After two seasons of absence, I've returned to Pitti Uomo. for its been too long, Florence! Two seasons feels like a long time in the fashion world because of the pace and speed of collections dropping here, there and everywhere. But at Pitti, there's a sense that the pace is slower. There's time to appreciate craft, skill and longevity of clothing. I don't want to talk about trends or "What's hot!" this season. Instead the beauty of Pitti Uomo is that you find brands, whose wares you'd want to cherish forever, not just a season.
Fashion Diary Pitti W 15
After two seasons of absence, Susie Lau returns to Pitti Uomo.... and Pitti W...with a fresh Fashion Diary!
Day 1Back to top
Lardini x Nick Wooster
This is the second collection by the male streetstyle icon in collaboration with Lardini. I love the way he has twisted classics and fused different genres seen in pieces like a wool overcoat with a reflective waterproof lining and blocks of neon orange. Slip-on trainers (a style of shoe that shows no sign of abating) are rendered in loden green wool. And just in case you forget you're wearing Nick Wooster's designs, little badges of his face remind you just why he is such an inspiration for so many.
Hiroyuki Suzusan is the 5th generation of the Murase family in Arimatsu, a town in Japan, famed for its high quality shibori fabrics. Shibori is a Japanese dyeing technique that involves complicated knotting and twisting and then usually dipped in indigo dye. Hiroyuki though is taking shibori to new contemporary levels with his beautiful range of scarves and knitwear, using shibori on uncovnentional materials like cashmere. Hiroyuki is trying to sustain a dying craft and and as a result he has created convincing and evocative product.
Finlay & Co.
The Pop Eye curated area of eyewear at Pitti Uomo carries on for a second season and I was pleased to see fellow Brits Finlay & Co here, showing their range of innovative yet classic wooden sunglasses. The idea isn't a wholly original one but Finlay & Co have developed a collection that is really refined and as such their classic shapes have gained a cult following. The Thurloe here is a good example of their classic range but they have begun to expand beyond wood to create nifty designs like these acetate Pembroke frames with clip-on reflective lenses.
Day 2Back to top
It's hard not to be drawn into Rumisu's illustrated world with scarf tags that are christened with names like "Monster Selfie". Based in Istanbul, sisters Pinar and Deniz draw out their environmentally aware thoughts such as their hatred of bullfighting and snakeskin farming onto silk and cotton squares. The equally thoughtful tags explain these tales and the larger scarves also come with hand-crocheted animals attached. I also got a bit hug from their character Mr Hugs-A-Lot who was manning their stand!
As the fair gets busier, the finds are coming in thicker and faster. I've lucked out in Touch where the more young and fledgling brands are concentrated. Here are a few of my picks. I seem to be drawn to the brands that displayed a bit of zane and wit about them.
The bright and cheerful palette of Kele's knitwear instantly caught my eye. Idiko Kele creates feel good knits that are all handcrafted in Hungary. Their A/W 15-6 collection centres around geometric patterns and unexpected colour combinations. They have also launched a specific charity collection called #SharingIsMultiplying to raise awareness for autism.
Westage & Co
I wouldn't normally be drawn to a country waxed jacket or a cotton jersey blazer but the dip-dyed ombre colourways of Westage & Co's beautiful outerwear were hard to resist. Korean designer Don Kim established his brand Westage & Co in 2009 and has been honing in on a way to bridge his own Korean heritage with Western menswear codes. A logo in Korean is embroidered on the collar and a tiger print peeks out at you from inside the lining but they're only little cultural signifiers. They don't detract from the clever dyeing techniques that Kim has developed in his home country.
A Who Is On Next discovery, Jimi Roos was born in Sweden but trained in fashion in the small craftsmen ateliers of Florence, making his embroidery all the more delightful. He accidentally discovered a "mistake-driven" way of doing embroidery with the sewing machine. His glitched up embroidery now graces a range of men's shirts, t-shirts and bomber jackets with little moments of whimsy like a smiley face or a tooth lippy grin.
Day 3Back to top
Craftwork is everywhere in Florence, evidenced by the little winding streets of small specialty shops and also in abundance within the walls of Fortezza de Basso as I discovered. There were too many to mention as arguably every brand on show at Pitti centres around craft. There’s always a danger of talking up things for the pure sake of craft - the product displayed by these three brands more than holds its own.
I struck gold when I walked past Bōle’s stand. Literally speaking as their organically tanned leather accessories shone in unison with a deep caramel golden hue. Founded in 1899, Bōle are the last spruce bark tannery in the world operating just south of the Arctic circle in Sweden. Arguably, this 4th generation family business is the one and only Swedish heritage leather goods label that exists, with accolades such as being a purveyor to the Swedish royal court. Having undergone a restructuring process, Bōle are now ready to tell the world about their beautiful rucksacks, briefcases and classic doctors bags. It was a real pleasure to discover their world.
MSL Billy Reid
In the excellently curated Born in the USA section, I found out that American menswear stalwart Billy Reid has streamlined his made in America pieces into a separate range labelled with MSL-ALA, an abbreviation for Muscle, Shoals, Alabama - the things that Billy Reid stands for. The collection consists of hardy forever pieces such as the super soft shearling jacket with copper hardware, leather elbow patched sweaters and campfire ready blankets. With specialist manufacturers from the East to the West Coast used, MSL seeks to tell a more rounded tale beyond our perceptions of Made in the USA.
Pitti always has a great selection of classic millinery not dictated by fads. A new generation of milliners has emerged though so that we can all keep our hats on. Larose is one of my new favourites. They work with a specialist factory in France with the highest quality fabrics to reinterpret classic shapes. Their signature caps are elegant and discreet and for A/W 15-6 come in a range of nubbly wool and collegiate stripes. They’ve also done a complex panelled wool cap as a “showpiece”. There’s nothing ostentation about it though - just a fine labour of love!
And as a final adieu, how about a spectacular moment of whimsy at Pitti, courtesy of this coat by Ukranian young designer Anna K, who showed her pre-fall 2015 collection at Pitti W?