Pitti Uomo ushered in the autumn/winter 2023 season this week. With a few rays of sunshine, the mood at the men's fashion fair was generally quite positive. Yet, of course, the fashion industry in Florence was fairly preoccupied with the overall economic situation.
Nevertheless, trade fair organiser Pitti Immagine is looking to the future with confidence. Especially now, trade fairs are important for small and medium-sized enterprises, said Pitti president Claudio Marenzi at the opening conference on Tuesday morning. In addition to a renewed increase in the number of exhibiting brands, the fair again impressed with some fashion highlights such as the shows by guest fashion designers Jan Jan van Essche and Martine Rose, as well as an area for dog fashion.
Pitti's managing director Raffaello Napoleone also started the new season enthusiastically, hitting the dance floor at the Mac Jeans stand, where the German jeans label presented a joint collection with designer Barbara Becker to mark its 50th anniversary. Her sons Elias and Noah Becker provided the appropriate beats and Napoleone also tried his hand at the controls back-to-back with the DJs.
"We are now bearing the fruits of our labour," said the show organiser’s CEO of this season, after the menswear fair consistently provided a place for the fashion industry – whether digital or physical – to exchange ideas, despite losses. After the last edition of the bi-annual event in June had welcomed significantly more visitors, the January edition also convinced, bringing in 12,600 buyers, including 8,400 Italians and 4,200 international buyers (as of January 12, at 12pm). Alongside 500 Germans, other countries such as the Netherlands, the US, Switzerland, Japan and Belgium had also increasingly been represented.
Positive in hard times
Andrea Dini, managing director of Paul & Shark, was pleased that after three years there is more activity at the fair again. For him, it is Europe and North America in particular that ensure the halls are full. The German market is especially important for the Italian men's brand, followed by the UK, North America and the domestic market.
For the head of Paul & Shark, the focus this season remained on knitwear and outerwear. In outerwear, however, the brand was also looking towards lighter forms, as a response to warmer winters. Despite rising energy costs and inflation, Dini said the current situation is better than during the lockdowns with closed shops. Times are tough, but he remained positive.
Conquering new markets
AlphaTauri was also optimistic about the future, as it looks to venture directly into a new market. In the US, the Austrian outerwear label is pushing ahead with its global expansion strategy, explained managing director Ahmet Mercan. In doing so, the brand, which belongs to the beverage provider Red Bull, will also use its connection to racing. AlphaTauri is an outfitter of Formula 1 and has its own team at the competition.
Despite the positive attitude, the company has not been spared the increased procurement prices, which is why the prices of the products have been adjusted for this season. In the outerwear segment, AlphaTauri pieces will be priced between 380 and 1,100 euros from AW23.
This season, outerwear was also increasingly centred around the lifestyle component. Head Sports, among others, showed some casual looks at its stand that could also be worn off the slopes. Ski two-pieces, for example, were styled with flannel shirts and underjackets, resulting in outfits that would be too warm for sports purposes. In the coming seasons, more casual pieces will be added to the range of the Austrian sportswear brand, which recently presented its collaboration with Gucci Vault.
Baldessarini also went for a casual winter look and transformed the monumental Corsini al Parione palace into a chalet, with a piano and gospel choir. The German men's brand showed snowsuits with a retro look and brought the 70s trend to the chic mountain lodge - which could also be seen as a print on sweaters. In addition to the sportier pieces, classic suits and straight-lined coats were also on show. For the colour palette, the brand, which belongs to the Herford-based clothing group Ahlers AG, relied on reserved tones such as white, grey and brown as well as light accents with turquoise and orange.
Meanwhile, Pitti Pets, a new section at Pitti Uomo, featured looks that keep four-legged friends - especially dogs - looking chic in all weathers. This came as the fair's response to the heightened interest in pets due to the pandemic, Napoleone said. Pitti Immagine had first tried out this range with a few brands during the Pitti Bimbo children's fashion fair and, after receiving positive feedback, there were now pieces like jackets, collars and other accessories for dogs also at the men's fashion fair, which the event’s boss noted had been seen at fashion retailers alongside women’s and men’s collections. In fact, there were also some animal visitors on site too.
Marco Bernardini was also positive, reporting high footfall at the stand of the jeans brand Incotex Blue Division, a sub-brand of Slowear. The managing director of the Italian company is responding to the overall economic situation with long-term planning, which also includes close cooperation with industrial partners, he explained.
In 2023, the company plans to create a balance between its own shops and wholesale business, with a focus on retail partners and existing stores, after the brand opened two new stores last year – including the largest flagship in New York to date.
Jan Jan van Essche hosts first catwalk show
A total of almost 800 collections were on show at the Fortezza da Basso exhibition centre. In addition, there were some special events at other locations in the city, such as the fashion show by Jan Jan van Essche. The Belgian designer showed a collection in the form of a catwalk show for the first time. Now was the right time for him, he said during a preview talk on Wednesday morning.
In the evening, he presented the show for his ‘Rite’ collection at the Santa Maria Novella Museum and Convent, which was inspired by a dance performance by choreographer Pina Bausch. A slow walk on a catwalk surrounded by columns was accompanied by an epic musical accompaniment of drums and guitars that enhanced the vibe of the ethno-oriented collection.
For the silhouettes, which were mainly wide and flowing, he drew inspiration from pieces such as boubou, a loose outerwear from Senegal, and Arabic robes. Ponchos, capes and kimono-inspired suits were also on show. In terms of materials, the designer focused particularly on natural fabrics such as Italian yak wool for a coat and a lighter wool for tunics and shirts. Some of the looks were complemented with felt hats made of beaver and rabbit fur, which were created together with the Austrian hat manufacturer Mühlbauer. For the colour palette, he used earthy tones and black, complemented by colour accents in curry yellow, olive green and tartan with red.
Italo house and techno in the children’s room
Music also set the tone for the second guest designer Martine Rose. The British-Jamaican drew inspiration from the Italo house wave that influenced the British club scene in the 80s and early 90s, the eponymous label announced on Thursday. At her first fashion show outside London, a football jersey and suit met a pink fluffy oversized coat. Rose also put an emphasis on the tie, pairing the piece – in colourful patterns – with tracksuit jackets and denim jackets, while also letting it peek out from under more classic coats.
Vain, meanwhile, travelled to the early 2000s. The young Finnish label set up a children's room in a space at Palazzo Pucci, complete with a bed, games console and TV, as well as plenty of magazines. The setting was meant to capture the Y2K zeitgeist, where the older siblings were still the influencers and not the stars of social media.
The looks were somewhere between goth and the Berlin techno scene. Long dark leather coats, shirts with long sleeves as well as a net top and a large, white, fluffy coat were on show. Leather played an important role overall and was used for trousers and skirts, among other things, which were also styled on male models. The label clearly focused on playing with gender roles and an androgynous aesthetic.
This article originally appeared on FashionUnited.DE. Translation and edit by: Rachel Douglass.