorer-wear.

1st pat-rn styleforum

Cristiano and Sylvia

Before you balk at that description, the clothing isn’t costumey in the vein of Haversack or even hardcore in the way of Nigel Cabourn. Nonetheless, it does evoke some of the same feelings of the gentleman (or gentlewoman, as there are women’s pieces as well) traveler, with a regular selection of blazers and chore jackets set atop tapered chinos and denim.

There are two aspects that set 1ST PAT-RN apart: meticulous fabric choice, and smart, largely modern (if vintage-inspired) cuts. The combination results in clothing that is both pleasant to wear and very wearable, with a narrow but fulfilling range of styles. The pieces that most grabbed my interest during our visit were a pair of lovely straight-legged 4-pocket trousers in an indigo twill, and the very handsome chore jackets – in particular, a model in deutschleder that was made specially for Manufactum Magazin (which I hope makes its way into the main collection).

Fans of layering will rejoice, as there are enough interesting mid-layers (vests, knits and the like) to provide a good backbone to the very strong basics; as will those of us who are always looking for an escape from slim jeans and trousers – you’ll find both straight legs and pleats here, which look very nice when presented with chunky footwear. 1ST PAT-RN has also worked with Timex to release a handful of special dials and straps, which makes a great deal of sense when you’ve seen the clothes. They’re similar in style – 1ST PAT-RN is deceptively complex, well thought-out, and utilitarian – but with an enduring attractiveness that’s both compelling and hard to ignore, no matter your personal style.

See photos from Pitti, as well as images from the S/S2017 lookbook, in the slideshow below

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The 3 Wildest Brands at Pitti Uomo 91

In addition to some of the best classic menswear brands, the best accessories, and the all-around best brands, period, Pitti plays host to some crazy and crazily impressive work. Here are three of the wildest brands at Pitti Uomo 91, brought to you by the discerning eye of Arianna Reggio.


One of the makers that impressed me the most at Pitti was Old Randa. Andrea, the creative mind behind the brand, caught my eye with his eclectic style. With his thin figure, the arms covered in tattoos, and the slim, straight moustache, he made me think that, if Baudelaire had been alive in 2017, that’s exactly what he would look like.

Since I am an incredibly frivolous person and I tend to dedicate attention to people with charm, I immediately approached Andrea to find out if his creations were as compelling as his style.

This is how I got swallowed up in a spiral of art, history, and tradition that almost left me overwhelmed as if I were drunk.

Andrea is a patina master, which means that he specializes in the art of dyeing leather. Because of his strong personality and his personal background (he worked in theater before dedicating his time to the Old Randa project) his creations are rather unique. Think Bontoni shoes tripping on acid.

Bright colors, such as absinthe green, bright purple, and mustard yellow, are combined using no apparent logic, and they make the shoes look like the skin of exotic, venomous animals.

I pointed at a pair of brogues that looked as if they were coated in the red marble adorning the Medici chapel in Florence.

“Ah, those!” said Andrea with a smile. “I dye them using wine must.”

As it always happens when I hear the word “wine,” I pricked up my ears.

“I retrieved an ancient recipe for making wine in the Ancient Rome. I dip the shoes in the must using an amphorae until they’re almost completely black, and then I polish away the excess until beauty is revealed.”

Then he flipped the shoes to expose the sole, and I was, if possible, even more blown away. On the leather sole of the shoe was impressed the strange figure of an animal; Andrea explained that he has always been fascinated by the drawings of ancient European explorers, who, coming back from their adventures, would try to illustrate the exotic, unknown animals such as lions, peacocks, elephants, and crocodiles. Because these representations were solely based on the memory of the explorers, they were incredibly inaccurate, and looking at them today they seem the drawings of mythological creatures.

I collected Jasper, who didn’t get a single word of the conversation – which was in Italian – and I walked away asking myself if this encounter really happened or I was still getting over last night’s prosecco.  Or if this whole Pitti thing was a dream, and I had just woken up to find out I was at some batshit crazy contemporary art vernissage in Copenhagen.

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Francesco Maglia is a big, ruddy man that, if it wasn’t for his perfectly tailored clothes, could easily be mistaken for Santa Claus. I timidly peeked inside their booth attracted by the varicolored umbrellas sprouting from rudimental metal tins, and Francesco Maglia literally dragged me inside and introduced me to his little crew – which were all family members.

“Hello, my dear,” he solemnly said, “I am Francesco V, and this is Francesco VI, my son.”

“Oh.” That’s pretty much everything I managed to say, partly because I was trying to figure out if the guy was shitting me, and partly because my hand had started to go numb in his vise.

“So…what’s going on here? You guys make some pretty awesome umbrellas,” I said, deciding that adulation is always a safe option. Besides, their umbrellas really are quite amazing: they look sturdy and practical, but with a range of colors and shapes that denote careful research in aesthetics. I would say that they’re the type of umbrellas I wouldn’t mind using to beat up a mugger on the bus, only to clamorously open it in a dramatic gesture a minute later and walk away in style, chin to the sky.

“We, young lady,” said Francesco V in his deep, low voice, “We are some of the best umbrella makers in the world.”

I stared at him for a long moment, finding myself speechless again. He said that in such a calm, confident way that I believed him immediately. He proceeded without giving me the time to process the information.

