In Style + Design

Pitti Uomo 2018: Street Style Direct From The Florentine Fashion Festival

How a Florentine fashion festival determines what you’ll wear this year

From patchwork-quilt blazers to men in golden tiaras (Gucci’s creative director Alessandro Michele no less) – the first instalment for 2018 of the world’s premier men’s style event certainly didn’t disappoint. If Pitti Uomo – Florence’s twice-annual men’s fashion trade show – told us anything, it’s to expect the unexpected for the next big leap in men’s fashion.

Time to get into hiking boots, corduroy, low-key luxury and Birkenstock’s – because here’s your snapshot of the latest men’s style trends for 2018.

Melik Kam Photo: Instagram

Florence’s biannual Pitti Uomo is something akin to a fashion week on steroids. It’s where the best dressed men (and sometimes women) come from all over the planet to flaunt their unique brand of style and to peacock and parade in the hope of a flash of fashion immortality. It’s where Florence’s ancient cobblestone squares and sidewalks become the real Pitti runways.

Whether it’s nouveau three-piece suits or the latest trend in chinos, maybe it’s the ushering in of a new era of socklessness or just bringing back the fedora – this is where Italy’s city of art and love shows the fashion-forward elite (and those that follow them) what the new looks will be for the upcoming seasons ahead.

While Pitti Uomo is usually best known for translating high-fashion trends to retail, it’s also a street style feast – where the men on display almost always lean more towards suiting and proper menswear, than any run-of-the-mill business or casual attire. So how did the 93rd edition of the famous fashion festival stack up?

Fashion, Firenze-style

Pitti Uomo

Brunello Cucinelli Photo: Instagram

“Pitti is actually one of the most important menswear showcases of the season,” said British GQ’s Teo van den Broeke. “Brands from around the world flock to the Fortezza da Basso in order to show off their wares to the world’s most influential press and buyers, and it’s a prime opportunity for smaller labels to get noticed in an increasingly noisy market.”

Van den Broeke felt the king of cashmere, Brunello Cucinelli, “hit the ball out of the park for AW18” with an on-beat Seventies feel.

“There was plenty of corduroy, including some chunky clotted-cream cord trousers (finished with Cucinelli’s trademark pleats and turn-ups) and a killer double-breasted midnight-blue corduroy suit.”

Couple that with another trend from the latest Pitti outing, hiking boots, and you’ve got the most improbable fashion statement around.

“Hiking boots are big news for next winter,” wrote British GQ. “Hiking, walking and all-round action boots were everywhere in Florence. From souped-up takes on classic styles at Brunello Cucinelli and Bally to sporty hybrid versions at Zegna and Woolrich, inside some hiking boots is where your feet want to be next winter.”

Pitti Uomo is Italy

Pitti Uomo

Check-mate Photo: Studio Due PH/Instagram

Raffaello Napoleone, CEO of Pitti Immagine, told Vogue that the world’s most famous menswear show represents Italy to a tee (or should that be corduroy suit?).

“The Italian way of life is that we like dressing ourselves in the best way possible.”

He was also impressed that America’s oldest apparel brand, Brooks Brothers – a brand that has outfitted 40 US presidents – was celebrating their 200th anniversary at the festival.

“We are really pleased that Brooks Brothers has chosen Florence and Pitti Uomo to start the twelve months of celebrations for such an important anniversary. Pitti Uomo once again demonstrates that it is the ideal place for the events and celebrations organised by the world’s very best brands thanks to its extraordinary public and unique atmosphere.”

Sartorially sassy

Steve Calder Photo: Instagram

High Snobiety’s Manus Browne had an interesting summation for Pitti 93: “Pitti’s showgoers – notorious for their fine-tailoring – have shifted from a more tailored style to a more casual look in recent years, and this year was no different.”

Australian clothier and suit maker, Steve Calder (of Calder Sartoria), watched the latest Pitti trends from afar but was still thoroughly impressed, as always.

“The Japanese continue to absolutely smash the layering, colour combinations and texture – alongside a smattering of the usual pro Italians and Scandinavians,” Calder told The Upsider. “I loved the outfits from: Andreas Weinas, Alfonso Defrancesco, Tomoyoshi Takada, and Alladin Faily. The best curation of Pitti photo in my opinion was Plaza Uomo’s Instagram account.”

The sartorially astute Calder hopes he’ll be in Florence for when it transforms into the next edition of the Pitti City later this year in June.

“I believe Pitti Uomo is one of the major drivers of sartorial inspiration for the average guy seeking his own style. There is truly something there for everyone, and although each year the event becomes further overrun by media-seeking peacocks, the men who mean business continue to do their thing. They tend to fly under the radar and provide true inspiration, without overtly hanging out near the ‘Pitti Wall’ or waiting to get their photos taken.”

So what did Calder make of this year’s ‘trends’?

“I don’t like the idea of seasonal trends, as most trends crossover and will ebb and flow over the course of a few years or more. However, I noticed a distinct movement towards drape, relaxed fits and belted coats. Casentino was missing from Pitti this winter, but my friends in Firenze told me that was mainly because it wasn’t cold enough.”

Niccolo Cesari Photo: Supplied

Local Florentine, Nicco Cesari, told The Upsider Pitti was so important to not just his city but the entire fashion industry because it meant that “important fashion influencers from all over the world can meet in the same place and share their creative looks”.

“[This year’s] top trends are: gangster movies inspiration meets the Great Gasby – [think] double-breasted suit or waistcoat with a tie or turtleneck. Big attention to details – pins , bracelets, rings, watch, pocket square, hat, colored socks, loafers, double monk shoes.”

From boots to Birkenstocks

Birkenstocks are back in a big way Photo: Instagram

While the dandy-men abound, and the ‘peacocks’ may well preen, Pitti has a habit of setting the agenda for what’s ‘hot’ and what’s ‘next’ in men’s fashion – and this time around it was one Australian company that was coming up trumps.

RM Williams were back and perfecting “Brokeback chic” according to sources, with some updated versions of their famous boots and a suite of corduroy-collared jean jackets, suede overshirts and “a killer shearling jacket”.

“There’s also a lovely line in handwoven belts, which given how difficult it is to find a good belt these days, are well worth a look,” gushed British GQ.

“It has been great for us,” RM Williams’ European wholesale manager Jo Doran told Drapers Online. “It’s a good opportunity for us to get our name out there, as we’re still relatively new in the European market. The people we want to see all come to Pitti.”

Meanwhile the other big footwear news was the announcement that Birkenstock (the ubiquitous, but ever so comfy, German sandal) and American fashion designer Rick Owens would be doing a collab. Strange things happen it would seem, as is oft the weird and wonderful way at Pitti.

Brown was the colour du jour (from chocolate to caramel) and gender neutral garments were front and centre, while short jackets were also out in force – from camo and khaki to floral and patch-work. There were convict-inspired trousers – and as always, there were outfits that simply asked the question: “why!?”

Pitti, now such a potent force in the fashion fold, was on fire once more.

Published 17 January, 2018