Distressed Details: Riccardo Comi

FLORENCE — Bravissimo, Pitti Uomo!

That was the message to show organizers from retailers attending the 91st edition of the men’s fair for once again managing to pull off a constellation of unique and inspiring fashion events that included presentations by Z Zegna, Tim Coppens and Tommy Hilfiger among the highlights.

The bellwether show, which exhibits more than 1,200 collections and attracts 20,000-plus buyers from around the world, wraps its four-day run here today. And although a bomb scare following an abandoned suitcase prompted show organizers to evacuate a section of the show on Thursday, it didn’t do much to dampen the mood. Once police determined that it was a false alarm, business resumed and the mood lightened.

Returning to the business at hand, Pitti Uomo veteran Eric Jennings, vice president and fashion director of men’s wear, home and beauty at Saks Fifth Avenue, who was attending the event for the 22nd time, said of the show: “I’m always impressed by how they manage to keep the energy, the excitement, the innovation, season after season, it really never fails to deliver. Even last night there must have been four or five fantastic events that we got to go to from brands that are relevant for our business and that are innovative, from Tommy Hilfiger to Brunello Cucinelli. And at the fair, there is always this surprise right around the corner, wherever you go. I saw this whole apothecary and fragrance and beauty area that they didn’t have last season.” 

“I’m always enchanted by the way they organize the show, with these events that encourage a deeper reflection on fashion; their way of introducing fresh talent — or reintroducing established designers in a new way — this time with Tim Coppens and Paul Smith,” echoed Hirofumi Kurino, cofounder and creative director of United Arrows. “They don’t have to do this, because people would come to the fair and do business anyway. It’s like a good hotel, with a good restaurant, plus good live shows.”

Fashion folk should take note, he warned. “Right now, the whole fashion industry is faced with the same problem of not being able to sell fashion like we used to. There are a lot of reasons, but one of them is that the fashion industry, instead of putting their energy into showing that fashion is fantastic, is only interested in talking about world strategies or branding, celebrity hype and social media,” he lamented. “Yesterday, I went to see the exhibition on [Kiton founder] Ciro Paone, which focused on the spirit, or human side, of the house. It makes people more attracted to fashion — more charmed by it — to learn about the culture behind fashion. Since seeing the show, I want to wear Kiton.”

The sub-zero temperatures in Florence provided the perfect frosty backdrop for the show’s standout category: outerwear. “Nobody did it better than Herno. Claudio Marenzi consistently develops exclusive cutting-edge technology combined with luxury,” said Tom Kalenderian, executive vice president and general merchandise manager of men’s for Barneys New York, citing among the “big trends,” lighter weights, water-repellent wools and three-in-one styles; coats that combine an outer “shell” with a separate vest or full coat-liner.

“You can wear each piece separately or attached. This speaks to another trend that is driven by the climate change; we all need a mix of both lightweight coats for the warm fall season in addition to real cold-weather gear for the occasional deep drops in temperature,” he added. 

The downtrend in ties is possibly responsible for the uptick in other accessories such as printed pocket squares and scarves at haberdashers including Bigi Cravatte Milano and Drake’s of London, Kalenderian said. 

“No question, judging by all the dandies lined up at the wall at Pitti, waiting for their photos to be taken, that — with or without ties — these ‘peacocks’ are showing their colors with an abundance of accessories down to the peccary gloves perched ever so perfectly in the breast pocket of their reefer coats.”

Luke Mountain, men’s wear buying manager at Selfridges, lauded Pitti’s increasingly well-rounded offer. “Of course, it’s still the number-one destination to find the best Italian tailoring, but this season we found an impressive assortment of Americana with the likes of Liberty Fairs, as well as brands such as Unconventional who present a more conceptual offering. It was also great to see a few big brand names make their return such as Z Zegna and Tommy Hilfiger.”

Buyers continued to shift budgets away from traditional tailored clothing onto sportswear and the softer elements of tailoring, like bouclé jackets and overshirts in rich wool jacketing cloths, which Kalenderian described as a stand-in for “the quintessential Barbera-check sport coat.”

Highlights for Bruce Pask, men’s fashion director at Bergdorf Goodman, included the soft Sea Island cotton corduroy jackets, coats and suits — in both wide and pinwale — from Brunello Cucinelli, which he described as “terrific modern takes on the Ivy League classic.” For soft accessories, he flagged Begg & Co. with its landscape-driven palette of rich deep greens, blues and rust colors as “representing the season’s palette beautifully.” He also saluted Alessandro Sartori’s retro-ski inspired Z Zegna installation, his first presentation since returning to the house. “It had a great ‘downhill racer’ vibe that mixed technical performance gear and elegant sportswear using graphic, colorful chest and side stripes.”

Call it a sign of the times, but reassuring, tactile, cocooning textures and silhouettes were also a major trend. “Hairy fabrics like mohair, bouclé and shaggy wools that look warm but light are back. They look a little nostalgic and old school, in a good way,” Kurino said. Soft silhouettes in noble fibers from cashmere at brands such as Fioroni to yak’s wool at X channeled discreet luxury. 