“Everything we sell is exclusively made in our workshop. We are a five-generation umbrella makers and we still use the same methods and processes that Francesco I used when he opened the workshop. Each umbrella requires more than 70 steps to make.

“You like that?” he asked, noticing I was eyeing a beautiful umbrella in cobalt blue.

“It’s really nice,” I replied sincerely, “The wood seems quite solid!”

“It is. It’s a single piece of wood. A whole branch of walnut, actually.”

Francesco went on explaining how they only use the best wood branches to make their handles, and how laborious the process is.

“First, you have to select the branches. Then, you have to straighten them, and that requires a lot of time – up to 6 months – during which the maker steams the wood and softens it in order to bend it to the correct shape.”

I suddenly felt reverential respect for this man, who was clearly passionate about his profession and was taking the time to illustrate his art to me. It broke me a little when his face changed to a sadder expression as he told me that people don’t seem to care about quality anymore.

“People don’t understand that an umbrella like this is an heirloom piece that will last through more than one generation, because my umbrellas simply don’t break. My sister has had hers for over 30 years, and we just recently replaced the canopy: it looks like new again.

“The demand is so low that we had to come to terms with some of our offerings; for example, we are no longer able to offer silk as a choice.  Our fabric is now a blend of cotton, silk, and wool.”

His big smile came back as soon as I told him that I work for a menswear forum (it took a while before he understood what that was) where quality is not only appreciated, but also worshipped like a goddess, and I promised to introduce his brand to the community.

I walked away after one last, vigorous handshake that thankfully didn’t make my $3 Hello Kitty umbrella fall off my tote bag. That would have been embarrassing.

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Since both Jasper and I have the sense of direction of a blind mole in a maze, we found ourselves lost in the main pavilion more than once trying to find the shopping area, which was supposed to be a pretty big deal this year. During one of our aimless wanderings, we ended up in the area dedicated to maîtres parfumeurs, as in: the beauty section.

Honestly, I feel pretty at ease around beauty aisles, so I suggested going through them in hope to find the shops and maybe even a perfume to bring home as a souvenir.

“But…what does beauty have to do with Pitti Uomo?” objected Jasper.

Oh, God. Men. Always asking irrelevant questions.

“Aren’t you a big connoisseur of fragrances yourself?”

“Yes, but…is this a good use of our time?”

I stared at my colleague in dismay: he succeeded in the attempt of making me feel more guilty than my husband ever has.

“Fine. Let’s go this way, perhaps we will find the…”

“Ohh, look! Roses!” breathed Jasper, waltzing towards the stand of Essenzialmente Laura, which had rows upon rows of elegant perfume bottles protected by crystal cloches.

I followed him to the stand, where a woman was elegantly waving her hand, spraying perfume all around.

“This is Mystic Rose,” she said smiling at us. “It’s part of our collection dedicated to the Bible.

“Roses are a biblical symbol of wisdom and purity. The thorns represent the sins, and the Church itself is oftentimes represented with a rose. Do you like it?”

Jasper seemed pleased with the smell of Mystic Rose, so the woman showed us the rest of the Bible collection.

“This is Incense of the Churches of Rome,” she announced, spraying off the fragrance on a piece of paper and handing it to us.

“It smells…like a church,” I commented stupidly, but I did mean what I said. If you ever entered a big cathedral in Europe – whether it’s Notre Dame or St. Peter’s, you know what I’m referring to: that smell of melted wax, incense, and wood has probably been the same for centuries. It is actually not unpleasant: it instantly brought me back to my trip to Bruges, when I had one of the most intense sensorial experiences of my life. I was walking down the aisle of the enormous cathedral in the central square of the city, and someone started playing the harp in a little hidden chapel. If you have never heard the sound of a harp resonating through the marble walls of a church, let me tell you: it was the most poetical sound my ears have ever perceived, and even if I chased it desperately in hundreds of harp concerts after that day, I was never able to grasp that celestial melody again. It was one, ephemeral moment of pure beauty, and it’s lost forever.

That’s what I was thinking when I smelled Incense of the Churches of Rome: I felt grateful for the privilege of having shared the stage with Beauty one day many years ago, in a semi-desert church in Belgium inundated with the morning light.

Perhaps it’s not a perfume I would wear on a daily basis, but the melancholy those notes of incense instilled in me is more precious than the average “I’d have sex with myself” fragrance.

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So here we are! Hopefully you enjoyed reading about the more unconventional people and brands that populate Pitti Uomo. Watching the photos online and reading about it on fashion magazines and blogs doesn’t even begin to explain the variety of incredible personalities that you can encounter. If you take the time to talk to them, they’ll tell you stories – their stories – that will transcend the menswear field, and you’ll find yourself wondering if you really should be listening to these mad individuals rather than concentrating on the clothes and the products.

Oh, but you can’t help that,” whispers a voice in my head: “We’re all mad here.

The 2 Coolest Brands at Pitti Uomo 91

This year, we went to Pitti with an open mind. New brands awaited. New collections! We saw much, and much that we saw was good. And as hard as it is to see thousands of vendors, let alone pick favorites from among them, we’ve narrowed our top picks down to just two brands – one streetwear, one classic menswear. Part of that is because in addition to looking great, being made to a high standard, and offering a compelling viewpoint in a saturated market, both of these brands have that something special – and by something special, we mean style.

