On Monday 7th January, exhibitors were a little worried. There weren't all that many visitors. But things got much better on Tuesday, and by Wednesday there was some real optimism, with all stands busy and some (notably Brunello Cucinelli) absolutely packed out. With over a thousand brands present, the show is a fascinating workshop on innovation in menswear, and it provides a start-of-year test on how the business is feeling. The diagnosis is one of cautious optimism, and this is confirmed by 2012 fashion industry results, with an overall increase in 1.9%, with some countries – above all the U.K. (+9.3%), the U.S.A. (+21.4%) and Japan (+20.7%) – performing particularly well.
Pitti Uomo has progressively carved out its own niche in the fashion arena as a showcase for new emerging brands, which gives it particular value as a lighthouse for new trends. The fall/winter 2013-14 men's collections are highlighted above all by intense work on materials: new takes on old textiles, and new high-tech fabrics that provide fresh opportunities for style and colour. Another trend that emerged is the return of the sweatshirt as a garment that can provide an alternative to sweaters, not only for sportswear and casual outfits, but in smarter and more fashionable looks as well.
Some of the more interesting trends at Pitti include Hardy Amies, who is classical British, but with refreshing takes on colour and on the classic check tailoring, and on the chunky footwear.
Allegri chose Pitti Uomo to kickstart the relaunch of the brand, with the tagline 'The architects of fabrics.' The most significant part of the presentation consists of rainwear.
The same is true of Alviero Martini, whose rainwear is reminiscent of the great explorers and globetrotters.
Brunello Cucinelli is very classical, with the main trend for the fall/winter 2013-14 season being layering: pinstripe suite over shirt and waistcoat, and a padded parka with removable lining. Versatility is the key.
Lardini presents new fabric patterns, and new bright colours such as yellow ochre, brick red, bottle green and turquoise, in garments that express both classical tailoring and a streetwise contemporary look. Lardini also presented a new brand, Gabriele Pasini, dedicated to menswear and accessories, in cooperation with the like-named designer who utilizes features from the Neapolitan tailoring tradition.
Roy Roger's jackets are soft and casual, with lovely earthy colours evocative of the reddish soil of Tuscany.
Japanese brand Noriei makes beautifully-crafted footwear, such as styles that combine a classical shoe with army boots, ideal for stepping out for work in rain and snow, or just for stepping out feeling cool with rolled-up trouser bottoms.
A lot of the looks at the show were about new takes on traditional elements. The Haversack man is an Edwardian plus-foured Sopwith Camel pilot who has wormholed his way to the present, with clothing given a molecular rearrangement, with new colours for the mittens and flying overalls.
Tibi Tie has shifted the bow tie away from the collar and towards a brooch, so that it can be pinned to hats, suits or scarves.
Another style trend at the show is personalization. Masaki Kyoko Homme features creations by textile designer Masaki, whose sweaters and coats are hand-knitted, each unique. Another Japanese brand, Kyuten, makes quality denim, with tears, distressed treatments and fur inserts making each piece individual.
In conclusion, Pitti Uomo 2013 was an event that whets the appetite for the next appointments on the fashion calendar: Milan Fashion Week, from 12 to 15 January 2013. Watch this space!