Pitti Titillates Rich Digital Consumers

The biggest commercial event for high-end men’s fashion, Pitti Uomo, is a prime moment for the fashion community to contemplate the direction of a wider global industry that is worth nearly 3 trillion dollars.  

M1992 at Pitti Uomo. Picture courtesy of Pitti.

The Fall/Winter collections, strategically cherry-picked by Pitti Immagine's leaders, were geared to arouse and captivate the digital generation with a "Pitti Live Movie" theme (live being the key word here) that marked its 93rd edition. And on the catwalks and through the fairgrounds, there was no lack of stimuli in terms of cerebral art, digital installations, and live music. In addition, this edition opened up even more of Florence’s vast architectural treasures – unseen rooms of Palazzo Vecchio filled with Baroque Giorgio Vasari battle paintings and an orchestra rendition of Alicia Keys’ “Empire State of Mind” to celebrate Brooks Brothers’ 200th anniversary... Michelangelo's David alight by a video installation by multidisciplinary artist Felipe Limosani courtesy of Lanificio Luigi Ricceri – just to name a few highlights that left mouths agape. The event also kicked off with Alessandro Michele's magical Gucci Garden presentation, a luxuriously sinister world of mystical monkeys, the Eye of Providence, and botanical wonders. An event that certainly solidified his reputation as a designer for THIS era, whilst equating his design skills tantamount in resonance with the literary imagination and genius of writers and illustrators like Roald Dahl or Maurice Sendak. 

M1992 at Pitti Uomo. Picture courtesy of Pitti.

In addition, the fashions themselves – via urbanite guest designers like Concept Korea’s Beyond Closet and Bmuette, Takahiromiyashita The Soloist and Jun Takahashi of Undercover, Magliano, M1992, and 032c – were all accompanied by a powerful message and digital references. The result was, to fashion experts, fashion that reaches far beyond the concept of “street style” but something more enriched and capable of titillating the mega diverse interests of a hyper-connected generation of rich kids. “These shows target the NEXT generation, bringing a concept full of technology, quality, and aesthetic, which is beyond a street fashion concept,” said Riccardo Grassi, owner of the eponymous showroom that has launched some of the most promising designers of today: Giambattista Valli, Fausto Puglisi, and Massimo Giorgetti’s MSGM… just to name a few.  

All of it begging the question: How do young people afford these high-end, streetwear clothes? A report from The Shullman Research Center titled, "Millionaires Have Their Own Generation Gap,” reported that 23 percent of today's millionaires are millennials. There are now about 5 million millennial millionaires, outranking that of the Gen-Xers, who count only 4 million millionaires. According to a report by the Credit Suisse Research Institute, the amount of millionaires in emerging economies has risen to represent 8.4% of the global total number of individuals who are millionaires in dollar terms. And the spotlight is on Chinese individuals age 18 to 34, who accounted for 60 percent of the country’s foreign travel in 2016 and spent more than $150 billion whilst traveling abroad.

M1992 at Pitti Uomo. Picture courtesy of Pitti.

“In my opinion (these Pitti brands) will easily target the new generations of shoppers in the US and Europe. Brands like the Soloist and Undercover are simply amazing,” Grassi said.
One of fashion’s most important players – Ercole Botto Poala – was at Pitti Uomo presenting new groundbreaking sportswear and athleisure collections made with international designers around the world. Ercole is not only the president of Italy’s luxury textile fair Milano Unica, but also the CEO of Biella-based wool maker Reda 1865, one of the oldest and most important luxury wool fabric makers in the world.

The presentation Athlovers is a sign of the time. Reda, which is famous for its upscale wool used to craft Armani suits, has invested years and euros in research and development to cater to the rapidly growing ath-leisure market and a generation that can’t live without yoga pants and temperature controlled undergarments. But the latest Reda Active line – one of the most innovative breakthroughs in the world of fashion – comes at a high ticket price. One meter of Redactive fabric, which has been used on NASA space suits and high performance helmets, costs about 20 euros, compared to about 14 euros for its traditional wool. “This product costs… I’m not selling a normal fabric. I’m selling content, a product that performs, that’s sustainable and traceable to the factories where they are made and certified. I think all this information defines what we call a contemporary fabric that the millennial wants. Today, you don’t buy a product, you buy content and experience. So, I do fabrics and, in my opinion, I’m doing them in the right way,” Botto Poala said.

032c at Pitti Uomo. Picture courtesy of Pitti.

At Pitti’s Dogana venue, DJ Dorian Stefano Tarantini wooed the crowd with his M1992 (formerly Malibu 1992) 1990s street style fashions emblazoned with references to Italian 1990s pop culture. A normal M1992 cotton t-shirt retails for about 120 euro, Tarantini said, explaining that with all of his luxury embellishments like Swarovski crystals, the sky is really the limit with regard to the rest of the collection. “This is for a niche group of young people that buy online and that have a lot of possibilities to buy and see in fashion, and to spend money. For me, it reflects how much I used to spend money on disks and albums in the 1990s,” Tarantino said. “It’s not easy for me to do something low cost – this is all Made in Italy, all made by hand. The young spend. It’s not just a niche anymore. They want to be ostentatious and communicate with their clothes via social media. Before, they used to go to clubs. And now it is really linked to the social and digital.”