Streetwear: De Bonne Facture

Although still a young brand, De Bonne Facture is no longer a newcomer. We visited their showroom last year, which you can read about here, and they’re now stocked in multiple countries, as well as across the US. Despite the modest growth (and despite LeBron apparently appearing at least once in the knitwear), De Bonne Facture remains married to two things: the first is Déborah’s (the designer) almost manic insistence on quality. I have to say, it’s almost distressing to examine a garment at Pitti and not see a single errant stitch or thread – but it speaks to the exacting standards to which the clothes are manufactured.

The second defining characteristic of De Bonne Facture is harder to quantify, and it’s also a big part of the reason we’ve selected it. Personally, I’m convinced it has something to do with Déborah herself. Arianna did mention her briefly, but she does have a strange magic about her. Part of me thinks that De Bonne Facture is so good primarily because Déborah wills it, in a Jedi kind of way – althou perhaps it’s as simple (and as socially complex) as having excellent taste. She’s unapologetic, and firmly herself, and the garments reflect both those traits. She also wears her own clothing most of the time, and tells me she’s frustrated when people ask if and when she’ll make a women’s collection. In her words, she already does – De Bonne Facture is not so much unisex in the way of early 00’s names like Rad Hourani, but rather almost sexless. The clothes are so successful simply as objects that they don’t require a clothes-hanger-thin model to show them off.

What’s certain is that Déborah has an eye for matching materials with garments. Everything feels right – all the pieces have an appropriate heft; you’re not thinking “If only” about any of the details. When you try on the coats, the pockets are wear they should be. The shoulders sit well. Similarly, the trousers are cut to go with shoes or sneakers. The accessories aren’t an afterthought so much as a well-considered finishing touch. Even the jeans, which in the past Déborah has told me they only made because “Everyone has to make a jean,” are dyed in natural indigo and cut with a slight carrot shape that fits perfectly with the silhouette echoed across the collection.

Speaking of the collection, there are a few new pieces that are absolute standouts. One is a robe coat done in a highly textured wool-blend, and as much as I’d love to take credit for inspiring said garment during our last visit, I admit that I’m not that influential. Either way, it’s beautiful, with a nice heft that makes it drape very nicely. The other piece is a suede varsity-style jacket lined in cream shearling which really has to be seen to be appreciated. Otherwise, you can expect high-quality knits (inspired by traditional shapes but well updated), comfortable trousers, and really (truly) nice shirts and even henleys.

Ultimately, De Bonne Facture is special in part because of the restraint the garments show. As usual, the clothes retain their classic, muted colors. Navy and camel have been joined by a light clay color that lends itself particularly well to outerwear. Everything is nicely textured without being overwrought, and the details that are included (such as a special loop, taken from an old military coat, that keeps the belt on the new robe coat in place) don’t feel extraneous or intrusive. They are, like Déborah herself, uncompromising, and I can’t wait to see how the brand grows.

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Classic Menswear: Camoshita

Camoshita is, by this point, a household name on Styleforum. As is Yasuto Kamoshita, who – I swear – is, every single day, the best-dressed man at Pitti Uomo. The guy is a legend – there are plenty of men at Pitti Uomo who I would describe as “well-dressed,” but very few who are “elegant.” Yasuto Kamoshita is the latter.

So are his clothes. Camoshita, despite being something of a love letter to – simultaneously – Ivy style and the golden age of Hollywood, possesses an innate sense of playfulness that’s very modern. It’s tailored clothing that’s relaxed, not just in silhouette – Camoshita regularly plays with loose, comfortable shapes – but in style. For example, a knit wool hoody worn under a plaid field jacket and over a band-collar shirt looks perfectly at home next to a double-breasted suit.

I always look forward to seeing the Camoshita booth. And it’s not just because the clothes are nice, but that the experience of seeing them is so well thought out. Many brands at Pitti only have the space or inclination to present a rack of clothing for you to sift through. Camoshita, by contrast, is overrun with lovingly-styled displays of the clothing. I’m not even really a #menswear guy, and it’s menswear heaven. It was one of two brands – the other being Snow Peak – where Arianna was compelled to mention that we didn’t need a picture of every detail on every garment, and could we please go somewhere else now.

Unfortunately, the light inside the booth is still not the greatest for pictures, but we’ve tried to snap a few for you (by we, I mean Arianna), and perhaps you can at the very least get a sense of the silhouette – a loose, almost egg shape on top – primarily through the slightly oversized outerwear, and a slim but relaxed trouser on the bottom made up the bulk of the offerings. In particular, I appreciate that there’s no single decade that Camoshita presents, in the way that other brands have collections devoted to 90’s style, or 50’s-style suiting, or that sort of thing. Although you can look at the collection and see some reference points – is that Dick Tracy over there? – nothing is even remotely costumey, and everything has been elevated with pleasantly modern fits and finishes.

Again, it’s the ineffable that pushed Camoshita into our top pick. The way it all works seamlessly together, the way the fabrics and cuts are considered, even down to the way it’s styled – all in all, Camoshita is a collection in the truest (fashion) sense of the word. It stands alone, reliant only on itself and some good ol’ romance, and it sure as hell impresses.

