Usually during Pitti Uomo, the main international menswear trade show, the flights to Florence, hotel rooms and restaurants are packed and bursting at the seams.
But not this year. My flight was only about two-thirds full and cost £20. The hotel I stayed in, a favourite of visitors and exhibitors, had plenty of rooms, and I received two-thirds off the official rate. At the restaurant I normally go to, the owner kissed me and thanked me for being faithful. The bars at Piazza della Repubblica for the nightcap were barely ticking over.
The publicity girls in their short shorts, handing out free literature and shopping bags in front of the show, were nowhere to be seen, nor were the banner advertisements all over Florence promoting this brand of jeans or that brand of shirts.
The show was quieter than I have seen it in the 10 years I have been going, but it was not quiet everywhere. Some brands had a queue to their stand. The ones doing well were doing very well. Alexander Boyd, one of the youngest members of the British Menswear Guild, managed to almost sew up the entire Japanese market in the label’s first outing, showing a line of contemporary shirts and ties with vintage details designed by former Daks menswear design director Bruce Montgomery. It brought something new to the market, which caught people’s attention.
One never knows what one might miss at a show, and there is no better place to meet people, gauge the market and speak to other brands. I probably met with more than a 100 people in the corridors and bars at the Fortezza da Basso, the show’s location.
Pitti Uomo is the only truly international show covering all the menswear sectors. For this reason, the experience cannot be replicated.
- Oscar Udeshi is chairman of the British Menswear Guild