Expectations are high and the crowds at Pitti Uomo tell of the sector’s hunger for growth. Everyone wants “a place in the sun” in the world of luxury, competition is fierce especially at the top end of fashion, but men’s fashion is a fertile ground where business can blossom. It is worth investing in it: hence, the abundant presence at the Florentine fair in terms of both exhibitors and buyers. The atmosphere at Fortezza da Basso is incandescent. “Super busy”, as some would say. The booths are packed with visitors since the opening on Tuesday, 10 January (the fair ends on Friday, 13 January).
It is mix-match time. The eternal dichotomy between formal and casual in men’s fashion, both in footwear and clothing, finds no solution except in hybrid forms and new combinations. This is what can be seen in the stylistic proposals presented at Pitti Uomo 103. From tailored suits worn together with ultra-technical down jackets, to quilted jackets in padded leather, to trainers with handcrafted details: styles overlap and mix, not only in combinations but as new product forms and concepts. And the stylistic change is joined, unfortunately, by another major change to which fashion must adapt: climate change. The cold weather is increasingly late in arriving, and the lack of cold temperatures also affects consumer choices, causing quite a few headaches.
The mix and match
“The pure classic has gone south a lot,” says Andrea Franceschetti, of the Marche-based footwear brand Franceschetti, which was founded in 1920, and handcrafts elegant shoes, “so we are trying to create a hybrid model. A shoe that is visually faithful to the classic forms but with the comfort of a trainer. We also propose more futuristic shoes, but always incorporating references to craftsmanship. The most sought-after models are the mixes of the various genres”.
Seasonality is put at risk by climate change. Rising temperatures worry many fashion stakeholders. Even among the exhibitors at Pitti, there is a certain apprehension. “We are affected by the climate factor, not only in Italy but worldwide,” Lucio Portolano of the historic Neapolitan glove brand Mario Portolano tells us. “This, together with the pandemic and the war between Russia and Ukraine, creates a very complicated situation”.
“We have to adapt to the changes,” comments Alice Leonardi, sales agent for Milestone Italia, a clothing brand specialising in outerwear. “Now, we need more versatility, even in the fit of a jacket. This is what the market is asking for, work is changing, and we must try to please everyone. Both those who seek the mountain jacket and those who wear the 100 gram down jacket in the middle of winter”. The programming of the seasons is more fragmented. “For each season, we make two releases, so that we can anticipate production”.