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Despite being, in many respects, drastically different, both Camoshita and De Bonne Facture share the same sense of being much more than the sum of their parts. That said, they’re also similar in that each part is beautiful in and of itself. They ooze style – not just in the way they look, but the way they feel and what they stand for. For now, feel free to tell us which of the two brands you’d rather wear every day – and if you visited Pitti, what you thought the standouts were.

The Best Accessories at Pitti Uomo 91

The Best Accessories Brands at Pitti Uomo

1. Ana Lemata

Ana Lemata is less a milliner than a textile artist who happens to make hats – and “passionate” doesn’t begin to describe her approach to her craft. Her hats are by turns whimsical, elegant, and romantic, ranging from traditional designs to hats that are barely recognizable as hats until they’re worn.

Ana was trained by the former milliner to Queen Mother Elizabeth of England, though she also carries a Ph.D in art history. Both skill and knowledge are on display in all her wares, and one gets the feeling that her hats wouldn’t be out of place in the Guggenheim Bilbao. But don’t let the incredible artistry fool you – these hats, made of materials such as beaver felt, vicuna, and straw – are made to last as long as the wearer, with proper care. And, while there are a host of ready-made options available upon inquiry, Ana relishes the opportunity to make bespoke hats for discerning clients.

If you’re in the market for something hand-made, unique, and sure to bring you years of happiness, you should act soon – currently, Ana’s prices are almost criminally low considering the materials used and the amount of work that goes into each piece.

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2. PB 0110

One of the most interesting pieces we saw at Pitti was this undyed leather backpack by PB 0110. This is a German brand that manufactures primarily sleek, modern leather accessories; very much in the vein of Scandinavian design but with a slightly more streetwear bent to them. What that means is that instead of rigid perfection you get a product with a bit more personality than the stereotypically featureless accessories people still tend to associate with ubiquitous minimalism.

Like most of the companies that show at Pitti, PB 0110 is eager to tout the lasting quality of its products. Normally, I’m wary of these claims, but pictures of well-used leather bags suggest that perhaps there’s more than marketing spin to the statements.

Though the articles are available in a range of colors and styles, the undyed leathers are probably the stand-out. Perfect for lugging around your rolls of dead-stock denim and small-batch-roasted coffee beans.

3. The Bespoke Dudes Eyewear

If you spend any time involved in the #menswear community online, you’ve probably heard of The Bespoke Dudes – or at least of the founder, Fabio Attanasio, who’s a veritable Instagram celebrity. The eyewear is based on classic – mostly 50’s and 60’s – styles, but updated for a more modern look. Every pair, whether wire or acetate, is manufactured and hand-finished in Italy, and if nothing else it’s a great alternative to the Luxottica behemoth. Of course, you’ll have to make sure the shapes and widths work for your face, but the details, lenses, and finishes may just pull you away from that free pair of sunnies you keep in your car’s cupholder.

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4. La Portegna

We’ve been singing the praises of La Portegna since at least 2014, and nothing has changed our appreciation for these lightweight travel goods and accessories. While in years past the offerings were very voyage-focused, La Portegna has expanded somewhat to include a wider range of women’s goods, along with shoes and sneakers for both sexes. The latter being, as José told me, a natural extension of the brand, despite (his words) the ubiquity of minimal sneakers.

To me, the appeal of La Portegna is how good the products feel in the hand, and how comforting it is to bring them with you on a daily – or irregular – basis. The designs and leathers continue to be attractive to both the eye and the hand, and offer a relieving middle ground when one is faced on all sides by heavy leather weekenders and Nylon carryalls. And, to José’s credit, his (leather-soled) espadrilles are the only espadrilles I’ve ever considered wearing.

Oh, and if you’re looking for a backpack in La Portegna’s beautiful and long-wearing ‘Sol’ leather, the wait is over.

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(Disclosure: La Portegna provided Styleforum with sponsored goods for a different project in 2015)

5. Merola

Merola is an old standby of Italian glovemaking, and for good reason. Since 1885, they’ve managed not only to hang on to their manufacturing pedigree, but they’ve adapted their line to fit the needs (and hands) of everyone from Kate Winslet in Titanic to your average guy with a smartphone. Of particular note were the gloves lined with tie silk, which is a touch that I can see many Styleforum members finding attractive – and comfortable. The materials and linings remain sumptuous, the finishing top-notch, and the number of styles available mean it’s pretty likely that you’ll be able to find something to keep your hands both warm and stylish, whether you’re riding a vintage bicycle or just nonchalantly stuffing your gloves in the pocket of your overcoat.

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Three Great Classic Menswear Brands at Pitti 91

While there are hundreds and hundreds of brands that show at Pitti Uomo, many of them deserving of your time and attention, it takes something special to stand out from the crowd. Here are three great classic menswear brands at Pitti 91, all of which we thought had that little extra.

1. Peter Nappi

I’ve been following Peter Nappi, off and on, for several years now – though this is the first time I’ve had a chance to see their wares in person. My interest has largely been devoted to their line of handsome work boots, which are about as streetwear-friendly as you can get. But this season, Peter Nappi has introdced a new line of beautifully-patinated shoes that, at least in the warm browns that were shown at Pitti, are perfect for less-formal tailored clothing, or even dressed-up casual wear. I was most impressed by the wholecuts, which I thought had not only a shape that would be conducive to a range of outfits, but a honey-gold warmth that I can see pairing very nicely with, say, sage-green trousers, as well as worn denim. If you’d rather wear something a little slicker with your jeans and jacket, perhaps a pair of suede zip-up harness boots is what you’re after. Those, I have to say, were gorgeous.

