FLORENCE. I’ll never forget my first Pitti Uomo. It was the 81st edition, in January 2011, and I arrived in Florence straight from my honeymoon in Florida. Due to a delayed flight, I had to go straight to Florence with a bag full of beach clothes, instead of my carefully chosen Pitti Uomo-compatible outfits.
But it didn’t matter. My own sartorial mishap notwithstanding, I was mesmerised by the display of style inspiration, both inside the trade halls and outside the square of the Fortezza da Basso, where the crowd of Italian, American, British, French, Japanese, South Korean and Scandinavian buyers and editors had gathered to greet each other and pretend not to notice the streetstyle photographers.
This was a few years after the first wave of streetstyle bloggers hit the trade show, led by Scott ‘The Sartorialist’ Schuman and Tommy Ton of GQ, and I remember thinking then that this could not get any crazier.
Oh, how wrong I was. Seven years later, the trade show has doubled in exhibitors and visitors.
Instagram has changed the world of menswear at its core. Today it’s not only the professional photographers that are snapping away, it is virtually every other visitor, creating a flood of social posts, stories, hashtags, re-grams, comments and likes. Pitti Uomo has come a long way since it started back in 1972 as a gathering for local tailors and craftsmen. Today, the trade show exhibits north of 1,200 brands, almost half of them from abroad, and attracts more than 26,000 buyers and 3,000 journalists.
Industry insiders seem to agree that there are two winners in the men’s fashion calendar: Paris Fashion Week and Pitti Uomo, leaving both London Fashion Week Men’s and Milano Moda in their dust, and New York Fashion Week Men’s searching for its identity across the Atlantic. Why has Pitti become such a strong player? I think it speaks directly to the heart of what menswear is all about – the product. Pitti Uomo is ultimately a celebration of clothes, of fabrics and materials, of fit and proportion. Furthermore, it is a celebration of all the various style tribes that flourish underneath the fashion trends. If Paris takes care of the avant-garde and the fashion forward, Pitti is the playground for the worlds of tailoring, workwear, accessories, and – as evidenced in the last few years – of street and outdoor.
But it’s also telling that the platform which the Pitti organisation has built around men’s fashion has also created space for some of the most exciting new expressions, like guest designer Gosha Rubchinskiy two years ago, last season’s 032c show, and Finland as guest country. (To learn more about why Finland is one of the world’s most interesting fashion country, see Scandinavian MAN, issue 2).
This year marks another step in this quest to add content to the show, and the organisation will present 37 different exhibitions, fashion shows, and special projects outside of the ordinary trade expo. Naturally, we at Scandinavian MAN are happy that our friends at Revolver, will create a special section of Scandinavian menswear. Our own programming will include five panel talks on masculinity, menswear, retail and more.
Despite having visited numerous editions of Pitti Uomo since my virgin voyage eight years ago, including hosting several events in the city, the show never ceases to inspire. It is the key meeting point for the kindest and most informed menswear personalities in the world. Or, as Scott ’The Sartorialist’ Schuman, told me for the first story I wrote about Pitti Uomo:
— Pitti is about clothes that men all over the world will actually wear, that will make a difference to people’s lives.