Bare chested boys, pirates and hipsters on wheels were just a few of the unlikely peacocks strutting their unique personal style to the speaker-sounds of birds chirping at Pitti Uomo 92.
And, just like the fashions that are bartered and sold here, personalities and ideas are also changing. The event, once known as a place for lovers of traditional Italian tailoring and dandy clans, has evolved into more of a Coachella for fashion. “I saw a guy roll in on a skateboard today, and I really have never seen that before at Pitti,” said Lee Oliveira, an international stylist and photographer. "Pitti has changed so much since my first fair years ago.”
The alchemy of visionary designers who have shown their fashions here has been instrumental in altering the DNA of Pitti Uomo. Sustainability, reducing waste and zen culture were all stand out themes among designers invited by Pitti to take part in "Pitti Bloom", representing the vitality and energy of a new generation of designers.
Pitti People Photo by Gio Statiano for NOWFASHION
Irish-born J.W. Anderson, who is famous for his androgynous looks, showed a collection that was all about “coming out” and celebrating what the “new man” is all about. Young men in jazzed up chinos and slogan T-shirts with soda pop illustrations and hearts reflected the ideas of the millennial generation who couldn’t care less about establishment fashion. The collection was also rooted in the idea that a man only needs a few key pieces in his wardrobe - a T-shirt, jeans and a sweater. "I wanted to reduce waste, not just in my own wardrobe but also in terms of information." Anderson said.
Christopher Raeburn presented his second collection for Save the Duck which included military outerwear made from upcycled plastic bottles. Hailed as a pillar of the sustainable sportswear movement, Raeburn explained that he mostly uses organic or recycled fabrics, for which it is still a challenge to find fair prices. Pitti, he said, was a chance to communicate his sustainable mission to the world. "We are working a lot on how we communicate the message to really make it as understandable as possible for our customers."
Christopher Raeburn for Save the Duck Collection Photo Courtesy of PR
Also headlining this season is special guest Virgil Abloh of Off-White, who is expected to showcase a spring 2018 collection which will deconstruct traditional menswear and has been inspired by emerging artists.
It came as no surprise that Pitti tapped Australia as its guest nation this season. One of Italy’s key suppliers of raw wool, Australia has benefited greatly from its exports, which in return have fueled its creative economy.
Eight designers, who share a philosophy of experimentation and freedom were invited to show at Pitti this season: Chris Ran Lin, Commas, Double Rainbouu, Ex Infinitas, Sener Besim, Strateas.Carlucci, P.E. Nation and Ten Pieces rocked the house with their laid back, South Pacific style. The show space was adorned with images by Australian photographer Bartolomeo Celestino, who is famous for his subliminal nature scenes.
“Well I think it's the perfect timing for Australian designers to come to Pitti Uomo. Right now, people all over the world are discovering that Australian fashion has some great, fresh and new ideas,” Australia’s Ambassador to Italy, Greg French, noted, pointing out that it is Australia’s diversity which is helping the country to make its mark. “We are a very diverse nation of immigrants. The Guest Nation Australia really represents our cultural diversity: the fusion of ideas which leads to a very dynamic and very outdoor kind of society, where we do a lot of surfing and running and skiing and hiking and all that stuff as well.”
Pitti People Photo by David Nino for NOWFASHION
Standouts from the show included Double Rainbouu, a contemporary brand that makes chic spooners and fashion forward knitwear. Designers Toby Jones and Mikey Nolan made a name for themselves at cult denim brand Ksubi before deciding island wear needed a makeover. “For us, the beach isn't this sort of paradise. In Australia the beach is somewhere you go every day. So that's kind of what we try to convey with the brand,” Jones said. “It’s not that sort of Tumblr-ized, Instagrammed version with yachts that a lot of resort brands focus on. We try to mix it with popular culture, streetwear and fashion elements. I think that sort of differentiates us, it is like everyday wear, not just holiday wear.”
Buyers were definitely on the move, and commercial offerings for traditional departments stores and ecommerce alike were in abundance. “I’m looking for luxury,” said Tom Kalenderian, Executive Vice President of Men's Merchandising at Barneys New York. “At the same time, we realize that it’s not just about the city and city fashion. Now it’s about recognising that a person’s life takes them from New York to the Hamptons. Today it’s about considering the whole picture.”