Peter Nappi is based in Nashville, but the entire line is made in Italy, and most of the products are Blake-stitched. However, there is a line of completely handmade Goodyear-welted workboots, should you want to branch out.


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2. Fioroni Cashmere 

Fioroni cashmere caught our eye at Pitti Uomo for the delicate nuances of their incredibly soft cashmere sweaters, but our interest deepened when we learned about Fioroni’s innovative techniques and philosophy. The brand stands against animal cruelty and uses only the finest Mongolian cashmere that is spun in Italy, while the leather is sourced exclusively from the food industry. Every sweater is finished by hand using pure cashmere thread.

The most interesting products we spotted were the Duvet line and the bio cashmere. After weaving, the Duvet garments are washed for an hour in water coming from the Lake Trasimeno, which is rich in iron and gives the cashmere an extra soft, compact, and virtually pill-less texture.

The Bio Cashmere is dyed using exclusively natural pigments; we spotted oak-dyed cashmere in the most beautiful taupe hue, and olive-dyed knits in a delicate pastel green. The colors of the Bio Cashmere line are pleasantly muted and, just like indigo-dyed garments, they take on character as they age and get washed.


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3. Massimo La Porta 

Massimo La Porta is a Neapolitan shirtmaker who learned the art of shirt making from his uncle Pino Borriello, one of the first shirtmaker in Naples in the 1940s. His goal is to provide a product that follows the steps of the traditional Neapolitan tailoring as well as contemporary style.

Each shirt goes through twelve hand-stitching steps: collar,  button holes, shoulders, and hips are hand-finished, and the Australian mother-of-pearl buttons are sewn by hand using a lily-stitch. The armholes are not sewn along with the hip seams; instead, they are hand-finished using a technique named “curl.”

Although there are many well-known Neapolitan shirtmakers, La Porta’s wares caught our eye due primarily to the range of fabrics on display. Particularly appealing to Jasper was (unsurprisingly) a medium-blue chambray shirt with exposed selvage detailing, though there were plenty of interesting patterns perfect for casual use alongside the more classic stripes and solids.


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How to Wear a Cape

The first time I went to Pitti, which was only a few years ago now, one of the brands that most stuck out in my mind was Tabarrificio Veneto, a company that makes – among other things – gorgeous capes. I thought it was fantastic. And when Arianna and I returned to their booth again this season, I still thought it.

It’s interesting to see such garments alongside the trend-driven wares that many of the brands at Pitti are selling; even the most established companies change somewhat over the course of a year. Capes, however, have been basically they same thing since the first time shepherds pulled fabric ’round their shoulders. But, like any garment, they’ve come in and out of fashion, most recently experiencing a surge of popularity in the nineteenth century, before fading again into obscurity. Now, they’re largely seen as accessories for Vampire: The Masquerade cosplayers and halloween revelers.

As unfortunate as that is, it’s my hope that it will shortly change. Back in 2015, actor Antonio Banderas said he wanted to bring back capes when he enrolled at Central Saint Martins. Sadly, he’s made none so far, but even if Zorro’s failed us that doesn’t mean others aren’t up to the challenge. At Pitti 91, Spanish tailoring house Sastreria 91 showed off, in addition to some fascinating coats and jackets, some very fine capas. Theirs are less the cloaks of masked superheroes, and more the raiments of modern-day toreadors; Sastreria 91 favors bold colors rather than Poe-ish blacks.

There’s always been a contingent of cape-wearing men present as Pitti Uomo, and I’m not just counting the guys who drape their overcoats off their shoulders (which isn’t so much “affected” as it is “really handy,” because of how hot the damn pavilions are). Of course, most of these efforts – many of them nothing more than photo-bait – fall into the category of “No thanks,” but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t men who wear capes quite well.

One of those men is Styleforum’s @Butler, who told me that he never wears a coat anymore. “No need to get a fitted overcoat, no need for gloves – you just put it on,” he said. And then demonstrated. I felt immediately jealous, and beyond that, I couldn’t believe how natural it looked – and that was even before we’d gone to see Sastreria 91 and Tabarrificio Veneto.

That, we did the next day. First, we stopped at Sastreria 91, where in addition to capes Paul showed us some of his very well-cut coats and jackets. One of these pieces is a “modern cape,” a long jacket featuring two front panels that hang separately from the back of the garment, and which you can see both me and Paul wearing in the slideshow below.

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While I understand that these pieces probably won’t attract our more conservatively-minded members, I must say that the patterns were cut so comfortably, with such an impressive amount of movement granted by the non-traditional curved seams, that I was tempted to walk out of the booth wearing one. Of course, in addition to the above pieces, there are the capes. Here, you can see them in all their glory:

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Later in the day, it was Arianna who pointed out Tabarrificio Veneto. I’ve written about them before, and I think that this paragraph is still perhaps the most accurate way to describe what it’s like to put on a cape:

The look isn’t everything. No picture can fully communicate the magic of donning (yes, donning) a cape: one must grab it firmly but gently by the lapels, gracefully curl the spine, and then extend, swirling the cape about one’s shoulders in a motion that requires approximately twenty square feet of empty space if one doesn’t wish to endanger passersby. Once it’s on, you swing one side of the garment up over your opposite shoulder in a gesture so powerful it must be experienced to be understood. I did it one time and almost passed out. Muttering “Nemo me impune lacessitt” under your breath as you walk into the night gives +10 to vengeance.

