A trip to Pitti Uomo is a pilgrimage many take every year, some choosing the winter edition while others the summer, still others manage to make it to both. Whatever your preference may be, both offer a unique seasonal experience for menswear and lifestyle. This past January saw the return of the 89th edition of Pitti Uomo, setting the stage for fall/winter collections for the next season, which is the norm at the winter edition. Each year the popularity of the event increases and the attendance as well, and this years came away with an attendance record from all aspects. As a first time attendee, I was unable to sense any growth but in speaking to many, I was told there was an increased presence of buyers, press and members of the trade.
Pitti Uomo is an intensive look into the world of menswear and lifestyle, where many brands come to showcase their selection of products and offer them up for sale to buyers worldwide. As you walk through the various exhibition areas inside the Fortezza de Baso in Florence, there are many household names one recognizes but also a significant number of obscure brands, as this is the foremost place to make a name for yourself. Everything from cuff-links to hats, casual wear and formal suiting, one really gets a crash course in all facets of menswear. Just stopping to chat face-to-face with a few different brands yields so much knowledge on the products, mostly because these are either the owners or high-level representatives of the company, and they are educators in a way as well. Consumers are well informed now more so than before, and more inquisitive as well. The more they understand the quality of their purchase, the more likely they will pay top dollar for it. There was one particular experience where I met with the CEO of Vocier, a revolutionary take on carry-on luggage. He had developed the design and described the practical features of the luggage with such passion, that it just dawned on me how great this event really is. More to come on Vocier in a future post.
The other aspect to Pitti is the presence of so many press, bloggers and journalists alike, who are there to enjoy the event but also advertise it to their respective readership. Many of them are make-shift models, dressed to the nines but still maintaining an elegance while others prefer a certain flair, using loud colors, patterns and textures to make their presence felt. There are also many shops and sartorias that don't have stalls at the event, often times because it is cost prohibitive for them, but are in attendance dressed in their own offering as a means of advertising. How is this accomplished? Simple, the droves of photographers lining all corners of the Fortezza, waiting for their chance to snap the perfect picture. Some are amateurs and others professional, representing magazines, newspapers, blogs and everything in between. If you are photographed, there is a good chance you'll find your way into one of these mediums. Your best chance to be properly credited is to advise the photographer immediately or have a card handy with your details. Many make "business" cards specifically for this reason and to gain exposure, while others are menswear celebrities requiring no introduction.
The experience of Pitti was unforgettable, just reliving that feeling of walking into the Fortezza de Baso alongside some of the most impeccably dressed men, made the trip all worthwhile. What adds to the experience is the beauty of Firenze, a city with a rich history of arts and culture. Evenings were best spent socializing over appertivo and enjoying fine Florentine fare, after long days at Pitti. The place everyone seemed to congregate at was Café Gilli, with no shortage of sharply dressed folks enjoying drinks well into the early hours of the morning.
A colorful pocket square worked with warm tweeds and double-breasted overcoats, grounded with ebony black double monks with just a hint of the buckle, a small taste of the eye candy Pitti brings to the city of Firenze. This is what makes the journey to Pitti Uomo so special, a sartorial right of passage if there ever was one.