In what might turn out to be a metaphor for the show itself, Pitti Immagine Uomo started under cloudy skies on Tuesday morning before the Tuscan sun really warmed things up in the afternoon.
While there were plenty of people milling about the Fortezza da Basso, the show’s striking medieval fortress venue, it was hardly mobbed. According to several seasoned exhibitors, the main visitors on the first day of the four-day show (June 17-20) were Italians, confirming the pattern that has been established over the past few seasons. Days 2 and 3 – Wednesday and Thursday – are when the mass of international visitors turn up, doing the Florence show before they travel north on Friday to attend Milan men’s fashion week. I have never stayed to see it, but apparently the last day at Pitti is ghostly quiet.
All this suggests that Pitti ought to reduce its number of days from four to three, but I would not hold my breath for that to happen. The menswear fair calendar is a long, complicated train and it has taken several seasons for London Collections: Men and Pitti to arrive at an understanding that will prevent a damaging overlap in the future. The attractions of LCM, particularly the Burberry show that was held on Tuesday afternoon, will have delayed some major British and Far Eastern buyers, but it would not explain the lack of buyers from other European countries, the US and the Russians, all of which, Drapers heard, were in short supply on Tuesday.
I am confident that on Wednesday and Thursday, Pitti will be back to its bustling, well-dressed best. Although LCM has created a good name for itself and has squeezed itself into pole position on the calendar, Pitti is still the daddy of menswear events and is widely acknowledged as the real launch pad for the new buying season. With about 1,100 brands on show this season – incredibly enough, its 86th edition – it represents a unique offer of premium menswear.
The spring/summer show is never going to be as popular as its autumn/winter counterpart – one UK agent suggested to me that he will see four times as many Brits and Irish in Florence in January 2015 as he will this week. There is an expectation from many this time, however, that Florence will attract more buyers who have become disenchanted with Bread&Butter Berlin, which will run on July 8-10.
Stylewise, Pitti was a kaleidoscope of colour, patterns and texture. Commercially, menswear offers few opportunities to play with silhouettes, shapes or lengths, but fabric is where menswear designers can have fun. In the Italian sunshine, much of this seemed very attractive and beguiling, but British and Irish buyers will be mindful that a pastel palette might not look quite so appropriate on a wet weekend in Guildford, Glasgow or Galway.