I spent last week in Florence, Italy covering Pitti Uomo and Pitti W, the men's and women's trade shows known best for translating high-fashion trends to retail. You won't find middle-of-the-road brands at this event: Each label is either steeped in tradition, or starting a revolution in its specific category. (Whether that's men's brogues, outerwear, bow ties, or hats.)
When I wasn't scurrying off to press previews, runway shows, or, um, blogging, I was floating from booth to booth, checking out what the vendors had on offer. Here's a bit of what I saw. (Tomorrow, I'll reveal my new street style icon, who I found at the fair.)
Brunello Cucinelli The Italian brand, best known its heavy use of grey flannel and the color navy, was the first collection I checked out at Pitti. This season, Cucinelli focused less on navy/grey and more on orange, sage, berry, and oatmeal. But don't expect saturated cashmere sweaters and coats. Every shade had a powdery, heathered look to it. What I liked most about the collection--a mix of cargo pants, cords, work boots and fantastic blazers--was how hip it felt. Unlike some stodgier Italian brands, these looks could easily be mixed with more fashiony men's designers, as well as high street labels like J.Crew. My favorite pieces included a puffer covered in cashmere instead of the typical nylon (a huge trend at the show) and a chambray pocket square, one of Cucinelli's signatures.
Perfetto This Japanese shoe label creates an interesting mix with its leather and tweed brogues and boots. Definitely difficult to pull off, but perfect for a guy who's really into fashion.
Barbour My love for Barbour knows no bounds, but I was particularly impressed with the capsule collection the English heritage brand did with Japanese designer Tokihito Yoshida. The cape coat at the bottom must be mine.
Herno This Japanese label puts out exquisite menswear. If I was a fashion-conscious guy, my mainstays would be Brunello and Herno. (Good thing both labels make great clothes for women, too.) I was particularly taken with these jackets.
Tween This popular Turkish label is geared towards a younger, more androgynous set of fellows. What was great about the collection--and actually, several of the collections I saw--was that function served as a big selling point. Several pieces were reversible. The black trench not only reverses but it also transforms into a rucksack. Practical indeed.
SuperDuper Hats I'm always on the hunt for up-and-coming milliners, and SuperDuper definitely falls into that category. The exagerated shapes and interesting color ways caught my eye.
What I Learned at Pitti Uomo Trends in men's clothing live much longer than in women's, so it's no surprise I saw plenty of work boots, scarves, shawl collars, and pocket squares during the week. One thing is for certain, the '70s style so embraced by womenswear right now can be found nowhere in a chic guy's closet. It's still very much about workwear mixed with updated classics. No bell bottoms or paisley shirts to be found.