FLORENCE — The peacocks manning the fairgrounds’ courtyard were back in force at Pitti Uomo, signaling the four-day menswear trade show’s reboot.
After the pandemic-disrupted years, the fair is still feeling the pressures and headwinds the industry at large is facing, but it managed to set a good tone for the fall menswear season in buyers’ opinions, with slightly more exhibiting companies than last June, two new sections dedicated to petwear and design, hectic business action, and cohesive collections hinged on retail-ready staples.
“The mood at the fair was really optimistic with noticeably more people and brands in attendance than past seasons, which is a great way to kick off men’s fashion month,” noted Thom Scherdel, Browns’ menswear category manager.
“You could feel the energy before you even entered the fair,” echoed Joseph Tang, fashion director at Holt Renfrew.
“It’s a great full-circle moment that touches on a meta-menswear movement — when young men on Tumblr started talking about the men’s clothing community in a more self-aware way a decade ago — that feels especially relevant now,” said Jian DeLeon, Nordstrom men’s fashion and editorial director.
Fall is bound to be a strong season according to Bruce Pask, men’s fashion director at Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus, who named a few of fall’s defining trends, from the “overwhelming focus on knitwear,” to double-faced cozy coats and corduroy. He touted the Scandinavian Manifesto area and the Sustainable Style section, with Paris-based Waste Yarn Project as a line hitting both the knit and sustainability craze.
“One thing I saw a lot was the continued redefinition and recontexualization of business dress codes,” said DeLeon. “In the ‘anything goes’ world of hybrid office dressing, seeing pinstripes and chalk stripes as well as medium grays and traditional tweeds and flannels interpreted in a decidedly less stuffy manner makes the idea of getting dressed up again feel exciting,” he opined, lauding Deborah Neuberg’s De Bonne Facture utilitarian take on British suiting fabrics.
Tang also spotted new takes on traditional menswear tropes, with relaxed and fluid silhouettes bringing back elements of ’90s nostalgia that felt “refreshing,” he said.
Perhaps Jason Somerfeld, owner of the LetterJ store on Manhattan’s 23rd Street, summed up buyers’ sentiment toward the fair best, noting that it continues to provide “luxe things that you just throw on and go.”
Here are some of the top brands from the show.
Designer: Jan & Carlos
Inspiration: Shots of Central Park during fall’s foliage were clearly pinned to the mood board for this fall collection, hinged on a laid-back, almost leisurely look where colors — turmeric orange, yellow, deep purple, maroon and shades of red — and textures reigned supreme. Heavily layered and elaborate, it spoke volumes about Piacenza 1733’s ambition in ready-to-wear, a division resurrected a couple of years ago and currently accounting for just 5 percent of the business, but one that is rapidly picking up.
Key styles: The eclectic flair of the collection was best telegraphed by layered looks anchored by cashmere sweatpants matched with ikat-patterned jacquard knits in cashmere and silk, or gauzed styles crafted from four different colored yarns and vanisè turtlenecks blending tonal shaded threads. They were all topped with double coats boasting generous lapels and a textured surface that had military inflections.
Price range: Knitwear starts at 340 euros while the most elaborate and precious outerwear costs as much as 3,000 euros.
Designer: Walter and Mariano De Matteis
Inspiration: Kiton’s brother label continued to blur boundaries between Neapolitan tailoring and leisure-inflected staples skewing slightly more toward the latter, with puffers, polar fleeces and cargo pants. “It’s about revisiting Kiton’s prowess in tailoring for the new gen’s wardrobe,” said Mariano De Matteis pointing to a deconstructed cashmere blazer worn with drawstring pants, which is among the brand’s best sellers. Business is booming, the brothers said, and wealthy Millennials are seemingly on the hunt for KNT looks to sport across different occasions. The brand is gearing up for the opening of a pop-up show in Paris’ Marais district from Jan. 20 to 26.
Key styles: Building on seasonal trends, the fall collection had macro-gauge corduroy puffers and performance polar fleece vests textured as if they were crafted from astrakhan. Cargo pants and rib-knit sweaters were topped with unlined single-breasted coats, some bearing geometric motifs, while KNT’s signature relaxed suit was offered as separates, ticking another seasonal trend — mismatched tailoring — seen as a dressy option with a flair.
Price range: From $350 for T-shirts to $7,500 for overcoats with suits retailing at $5,700.