You can click here to see what it looks like in slow motion.

Now, I would like to adjust that description slightly by saying that after seen more people wearing capes, I think they don’t need to be quite so dramatic. I’ll also say that it’s the cape-like garments with toggles and straps and what-have-you, the garments you see posing on the Pitti Wall, that are a bit more perilous than the un-altered originals. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anyone wearing one of said capes and thought it looked good; although Tabarrificio Veneto has now split into two, and its sister brand focuses on producing solely those cape-inspired pieces of outerwear.

However, what you really want are the traditional Venetian capes -named tabarri– which look just as they did when they were used in the Middle Ages by knights and aristocrats. The Venetian cape has one single clasp that buttons on the neck – Tabarrificio Veneto uses a metal lion head, which is the symbol of the city of Venice – and the tabarro remains closed by throwing one side over the shoulder. It comes in two lengths: a longer model that goes down to the calves and takes 6 meters of fabric to create, and a shorter version that is ideal for riding horses (or bikes). The fabric is a thick, heavy wool that repair against the wind and is also entirely waterproof. The main characteristic of a tabarro is the live-cut of the wool, which is never hemmed. Otherwise, it is a simple cape.

The more rugged capes could easily be worn with brands such as Engineered Garments, The Soloist, or even Cabourn and the like, while working well with country-inspired tailoring. The dress capes require a sharper outfit, however, as @Butler demonstrated in a 3-piece suit from Savile Row. I can easily imagine wearing one to the ballet. If you live in Venice, so much the better.

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There are a handful of other companies making more modern capes, and one that may be of interest to you is Norwegian Rain, which produces this S-Cape in weatherproof fabric with a fur collar:

Norwegian Rain pitti uomo 91 how to wear a capeAs you can see, it’s not quite traditional. And, I have to say, I don’t love it the same way I love the pieces from the two brands mentioned above. While it may be very functional, it loses the charm of wearing something that is nothing but a cape.

Regardless of what type you choose to wear, I’ve observed enough cape-wearing over the course of the past few years that I think I can safely put together the following shortlist of tips for how to wear a cape:

  1. Own it.

That…really seems to be the only rule. A big part of nailing the look is not to feel affected. Don’t fidget with the collar, don’t constantly look at yourself in the mirror, don’t call attention to the fact that you’re most definitely not wearing a coat. If you’re wearing jeans and sneakers, maybe don’t wear a cape made of cashmere Loro Piana fabric. If you’re wearing a suit and tie, maybe don’t wear a shepherd’s cape. Otherwise, just put it on and go outside.

Now, I’ll be honest. It’s possibly you have to be a handsome older gentleman living in a European city for this not to look silly. Or at the very least, attending an evening affair. But I did think, while looking at the tabarri, that the short 15-18 version could be perfect for anyone who wants to ride a bike when the weather’s cooler.  Like me, say. Yes, you’d need to wear gloves, but you’d get to bike around with your cape streaming in the wind behind you. And that, frankly, sounds awesome.

Arianna Reggio contributed to this article.

Styleforum’s Pitti 91 Recap

Pitti passes by so quickly. There is so much build up beforehand, and then… poof, it’s over. I’ve spent the last two months planning what to see, who to meet, etc., etc. Then the week comes and it all turns into a hazy whirlpool of cheek kisses, dinners, and nighttime events in lavish locations. Then, a few days later, I leave and feel like I didn’t really have time to actually speak to all the people I wanted to speak to, I didn’t see all the exhibitors I would have liked to see, and I didn’t have time to just stroll about and see the city-sized museum that is Florence. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining – I just spent almost a week in one of the world’s most beautiful cities, discussing and looking at beautiful clothes, shoes and accessories. I guess it’s just impossible to squeeze everything you’d want to do into four days.

I was lucky enough to be traveling with Jussi Häkkinen, a new partner at E-F-V, and his lovely fiancée, Anu Ratulinen. This season my fiancée, Erica, couldn’t come because of work. She usually helps out with the photography when we’re there. Fortunately, Andreas (@Anden) was able to come this year and take pictures. And even though I missed having Erica with me, I really enjoyed hanging out with Andreas this week.

Anu had taken care of booking an apartment for us. I was expecting your average Air BNB experience, meaning a decent flat with a shower. What I had completely missed was that she had managed to book us a room in one of Florence’ oldest and most well known palazzos. Not only did the 7-meter ceiling have beautiful frescos, but the apartment was also overlooking Arno and Ponte Vecchio. We found out later that this palazzo was Hannibal Lecter’s Florence residence in the movie Hannibal.

After arriving pretty late the first night, I had to dump my luggage in the room quickly to join a dinner for “influencers” (I really can’t identify with that term), hosted by tie makers Loïc et Gil. The restaurant was very nice, and even though I arrived a few hours later than everyone else, they had only gotten halfway through the 10-or-so-course meal. The company was good and naturally we ended up at cafe Gilli in central Florence. Gilli’s is a beautiful old cafe, with some nice pastries and decent drinks. All of this is impossible to appreciate during Pitti though, since the place is brim full of Pitti visitors, and the staff is particularly rude. Tired after traveling and the big meal at the restaurant, I headed off to our apartment to get at least a few hours of rest before Day 1 of the fair.

