This autumn/winter 2018 season Pitti Uomo, the Florentine menswear tradeshow, gathered about 25,000 buyers to the Fortezza da Basso. Pitti’s place in the menswear industry has never looked so sure-footed. Now is a time of change as each brand works out the best forum in which to present its clothes. For many men’s labels it makes sense to eschew runway shows in favour of a Pitti stand.
Such was the case for Corneliani, the Mantua-based tailor, which returned to Florence this season after seven years of runway shows in Milan. “Pitti is open to everyone: you have the trade, the press, bloggers; you can reach a much wider spectrum of people and they can touch the product and see it in a quiet way. A show doesn’t allow that,” says style director Stefano Gaudioso.
Other brands stood out for their use of material. Corduroy wasn’t as ubiquitous as last autumn/winter but was still present, for example, in a pair of burgundy La Paz trousers. Technical fabrics continued their ascent too. Belstaff, famous for its waxed-cotton motorcycle jackets, launched a collection of nylon outerwear.
When it came to newcomers, we had our eye on Pelotari Project, an outerwear label rooted in Basque culture, and on trainer label Pairs in Paris. We would be remiss not to mention De Bonne Facture too, with its bucket hats and an oversized overcoat in chocolate-brown (the colour of the season).
Three standout brands:
1. Pairs in Paris: unisex leather trainers in attractive colours – peach pink, navy blue – with gold branding on the heel.
2. Camo: Stefano Ughetti showed jumpers made in a spigatto (herringbone) pattern.
3. Belstaff: The brand’s four-pocket waxed-jacket style was reimagined in lightweight waterproof nylon garments.
Sealup has been turning out fine raincoats since 1935 but this season a cropped jacket from the Milanese house has captured our attention. This Portofino blouson is sewn in Italy from cotton seersucker and is a standout piece in “The Great Summer,” a capsule collection inspired by the breezy elegance of Europe’s most chic resorts.
“The first jacket I ever owned was made for me by my father,” says Bruno Grande, founder of Ka/Noa. Made in Italy but designed in Switzerland, the brand was created with the travelling man in mind. The clothes are made in small batches using specialist manufacturers: jackets are sewn in Parma, for instance, and leather goods in Vicenza.
For all the fashion industry’s talk of accessibility, runway shows remain exclusive events. The industry was founded on a model of exclusivity and arguably this sense of being behind closed doors is necessary for luxury brands to remain aspirational.
This means that determining guest lists is a big concern. Avery Booker, co-founder of Texan data-technology firm Enflux, is hired by Burberry to determine whose attendance at shows will prove most valuable. Enflux applies an algorithm to data from social media and search engines and gives each potential invitee an “impactfulness” rating.
“Brands are looking for quality of influence rather than quantity so one million followers isn’t necessarily better than 1,000,” says Booker. “We track the quality of people’s interactions: comments, likes, traffic and more.”
There are significant hurdles here. It is tough to get to the bottom of someone’s digital influence given that followers and likes can be bought. Additionally, when compiling lists, Enflux is comparing disparate people: editors, bloggers, corporate bigwigs, buyers. Not all guests are being invited because of the quality of their online interactions – and nor should they be.
Brands want their shows to inspire lingering chatter rather than a spike in interest. It may be trickier to track the impact of print stories but think about reading a review in The New York Times or Vogue – there’s a chance it will stick in your mind longer than a blog post.
In a bid to linger, brands are increasingly staging events outside regular fashion weeks, where they can rule media channels for days rather than being wiped out by someone else an hour after their show. That said, according to Booker, the most effective brand in 2017 was Gucci. It showed in Milan and, though it wasn’t off-schedule, Alessandro Michele’s designs kept people talking. One wonders how much Gucci’s impact came down to who was invited and how much was due to Michele’s vision. Sequined tops and star-spangled jumpsuits: it’s tough to be more impactful than that.
Armani has dreamt up a seven-piece capsule denim collection. The designs run the denim gamut: there are dresses, slim-fitting blazers and jeans with colourful printed lining for women, and natty white jeans and indigo jackets with roomy pockets and bright-orange stitching for men. All are made in Italy and are branded with handsome leather labels.
This Canadian eyewear brand is the work of friends Julien Couture and Alexis Martel. Its specs and shades are made in Japan and include striking acetate models with lightweight titanium arms.
Our favourite Swedish raincoat label has called on the expertise of Slovakian shoe brand Novesta to create these playful waterproof Chelsea boots.
Tools can now be purchased from a corner of Hermès’ Paris flagship. Named La Quincaillerie, (“hardware”), this collection comes from Pascale Mussard, creative director of the Hermès branch Petit h, which is dedicated to repurposing materials.
The line will please those who want to fashion themselves into diy enthusiasts. There’s a sense of playfulness here: screwdrivers are sheathed in leather and the line’s stool-cum-toolbox comes with closures borrowed from the classic Kelly bag.