A new, gently-subverted blueprint emerges at the world’s leading menswear tradeshow.
Florentine craft is the embodiment of über dapper style. Adjacent sits a medley of colours, shapes and frames blending tradition and innovation. That might sound like a stretch, but Pitti Uomo 103—the biannual trade event that landed in Florence, Italy once again between 10th-13th January—certainly shares an affinity for artisanal fashion. Unlike other fairs, it offers a distinctive edge to menswear along with a gently-subverted template filtered through the plethora of collections on deck.
This season’s lineup featured clothes with a refreshing ingenuity: fuss-free details ruled supreme, not adhering to the classic, dandy-esque threads of elegant suiting. The number of designers endeavouring to rescue comfort and present it as more than simply a symbol of fashion aversion in menswear keeps on growing. It is, of course, a testament to how important this menswear style is, regardless of how many formal staples emerge on the catwalk. The sum of these eclectic parts hints at Pitti’s array of style identities. We can all see ourselves reflected in bits of the event’s winter offerings, from loose-shouldered toppers to oversized pants or perhaps in an earth-toned tailored piece too.
Pitti is a trade show that doesn’t stray much from its classic signatures—a strength to the event and quality that’s engendered huge loyalty from its affluent clientele. Designers exhibited a practical mien and a sense of durability. To some degree, you got the impression that this season designers strove to fill in the blanks they predicted might exist in the menswear spectrum, offering clothes that were intellectual but imbued with a degree of wit.
From seriously glamorous showstoppers to poised ensembles, treat yourself to our rundown of the top highlights from Pitti Uomo 103 below…
Martine Rose is always looking at the potential crossover of British youth and cultural refinement. She likes to aim for the sweet spot where sharp tailoring cohabitates with beach-to-club seductiveness. It hasn’t always thrived seamlessly in the past, but for this season, the designer seems to be moving in the right direction. “It’s a collection rooted to the soundwave of Italo house music,” report the notes. A wave—whether it be sound, fashion or socially oriented—can mean a wealth of things. It might be a cresting neutral collar on a shirt, dishevelled fringes hanging off a jacket or a swell of an oversized garment. Rose excels when, rather than overthinking, she just rolls with it, her Fall outing being one such example. For Rose, creativity means diversity and plurality, two elements are woven ever so beautifully in her Florentine show, the first-ever staged outside of the UK. It implied looking at the cultural collision of all manner of things while paying homage to the impact of the 1980s and early ‘90s culture in a template that evokes the era’s louche nightclubbing environment, which sits at the intersection between her craft and the world stage.
The fluid being the baseline for her Fall collection, she folded together some of this season’s biggest trends—namely corduroys, washed nylons, slouchy cotton and spliced-together fabrics—with notions of “structured freedom.” However, that did not always work: A few models looked like they were being gobbled by their garments, and while some pieces had a wow factor about them, others felt distressing. Beyond that, traditional cues were extremities (fashion-wise, that translated into overstuffed bubblegum puffer jackets with tapered waists which had magnified collars latched to them). But when Rose pulled it off—as she did with a shearling coat with rough inserts, well-cut pants, glossy beads, and sheepskin slippers looking noticeably light—she proved that, amid the many in-your-face commercial stunts, exercising a bit of fun can go a long way.
Jan-Jan Van Essche
Spring might feel like a faraway fantasy, but that needn’t reflect on menswear offerings: function and breeziness are two key elements in Jan-Jan Van Essche’s mood board, veering far into textured experiments. Van Essche’s Fall show was thick with breezy, accessible clothes. Loose jumpsuits, poplin toppers, nude materials and asymmetrical cuts were winningly present. Volume, as usual, was key, toying with big shapes is the brand’s lingua franca, as is the making of chic, extra-long knitwear staples that brought forth a collection of brilliantly smart clothes that seem compulsive wear, and leave plenty of space for interpretation and openness. Some of the strongest offerings here were the most pared-back, notably the minimal perfection of the many maxi blousons paired with neutral-toned accessories. Again: easy, chic, and beautiful from afar, Baldessarini’s soft—yet somewhat puritan—cotton button-downs, outerwear and robes were mindblowing up close too. And that, you suspect, is how he really wants his craft to feel. All in all, for all the noisy patterns, Van Essche is a poised brand. You have to lean in to learn its story.