Day 1

I woke up eerily early the day after. Couldn’t shower, since all the hot water was used up. A quick cold wash in the sink had to do the trick for day one. We got dressed, had a quick cup of coffee and headed off to meet some friends outside the fair.

Andreas and I had decided to meet up inside the fair before lunch. There were so many people to meet and greet outside of the main pavilion that we actually didn’t get inside before lunch. After some haggling, Andreas, myself, and a Swedish photographer friend named Milad managed to get our lunch passes, even though I had emailed ahead to make sure there would be no problems this time. “Oh well, it’s Italy” (a phrase I repeated to myself a couple of times this week). We arrived at the lunch buffet, met some Swedish friends, had some wine, and headed out again.

Once inside the fair halls, we walked around just looking into booths for a while. Of course we had a few must-sees (the usual suspects), but nothing scheduled. This was pretty much my philosophy for the week – trying to have as little as possible scheduled, to be able to actually experience the atmosphere and the visual impressions without repeatedly checking the clock. This made the entire week much more enjoyable, and actually fruitful.

We met Jake and Alex, formerly of the Armoury, in Orazio Luciano’s booth. They told us they are now launching their own store in London. Exciting news indeed for all Londoners.

Day 1 went by way too quick. Since we had planned to go to Plaza Uomo & Simon Crompton’s Independent Shops Symposium at Palazzo Budini Gattei, we didn’t really have time for dinner. Unfortunately, the location of the party, beautiful as it is, didn’t work perfectly with the symposium that was being held at a stage at the far end of a big hall. Standing close to the stage, you could hear what Patrik of Skoaktiebolaget, Mark of the Armoury and the other guest speakers were saying, but at the back of the room everything dissolved into mumbling. Partly because a lot of the guests didn’t really care about the shushings from the people who wanted to hear what was discussed onstage. Since we hadn’t had time for dinner, the drinks hit harder than they usually would have. Once it was time to get something to eat, Benedikt (@braddock) lead the way, and a nice little company of people (12 or so) headed off to a really nice place, centrally located, where I was seated next to my good friends, Norman Vilalta and Charley Marcuse (@mr.claymore). The meal was great, the company was even greater, and all of a sudden we found ourselves at Gilli’s again.

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Erik is co-founder of EFV Clothing. You can find him on Instagram at @ErikMannby. If you’re attending Pitti Uomo 91 this January, let us know in the comments below!

The Pittilogues: Pitti Uomo 91, Day 5 – The End

Pitti has seemed more subdued to me this year. Les boisterous. The theme – Dance!, or something – has been much less apparent; the only gesture is an installation of gyrating mops in the plaza – many of which are broken by Friday. I really don’t think it’s just me, either. I’d guess there are fewer peacocks, and more importantly, there seems to be less interest in them. 

Arianna and I meet late, having stayed out until about 4AM the night (morning?) prior, and it’s pouring rain. We get caught in a burst on the way to the Fortezza, and are soaked through by the time we arrive. The plaza is empty even for a Friday, the weather having forced all but the most devoted away. Some of the true believers stand around, looking wistfully at the wall, plumage and spirits bedraggled. Someone stops me in the central pavilion to take photos; tells me it’s because I fit the image of their brand. The mind boggles.

We make good time through the show; taking photos where we need to, saying goodbyes, talking to people we’ve managed to miss. There are several – strange leatherworkers, artistic milliners, cape-makers – that are worth seeing, but for the most part we’ve done our job. We return to the press room for water, and then it’s over. We leave the Fortezza without a backwards glance. I say goodbye Arianna at her hotel, and meander back through the city, headed for the Piazzale Michelangelo and a last glimpse of Florence.

The duomo rises from the heart of the city. Fog banks and curls through the rooftops, lifts as it kisses the villas nestled in the forest. There is snow atop the hills. To the west, the sky lightens at last into the pale pinks and blues of  and the sun at last blushes into evening.

It has become harder over the years to write these journals. Perhaps you’ve noticed if you’ve followed along over the past few years. Part of that can certainly be attributed to fatigue, but when I reach the piazzale I consider that perhaps jealousy is the real cause.

Because, you know, perhaps the moment that most sticks out to me from this entire journey was sitting at the Stephanie Ricci show, when the lights went dark and the music swelled and the wall of roses shone beneath the chandeliers. Clothes I don’t care for in an overwrought, clichéd setting – but moving nonetheless. It can seem frivolous to chase after beauty. But when you catch it at last, when you glimpse the naked imperfection and chaos of the world and relief swells within you, you remember that the chase is beautiful as well, and the discovery well worth the effort. 

I suppose that what I’m trying to say, despite the jealous part of me that is tempted not to share these moments with you, dear reader; despite my desire to wave disinterestedly as we let Pitti Uomo fade into internet obscurity as a brief hilarity of the 2000’s, it’s worth remembering that it’s always easy to be dismissive, to look at the unfamiliar and scoff. It’s harder to listen and appreciate.

Harder, but more fulfilling. Thanks for following, Styleforum. We’ll be sharing more thoughts on our favorite brands from Pitti in the near future, but that’s all from Florence. I’ll see you next time.

