At Pitti Uomo the division between runway and street seems a lot less clear than at other comparable menswear events. In 2018, social media stars are often a bigger draw than headline designers, and meanwhile brand promotion frequently spills over onto the streets, guerilla-style. The event has even spawned its very own form of wildlife: the Pitti Peacock.
Perhaps because of this, in recent years Pitti street style has become one of the most important indicators of upcoming menswear trends. What can we learn from the opening of Pitti Uomo 94 earlier today?
Check out our gallery of 2018 Pitti Uomo street style for a taste of what’s to come in menswear over the coming months.
What is Pitti Immagine? The Pitti Palace and its gardens are an important historical landmark, symbol of the city of Florence. Immagine is Italian for “image.” So we could say that Pitti Immagine is Florence’s celebration of personal image.
In reality though, there are effectively two parallel Pitti Immagines. Or rather, there’s Pitti, and then there’s Immagine. These two events take place in the same location, at the same time, and are of course very closely related: with visitors to the two events intermingling. Conceptually though, they are very different affairs.
Pitti is an important international trade show for menswear. Here buyers representing fashion retailers from around the world go to see, and order, the latest collections from hundreds of different men’s clothing brands. Some of these buyers dress stylishly. Others do not. But either way, they tend to be fairly discrete. Normal even. These people go to Pitti to work. There are many of them.
The Immagine part is another kind of event altogether. For a start, Immagine has fewer attendees than Pitti. Immagine is more of an exhibition than a trade fair. A display. The person who goes to Immagine goes not to see, but to be seen. And photographed. Especially photographed.
In order to guarantee that they will attract the attention of photographers, visitors to Immagine must dress in a certain way. As with visitors to Pitti, some of these people dress stylishly, while others do not. But either way, discrete is not a word you would use to describe any of them. Indeed, for the average visitor to Immagine, it’s much more important that their outfit be attention-grabbing than actually stylish or put together with taste.
This is because these latter attributes will not guarantee the wearer makes it onto the Instagram accounts of GQ and Esquire. Indeed, much as level-headed reason will never garner the same number of retweets as mean-spirited and incendiary flaming, flamboyance and eccentricism are a much more reliable route to internet immortality than either discretion, style, or good taste.
So while the Pitti buyers roll up to the gates of the Fortezza with their suitcases and jetlag, Immagine attendees hold back a few seconds to make sure that the photographers who wait outside will be provided with an uninterrupted view of their outlandish attire as they “casually” approach the entrance.
Once inside, Pitti attendees make their weary way around literally hundreds of stands, in numerous different pavilions, checking out the latest collections from the world’s greatest menswear designers. Meanwhile, in the piazza at the center of Florence’s sprawling fort-turned-convention-center, Immagine attendees strike a pose.
Some of them are paid models attending only to promote a product. Having traveled all the way to Florence, they will barely enter more than a handful of stands during their entire time at the event, but instead spend the whole day posturing and preening against suitably photogenic backdrops in the hope that the right lenses are pointed in their direction.
Seemingly communicating by some unspoken language, the most terminally narcissistic among these visitors will arrange themselves in a group – silently but very precisely coordinated – and form a kind of tableau vivant of the selfie-age. A readymade photo op that no camera can possibly resist.
As cynical as I may be regarding the phenomenon of the Pitti Peacock, I’m at pains to stress that I’d much rather live in a world where there’s room for such idiosyncratic behavior than one where everyone were required to be “discrete.” What’s more, I can only assume that some of these more unorthodox costumes are the sartorial creations of their wearers. This I fully applaud.
Nonetheless, Pitti Uomo has developed a kind of uniform of its own. And at its worst, the identikit stylings of the Pitti gentleman – invariably a light colored suit, slip-on shoes without socks, and a straw hat with a beard poking out from underneath – is for all its sophistication just as tedious as any mindless teenage trend. What’s more, the sight of large numbers of adult males spending hours loitering in public in the hope of being spotted by a passing camera reminds me of nothing more than the glass-windowed “spas” of certain Asian metropoles – where bored teenagers can be selected by a number and their services contracted for an evening’s entertainment for the equivalent of a few dollars.
With that somewhat uncharitable introduction out of the way, what style tips did we learn from Pitti Uomo 94?
– Candy Stripes
Womenswear (especially of the fast fashion variety) has been overrun by widelegged pants or jumpsuits in broad candy stripes of late. In fact every fourth female on the streets of Italy seems to be wearing some variation of the look this summer. While candy stripes have been noticeable in menswear too, it feels like they really became a thing at Pitti today, with many visitors sporting either blazers or suits in the design.
– WWII Khaki Fatigues
Military-wear never goes out of style (indeed, a ban on all military derived garments would leave a large part of the world totally naked). However, for a long time now, the period of choice for designers to revive has invariably been Cold-War and Vietnam era combat gear: less tailored and more macho than earlier vintages.
The Eisenhower jacket (also known as an “Ike”) was an ill-fated late-WWII design that conjures up images of VE Day and homecoming GIs with cigarette packets tucked under their shirt sleeves. Unlike most later jungle-green military designs, the Ike was more of a desert beige and came with wide-legged trousers. While by no means a full-blown trend – at least not yet – we spotted both male and female versions of this look at Pitti.
– The Ikea Bag Trend Continues
Since Balenciaga appropriated Ikea’s plastic tote bag with its own luxury version – and Ikea responded with a tongue in cheek ad – the Frakta bag has become something of a cult item with DIY fashionistas. A few of which were sartorially expressing their appreciation for flatpack Swedish design at Pitti.
– Double Breasted Jackets
Double breasted suits have been creeping back into mens’ closets for some years now, but nonetheless remained something of a niche item, for only the most committed of dandies. Of course, many Pitti-goers fit this profile precisely though, and thus at the Fortezza a double breasted cut was almost more prevalent than the single fastening version. This may take some time to trickle down to the man in the street, but it does at least mean that you can safely make a double breasted purchase without fear of its shelf-life being abruptly curtailed anytime too soon.
– Loud Print Shirts
Short-sleeved or long, Cuban-collared or more conservatively cut; geometric or floral. Shirts with bold prints come in a million forms – a great many of which were present at today’s opening. This trend, too, will be with us for a while yet.
– Scarface Stylings
Exposed chests, gold chains, medallions, wide collars and white suits. Tony Montana is back.
or is it Crocodile Dundee?
It may not be news, but fashion continues to channel radical social movements (i.e. appropriate them, minus any genuine political commitment) in the form of every French peasant’s favorite bit of headgear.
Once the reserve of dashing actors and artists (and before that, people with real jobs), neck scarves were all over Florence this week. Wear them subtly peeking out from inside a shirt collar, or proudly out in the open over a t-shirt. Either way, a kerchief is a great technique for adding a splash of contrasting color to an otherwise sober combination. And that’s often all it takes to turn a merely tasteful outfit into one that turns heads.