Rich knitwear with surface interest, with an emphasis on cabling and texture, will be big next season, retailers believe, with handmade updates on heritage fishermen’s sweaters in luxury yarns one of the hot ticket items.

“The hand-framed sweaters of the Irish Aran Isles from Inis Meáin are very special; incorporating the time-worn tradition of these lovely fancy stitch and cable designs mixed with new slim silhouettes and zip-front jacket models,” Kalenderian said. “These soft, casual, layering pieces just might make a young guy think twice about reaching for that hoodie and decide to wear a sweater with style.”

Sam Kershaw, senior buyer for Mr Porter, was also complimentary of Pitti. “I’ve been really encouraged by the show this season,” he said. “After a rather safe round of pre-collections in November, Pitti has delivered some really interesting brands and product with a clear point of view.”

He said Brunello Cucinelli’s collection was “the standout in my mind, and a great example of a brand which is not content to stand still and clearly understands it is vital to move things on. This season’s collection was a vibrant mix of color and visual fabrications.” He also liked Valstar, which “progressed from offering just their signature button blouson and introduced beautifully crafted shearling overcoats and bombers.” Another standout was Inis Meáin, an Irish knitwear brand that “created a visual collection that is both striking and wearable.”

Some Highlights From Pitti

BRUNELLO CUCINELLI

Designer: Brunello Cucinelli

Inspiration: Naming his fall 2017 men’s collection, “The Art of Blends,” Brunello Cucinelli set the tone for the whole lineup, which was focused on a mix and match of different elements. Continuing its exploration of a relaxed, effortless elegance, the brand presented a wide collection where the signature neutral palette was peppered with pops of colors. Soft corduroy, baby alpaca cashmere, as well as shearling, were some of noble materials used in the collection.

Key styles: New silhouettes and proportions were introduced in the fall collection. For example, the impeccable sartorial coats were presented in an oversize, roomy version. Epitomizing the eclectic spirit of the collection, an argyle sweater was combined with drop-crotch corduroy pants and a pinstriped blazer, while a cotton shirt featured a denim collar.

Retail prices: Not available

WOOLRICH JOHN RICH & BROS.

Designer: Andrea Canè

Inspiration: Functionality and style remain at the core of the Woolrich collection, which offered a wide range of winter options crafted from different materials. The brand also launched its first range of footwear styles, which spanned from revisited Derby shoes to trendy hybrids of sneakers and hiking boots.

Key styles: While the brand’s iconic Artic Parka was presented in a new three-layer lightweight cotton, Woolrich also revamped its Mountain Jacket, which was very popular in the Seventies. This was presented in a Gore-tex version with lightweight padding that also made it suitable for skiing. Versatile parkas were also shown with detachable inner jackets, while joggers came in high-end cotton and wool.

Retail prices: Shoes retail from 250 euros, or $266 at current exchange rate, to 350 euros, or $372, while the Gore-tex jacket and cotton parka are sold at 750 euros, or $799, and 790 euros, or $842, respectively.

Z ZEGNA

Designer: Alessandro Sartori

Inspiration: A skiwear project launched by Ermenegildo Zegna in the Seventies served as inspiration for the Z Zegna fall collection, which was presented with a special installation re-creating a mountain environment, complete with artificial snow. A dynamic, athletic attitude was combined with the house’s signature sartorial approach in a rich lineup that ranged from high-performance skiwear to urban, elegant pieces. The high-end Technomerino jersey and silk developed by the Ermenegildo Zegna textile department took center stage in the collection. The fabric was used not only for the garments but also for a footwear range of 30 sneakers. The color palette spanned from graphic white and matte black to gray, beige and green with hints of red and mustard yellow.

Key styles: Designed for the most challenging weather conditions, a luxury ski suit incorporated the innovative Icon Warmer technology, while knitwear showed Seventies-inspired graphic motifs, which also appeared in a two-tone short coat and in the sporty bombers. Sartorial elements also appeared in the lineup in the shape of soft tailored jackets, shearling peacoats and elegant coats.

Retail Prices: Sportswear ranges from 300 euros, or $320, to 1,000 euros, or $1,066, while suits run from 1,000 euros, or $1,066, to 2,000 euros, or $2,132.

REPLAY

Inspiration: Italian denim specialist Replay made its debut at Pitti Uomo with a collection offering a modern take on military and biker looks. The company revamped a series of its iconic styles refitted and re-proportioned for today. And Replay’s signature denim was juxtaposed with leather in the lineup. The company, which has recently launched in the South American market — a store is opening in Brazil this March — will make its wholesale debut in the U.S. in the first half of 2017.

Key styles: Replay enlarged its collection of denim pants cut in different silhouettes but all conceived to be extremely comfortable and soft. In keeping with the military inspiration, outerwear was embellished with a range of embroideries and patches that served to fill contemporary customers’ attitude toward customization.

Retail prices: Denim ranges from 100 euros, or $107, to 220 euros, or $235, while outerwear spans from 399 euros, or $425, to 599 euros, or $638.