Baldessarini bathed the grounds of Florence with a gospel-infused spectacle, oozing with merry tracks and immersing guests in a winter wonderland with its new collection. Taking place in the majestic settings of Palazzo Corsini al Parione was a live gospel choir made of six singers: a thrilling experience that had onlookers singing from all corners. The sophistication was evident, from delicate two-piece, sporty suiting—all with a functional edge—presented in a wealth of shades, worn with daring knee-high boots and an abundance of crocheted sweaters. Aside from a few overly voluminous tops, winter-living looked pretty good for Baldessarini: definitely un-trendy but ubiquitously on-target, the brand is clearly obsessed with the billowing form. And as the boundaries of commercial design are increasingly commonplace, Baldessarini might have found a sweet spot in Italy’s menswear scene, which, it goes without saying, comes from a mix of tradition and experimentation.
Based on a careful reinvention of codes and sensitivity to modern style influences, Brunello Cucinelli’s Fall-Winter 2023 collection is deeply rooted on a time-meets-quality factor. The time for experience that cultivates knowledge and artisanal crafts-making in which every garment has the chance to renew itself with combinations that enhance its inherent qualities. Shades take on intense hues inspired by historic wine blends that have stood the test of time, transcending all manner of trends. Here, shades of red—barbera, maroon and burgundy—are presented in a greyish version to convey the passing of time. But above all, the suit confirms its role as a cornerstone of the collection: contemporary, comfortable, and now more versatile than ever due to fabrics that allow the wearer to convert the style of a jacket by matching it with different trousers.
KNT’s beguiling proposition for Fall is a journey into the world of formal wear, drawing on the house’s sartorial heritage and exploring iconic menswear styles through a process of decomposition and recomposition. The aftermath is accessible, contemporary and fresh, something that became key to the brand’s core aesthetic, re-envisioned with modern style codes. Garments play with overlays and layering, creating a sophisticated dialogue that reinterprets the classic in a contemporary key by borrowing details and textures from the casual sphere. KNT’s collections and materials are meticulously researched and refined, starting with traditional fabrics such as extremely soft cashmeres.
Bolts and beams of commercial glory ruled supreme in Alpha Tauri’s offering for Fall 2023 which paid homage to the harmony of opposites. New, oversized silhouettes met narrow, classic fits, while classic natural fibres such as wool, cashmere and tentacle merged with technical performance and three-dimensional knitwear. The characteristic texture of marble is a recurring element in the collection, used as a leitmotif on woven fabrics, knitwear and accessories. The colour palette of the winter range marks the transition from the earthy natural colours of autumn to winter’s colder shades: from deep green, cornstalk and royal plum, to chalk and AlphaTauri, plus a nuanced array of blacks. Fabrics are optimally matched and allow maximum possible combinations, while accessories are made of vegan apple leather strengthening the brand’s sustainable approach to ethical sourcing.
British design has become increasingly conscious in recent times—no mean feat in a system saturated by consumerism. But Luke Edward Hall, brainchild of Chateau Orlando, a fluid label bridging fashion and interiors ever subtly, is conscious about his power and responsibility as part of the new vanguard of a generation of young entrepreneurs shifting the boundaries of menswear. It’s a message which echoes beyond mere collections that most fashion designers create. Hall’s inspiration for Fall, he recounted, stems from a recent trip in Cornwall, where he immersed himself in the folklore: mummers, mermaids and ghostly galleons were the core leitmotifs of Cornish culture and he chose to partially depict the prints on toppers such as knitwear and outerwear. The collection, as of this season, expands his range into shirts, trousers, waistcoats and bags, offering a wealth of staples that complement Hall’s classic aestheticism.
