An insiders look | Pitti Uomo Autumn/Winter 2018

Video Credit: Aaron Christian

Every six months, the menswear community travel to Florence to attend the best and most elegant menswear show: Pitti Uomo. It was the 93rd edition and a record 36,000 visitors mingled with over 1200 brands for the four day event.

My first trip to the show was in the summer of 2003 when I was the tailoring buyer for Ede & Ravenscroft. It was an incredible experience to see so many great brands. I particularly liked how the larger companies such as Hugo Boss and Canali could share a platform with smaller, artisan brands. The show is held in a medieval fort (The Fortezza de Bassa) but the spirit of the show captures the whole of the City. The streets and bars are alive with visitors from around the globe. No other trade show that I know of has such an effect. Of course, Florence is a beautiful place and no matter how many times I have visited, I am still impressed by the beauty of The Duomo that was the inspiration for Christopher Wren’s St Paul’s Cathedral.

Of course, one of the great pleasures of visiting Pitti, is the people-watching and social media has had a seismic effect on this practise. There were always a few photographers capturing street style but they were few in number and non-disruptive. They would approach you politely and ask your permission before taking your image. But then Scott Schuman and The Sartorialist changed everything! His street photography was so popular that some would spend a few days trying to be photographed…and the outfits became more and more extreme.

Pitti gives us menswear folk the opportunity to wear clothes that in the real world would gain attention…two-tone shoes, wide legged trousers, exaggerated lapels and ultra-short jackets are often the norm. So we have seen the birth of the “Pitti Peacocks”…men who visit the show with the main objective of being captured by one of the many street photographers, who no longer ask permission (who would decline?) and dress in the most extreme fashions. Bright coloured suits, pocket squares, hats, fancy shoes. I am not sure who these men are and what role they have in the industry but they are a constant fixture, fuelled by Instagram (The ‘peacocks social media of choice).

Pitti 93 seems to be a vintage year. My favourite stand was Corneliani who had an impressive display of wrap DB coats, chunky knits, relaxed trousers accessorised with luxury luggage and vintage sports cars. It was good to see a big brand put on a big show. Many pulled out in favour of private “invitation-only” affairs in Milan or Paris and I hope more return. Knitwear worn with tailoring was so ubiquitous, it feels wrong to call it a trend. The fashion for over-shirts is continuing, and Marol 1959 had some beautiful versions in lightweight worsted wools. A good overshirt can be worn over a polo shirt, fine gauge knitwear, or even another shirt and are great for travelling. Expect to see more of them in the High street this year. Tailoring was a little looser and easier with the over-tailored, ultra-skinny fit looking very dated along with the overly narrow lapels.

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It is an irony that I have to travel to see the best British shoe brands in one place, but there is no UK show where Edward Green, Loake, Cheaney, Sanders etc all exhibit together. The UK shoe industry is in good health with interest and buyers from all over the world. English shoes are the best in the world and they avoid seasonal trends but I have noticed more offerings of chunkier soles combined with elegant styles, and the colour palettes are beyond the traditional black and browns. Dark navy is a particular favourite shade but I also saw smart offerings in grey and green.

Colours that would have offended my traditional tastes not that long ago!

I hope I am not turning into a peacock!

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Photo Credits to: collective AKAstudio