FILA

Inspiration: With business already strong in the U.S. — its main market — and Asia, sportswear brand Fila returned to the show for the first time since the early Aughts for its European push. Images of Eighties icons from Björn Borg to George Michael wearing Fila covered the showroom’s walls, with a pounding DJ set helping draw traffic. “Our ambition is to bring back Fila in Italy. We were one of the country’s first brands to go global and the first to combine activewear with fashion. We were the first brand to introduce color to tennis wear,” said Michele Zambonin, country manager, Italy, for Medico footwear fashion B.V., Fila’s footwear distributor in continental Europe. Founded in Italy in 1911, the brand started out as an underwear manufacturer, moving into sportswear in the Seventies. Since a takeover in 2007 by Fila Korea, the brand is now owned and operated out of South Korea, headed by chairman and ceo Gene Yoon.

Key styles: The collection is divided into three segments: the Urban line, which includes youth-infused staples such as color-block sweatshirts; the Black Line, focused on urban updates of Fila’s signature products, and the heritage White Line inspired by and named after the brand’s tennis line from the Seventies.

Retail prices: Between $100 and $250.

LES PETITS JOUEURS

Inspiration: The fast-growing Florence-based leather goods brand this season added four men’s styles — a backpack, a briefcase and two envelope clutches — that combined beautiful leathers and artisan Florentine craftsmanship with contemporary design and the label’s signature playful hardware inspired by Lego.

Key styles: A briefcase in full calf with a metal clasps in playful motifs including eyes and smiley faces; envelope clutches with raised velvet letters spelling out words like “Nerd” and “Wonder,” and rucksacks covered in silver metal studs with a gold lightening bolt motif nodding to the brand’s logo.

Retail prices: Between around $300 for a small envelope clutch and $850 for a briefcase.

HUNTER

Inspiration: Pitti first-timer, Hunter, the heritage British outdoorsy label known for its iconic Original rain boot, presented its fledgling seasonless line — CORE Concept — at the event. The collection, which entered the brand’s stores in September and is now available to wholesalers, is positioned as a bright and cheerful spin on the British obsession with weather.

Key styles: A range of new weatherproof products and existing icons in a rainbow spectrum with some new additions for fall that included a lightweight cotton hunting coat and a range of mid-layers including a quilted gilet filled with synthetic down. The colored rubber backpacks are super fun.

Retail prices: Between $30 for boot socks and $375 for a rubber hunting coat.

ORLEBAR BROWN

Inspiration: One for the winter vacation, the designer swimwear and lifestyle brand for its 10th anniversary has treated itself to a capsule of tailored swim shorts in vibrant, collage prints by New York-based digital artist Sanda Anderlon.

Key styles: Inspired by David Hockney and Los Angeles, the capsule houses three styles: Hollywood Hills, Venice Beach and Poolside, the latter inspired by the artist’s iconic 1967 work, “A Bigger Splash.”

Retail prices: $195

BARBOUR

Inspiration: The English heritage brand that built a business on sturdy, waxed outerwear for fishermen, the military and leisurely outdoor pursuits, has hooked up with British folding bike specialist Brompton on a bike that shares the brands’ DNA — with a leather seat, leather handlebars and a Barbour-branded crossbar — as well as two cycling jackets.

Key styles: The men’s and women’s cycling jackets come in wax and pack-away nylon versions in olive, black and blue, with embroidered motifs on the pocket flap depicting the three stages of bike as it folds; functional zipped vents and reflective strips at the nape.

Retail prices: Between around $230 and $520 for the men’s jackets.

FUEGUIA 1833

Inspiration: Founded in 2010 in Buenos Aires, by perfumer Julian Bedel, Fueguia 1833 is a niche fragrance brand that debuted in the newly established Hi Beauty section. Using exclusively natural ingredients sourced in Argentina’s Patagonia region or cultivated in the company’s plantation in Uruguay, which was established last year, the fragrances are produced in a factory located in Milan. Due to the rarity of the ingredients, Fueguia products are all available in a limited number. Each fragrance is sold in a wood handmade box that can be customized.

Key Styles: The brand unveiled four new limited-edition fragrances at the show. “Entre Rìos” features citrus notes; “Laberinto,” which is inspired by Jorge Louis Borges’s short story, is based on wood accents; “Chamber” is crafted from the combination of different ingredients mixed to recreate the mysterious smell of a lake’s bottom, while “Yaguareté” has musk notes inspired by the jaguars living in the Patagonia region.

Retail Prices: From 266 euros, or $283, to 355 euros, or $378.

 

Trend-Right

Shearling Details: Due Soli (bomber with shearling collar)

Baggy Jeans: Les Fleurs de Bagne (styled with blue sweater and green hat)

Embellished Backpacks: Invicta 

Cozy Sartorial: Massimo Alba (gray blazer with gray hoodie and pants)

Technical Raincoat: Victorinox (graphic blue raincoat)

Distressed Details: Riccardo Comi (gray turtleneck sweater) 

Hardware Elements: Lucio Vanotti (black hoodie with chunky zipper)

Updated Tartan: Pringle of Scotland (tartan shirt)

Hiking Sneakers: Diemme 

Retro Rounded Frames: Spektre