Save the Duck
Designer: In-house design team
Inspiration: Backed by new retail-expert partners, L’Occitane executives Reinold Geiger and André J. Hoffmann, Save the Duck is prepping its next growth phase with plans to open 30 stores over the next three years across continents, according to founder and chief executive officer Nicolas Bargi. The strong attitude showed in the fall collection, where a directional approach informed the brand’s three pillars, defining a precise identity for each hinged on new textures and patterns, including corduroy and polar fleece.
Key styles: While the fashion offering was expanded to include corduroy styles, super-puffy cropped jackets and eco-minded polar fleece designs, the Arctic collection of parkas, currently representing 34 percent of overall sales, saw the addition of a midweight style intended for the warmer season. The Pro-Tech range, informed by high-tech material research, was handed again to Japanese designer Satoshi Yamane, who had collaborated with the brand twice in the past but is now fully in charge of the collection, Save the Duck’s hotbed for innovation. Building on a partnership with material firm Toray, which supplied an exclusive breathable and water- and wind-resistant fabric devoid of PFCs in sync with the brand’s eco bent, the lineup included new styles bearing 3D details on hoodies and cuffs.
Price range: The main collection retails between 250 and 450 euros, while the Arctic range and the Pro-Tech line hits 500 and 800 euros, respectively.
Designer: Dora Zecchin
Inspiration: As denim has recently enjoyed quite the momentum on the catwalks, the brand’s expertise in the category came in handy with creative director Zecchin wielding her know-how in material manipulation freely. In addition to distressed, painted and patchwork denim ensembles, Pence 1979 rode the knitwear wave with a grungy range as part of a tie-up with up-and-comer Danilo Paura. It also debuted an activewear capsule collection for men and women with influencer Anna Kanyuk, showing the versatility of denimwear.
Key styles: A utilitarian inflection, such as padded vests and trucker jackets combining different weights and grains, defined the patchwork denim pieces. Jeans came in either straight or wide-leg fits and were lightly distressed and painted, paired with chunky cable knits and fuzzy mohair cardigans bearing ikat-reminiscent patterns. Among the standouts, a cotton fustian overshirt was treated to look like vintage-looking leather, while in the tie-up with Anna Kanyuk denim was as lightweight and comfy as a high-performance running set.
Price range: Jeans retail between 200 and 430 euros, while knitwear spans from 300 to 520 euros and outwear stands at around 400 euros.
Designer: Julie Sohn and Tillman Lauterbach
Inspiration: It took Sohn and Lauterbach a few seasons to define a directional aesthetic for Ecoalf’s premium brand, but the fall assortment proved worthy of the company’s investment in the collection. Pursuing a wardrobe-building approach, informed more by material research and the cradle-to-cradle mentality than a theme, the designers delivered urbanwear intended for layering with a minimalist and functional bent that defines the growing niche of post-streetwear brands favored by Millennials and Gen Zers in the know. The brand is carried at 60 retailers globally and after three Pitti Uomo seasons it is starting to resonate with buyers at the fair.
Key styles: The season’s cozy coat came in a double recycled wool version with a hoodie at Ecoalf 1.0, while windbreakers had the polish of performance-driven sportswear, crafted from two layers of 100 percent recycled polyester and a breathable and waterproof mid-membrane. Handmade in small villages in Spain, a range of overcoats are crafted from long-haired wool resulting from suppliers preserving the transhumance farming method.
Price range: The collection retails between 190 euros for pants and 800 euros for jackets and coats, with recycled cashmere sweats selling at 250 euros.
Designer: In-house design team
Inspiration: Upbeat from the recent tie-up with the FC Barcelona soccer team (Carles Puyol visited the booth shaking hands and posing for pictures), Herno’s fall collection saw an expansion of its pillars, with the fashion offering nodding to an ’80s, pop-tinged, “Paninari”-at-the-mountains aesthetic, the luxury range ramped up its use of precious fabrics in the core lineup, embracing a more decidedly urbanwear twist embedded with performance features. President and CEO Claudio Marenzi made it clear he’s not aiming to turn it into “a lifestyle brand, we are not a designer label with an aesthetics to telegraph, we are skilled manufacturers,” but he highlighted how the collection has been “stretched” toward new directions to reflect a booming demand for outerwear in 2022 and likely in the new year.
Key styles: Super puffy jackets bearing neon and oil station-inspired logos stood out in the fashion offering, alongside an oversized padded trenchcoat, while mixed media outerwear combining scuba with ultralight nylon peppered the core range, in which American collegiate-style peacoats added a preppy flair. Laminar, Herno’s performance-inclined range, added an edgy water-resistant distressed velvet puffer jacket.
Price range: N/A