INCOTEX Blue Division
Denim lovers, rejoice! Incotex Blue Division, the Italian tailored denim brand born from the union of skills and expertise of the companies Incotex and Giada, unleashed a collection devoted to redefining five-pocket pants. Here, the denim brand continues its path of growth and affirmation in the five-pocket tailoring scene bringing creativity, innovation and technical expertise to the service of denim. And it does so by increasingly refining its proposal and enriching with new models and workmanship.
A constant exploration of modern staples was at the very core of Il Bisonte’s Fall manifesto: this season, the highlight is characterised by capsule made up of the Snodo Line and two limited edition items—Modulo and Sguardo—which harmoniously blend a contemporary allure with absolute fidelity to the brand’s artisanal tradition. This season, the collection is created from high-quality raw materials such as cowhide leather, following intuition to generate new shapes as well as new functions. Here, design acquires the perfect balance between solidity and lightness.
Innovative Nordic fashion nestled brilliantly at Pitti Uomo this season. Within the fixtures – Scandinavian Manifesto, one of the leading and global collaborations at Pitti. Once again, a collections designed by brands and up-and-coming designers from Denmark, Sweden and Norway renewed the partnership between Pitti Uomo and Revolver Copenaghen, the reference fair platform for Scandinavian fashion and craft. At the Costruzioni Lorenesi, the menswear brands featured in this edition included Adnym, Another Aspect, Berner Khul, Jan Machenhauer, Kormákur & Skjöldur, Les Deux, Norse Projects, Revolution, Rue De Tokyo. This edition also featured the world premiere of the Atlas Works and Days collection, launched by designer Raphael Godfrey that combines functional wear and naval-inspired archival garments: all with cutting-edge materials and techniques.
Given the earnestly crafty-cool appeal of luxury minimalism, it makes a certain kind of sense that MAXIME should cite comfort and poise for their Fall offering. This reference wasn’t an overtly present one, but was traceable in a mix of a relaxed wardrobe, refined tailoring and utility-wear-inspired items for the colder months. A steady threat throughout the new edition is the use of contrasting materials, raw and soft, textured and plain, heavy and light. A heavy double-faced coat in a multi-fabric mix such as alpaca, wool, mohair or silk envelopes like a thick cocoon, whereas a sky blue soft cashmere coat drapes fluidly over one’s body. For the first time using denim, a full Japanese raw denim jacket and trousers set comes with raw-edge details, silvery melange appliqués and heaven metal buttons. There’s a lot to be said to make a signature approach one for the win. And if this lineup is any indication, it seems as if MAXIME’s narrative will only get stronger.
Waste Yarn Project
Paris-based knitwear label Waste Yarn Project, founded by Siri Johansen and Sebastien Maes, uses surplus yarn to create unique genderless garments, a process that happens by knitting by hand on a manual machine. Here, the shape of each WYP garment is thoughtfully designed but each garment has a different combination of yarn and colours determined by a wheel of fortune. Each finished garment is therefore a unique design and numbered to reflect that. WYP’s new heavy gauge style appears in six stripe designs and endless colour combinations, taking inspiration from Hønsestrik—a rule-breaking knitting philosophy popularised across 1970s Scandinavia by Kirsten Höfstätter. Where the front panel, sleeve and back panel patterns are first determined by the knitter’s throw of a dice, the same process then defines which limited number of leftover yarns are utilised to knit. The resulting jumbled lines and glitched colour palettes tell a tale of chaos and creation.
Roy Roger’s new collection owns a decidedly vintage DNA, epitomising the outdoor world of Portland in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s—used as the starting point that inspired the Florentine brand in the creation of the capsule collection. The resulting garments have a modern feel, but with a distinct vintage flavour. The denim is water-repellent, so when used for down jackets and other garments it emphasises its high technical and thermal performance. Roy Roger’s collection is a wear-anywhere one, enriched by denim over shirts with check lining, reversible gilets with one side in treated denim and one in rib-stop, and shetland sweaters.