Attending Pitti Uomo as a Woman

attending pitti uomo as a woman

I didn’t exactly know what to expect from Pitti91, beside a whole lot of tight pants and narcissism. I am familiar with fashion events such as the Women’s Fashion Week, so I am pretty much immune to the nerve-racking parade of individuals that dress up like lion tamers in hope to snatch a feature on a fashion magazine. 

However, attending Pitti Uomo as a woman has been a fascinating experience. First of all, nobody pays attention to anyone who’s missing chromosome Y, unless they are buyers, models, or photographers. The only stares I received from the Pitti crowd were on account of my camera, which was permanently hanging at my neck, and they were sending clear signals that they wanted to be immortalized. 

Second, I think I finally realized what men feel like when they are forced to go on a shopping date with their significant other, and endure hours of meticulous inspection to determine how clothes fit. 

Essentially, my job at Pitti was to follow Jasper around and take pictures of him trying on anything he thought was cool. This ranged from mini top hats with silk ribbons to vampiric Venetian capes, nylon field jackets, and–of course–Camoshita overcoats.

attending pitti uomo as a woman

Regardless of what he wore, Jasper looked as if he just walked out of a GQ cover. I stared at him long enough to understand that he’s that unnervingly type of person that would look good even wrapped up in the recycled plastic they use on luggage at the airport. He probably thought that I was searching for the perfect frame to take a picture, while in reality I was secretly hatching plans to kidnap him and turn him into another underpaid model in LA.

The peak of this try-on frenzy was reached at the stand of a quite talented Italian hat maker, where a small crowd of adoring women insisted that Jasper tried on every single hat that was displayed. 

attending pitti uomo as a woman

On a personal note, I’ve had the pleasure to meet one of the few women present with a booth, Deborah from De Bonne Facture. She’s Jasper’s female equivalent: wearing a menswear shirt and a pair of trousers from her own collection, her face completely free of makeup, she reminded me how French women’s class and elegance shine from within, no matter what they put on, and I instantly felt as sophisticated and graceful as Kim Kardashian on Paper Magazine’s cover.

attending pitti uomo as a woman

The Pitti people warm up to the opposite gender during social events, when the drinks replace cameras in the hands of the attendees. I’ve had the privilege to meet many inspiring and talented people and talk with them over a nice glass of rosso, and the only awkward moment was when, at a dinner, I somehow ended up sitting in front of a wine maker who kept insisting that I described the aroma of the wine we were drinking.

“I don’t really know,” I blushed, swirling the liquid nervously in the glass.

“Come on, give it a try. I smell leather,” he said, inhaling loudly into his chalice.

I am pretty sure that “red fruits” would have been a safe answer, but I didn’t want to sound unsophisticated, so instead I said: “Bitter almonds!”

“Excellent! What else?”    

I desperately looked for Jasper in hopes of being rescued, but he was deeply engaged in a conversation with a French designer, so I dipped my nose into the glass and smelled again.

“Er…dry leaves? Crackling fire?” I will never know if the guy actually figured I was just listing the names of my favorite Yankee Candles, but he did seem satisfied with my answers.

attending pitti uomo as a woman

Besides indulging Jasper’s obsession with indigo-dyed everything, the show itself gave me the opportunity to talk with the makers and the creators of brands – both emerging and established – and understand the ideas behind their product and the character behind their brand.

As customers, we encounter the final product on the shelf of a store or on a webpage, but that is only one of the final steps in the lifespan of each object. Before being handed to us, a designer came up with an idea, sourced the materials to create it, failed several times along the way, and eventually delivered the final product to the retailer. 

When we make a purchase, we miss out on a whole process that oftentimes adds value to the product.

I listened to a leather dyer narrating how he lost his job before trying his hand at what he was doing only as a hobby, and his hands were shaking when he handed me his creation to inspect; I witnessed a tear peeking out of the eye of a shoemaker when he told us about becoming an orphan at the age of 16, and moving to Italy from Tennessee to follow the footsteps of his dad, a shoemaker, who never got the chance to teach him the job; I saw the smile of satisfaction illuminate the face of a hat maker when Jasper complimented the fine details of her creations.

Today’s easy access to almost any item on the market comes at a cost: like in Plato’s myth of the cave, we only see what’s projected in front of us, but that is nothing but a shadow, a ghost, of the show that is happening behind our backs.

Without history, material things are merely stuff. Knowledge is the key to understand the world around us: without knowledge, we could stare for hours at the Last Judgement in the Sistine Chapel and see nothing but a bunch of bodies painted on a wall.

Our mission at Pitti Uomo was to unveil a little bit of the hidden beauty that’s lost in the process that exists between maker and customer, and remind everyone that beauty comes in different shapes and forms – but  that it does require an effort to understand it from our part. 

You can choose to blindly accept what’s presented to you, and nobody will judge you for being lazy or content with it; or you can choose to take a bite of the forbidden fruit, and embrace new depths of satisfaction.

Either way, I hope you will agree with me that it is perfectly acceptable to make fun of a pompous wine maker. 


The Best Streetstyle from Pitti Uomo 91, Day 4

Styleforum’s coverage of the best streetstyle from Pitti Uomo 91 continues, with Andreas Klow’s photos from Day 4 of the fair. Which is your favorite look? The slideshow is below.

You can follow Andreas on Instagram at @flannels_and_tweed.

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