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Pitti proves positive once again

Pitti immagine uomo 95  the tradeshow 188

The autumn 19 buying season kicked off to a flying, if slightly foggy, start at menswear trade show Pitti Uomo in Florence this week (8-11 January).

The overall mood among brands and buyers was refreshingly positive – one label reported the “best ever” start to an exhibition on the opening day on Tuesday.

A range of international buyers from Japan, China, the US and Canada were spotted in the aisles on the first day, alongside plenty of Italian locals.

Despite some delayed flights on day two, the British contingent made their presence felt as buyers from Harvey Nichols, John Lewis, Browns, JD Sports Fashion and Asos, as well as many independents, landed at Fortezza da Basso.

The autumn 19 show was a platform for many brands’ anniversary celebrations, among them British brand Barbour’s 125th birthday led by vice-chairman Helen Barbour. Italian heritage brand Diadora marked its 70th year and Moon Boot its 50th.

Several brands highlighted sustainable pieces in their collections, cementing the importance of the environment to the industry at large.

Sportswear dominated once again, and halls such as Urban Panorama were filled with athleisure and street-inspired looks. Technical statement outerwear in bold colours and prints were a hit with buyers.

In terms of the colour palette for autumn 19 collegiate colours such as mustard, forest green and burgundy were spotted time and time again.

With less than three months to go before the UK exits the European Union, Brexit was a hot topic of conversation. Some UK brands expressed concern over the ongoing lack of clarity, adding that many continental buyers were reluctant to place orders ahead of 29 March.

The bustling mood extended beyond the venue to parties and events hosted by brands across the city. Pitti Uomo’s autumn 19 guest designer, Y/ Project, hosted a torch-lit catwalk show in the hallowed historic Santa Maria Novella Cloisters.

Among the celebrities spotted at Pitti were US actor Patrick Dempsey, who has invested in Italian tailoring brand Ka/Noa, and model Natalia Vodianova, who hosted a gala dinner for her charity, Naked Heart Foundation, with luxury Italian retailer Luisaviaroma.

Despite unsettling industry conditions, Pitti Uomo proved a positive start to the new season, reinforcing its position as the leading European menswear trade show.

The mood at Pitti Uomo

Giorgio Carafa Cohen, marketing manager Italy, Levi’s

We always do Pitti – it is a must. The whole world is here. We see 80% existing customers and 20% new. It’s all about building relationships for us.

Mark McAnulty, head of sales, Gloverall

We had our best first day ever this season. We had customers from China and Canada for the first time here, and they placed orders on the stand. It has been really busy. Our collaborations with E Tautz and Lou Dalton are going down well with buyers.

 Bav Samani, co-founder, Hype

We have moved from the Lyceum to Urban Panorama hall this season and have a much bigger stand, so we can showcase the whole collection. We have been super-busy from 10am on the first day, and have seen buyers from Israel, Spain, Greece and Italy. We have just taken on an Italian distributor and they are already smashing it. We wanted to try something different to get people to the stand, and are allowing visitors to customise their own T-shirt in just three minutes, which has proved really popular.

Archie Hume, founder, A Hume

Pitti is just as inspirational as ever this season – it makes me feel good to be in the fashion industry. It’s important to get out and see what others are doing. Although some brands may not be suitable for us, you can still get inspiration by speaking to like-minded folk. Our business is 90 years old this year, but we are still constantly looking for new brands. Today I’ve seen Rodd & Gunn, which looks really interesting. I’ve been coming to Pitti for 11 years on and off, and it’s as upbeat as ever.

William Church, joint managing director, Joseph Cheaney & Sons

On day one there was a bit of an ebb and flow. Day two is busier. We have written a few orders, but most people are just looking. This is a showcase of our new products and a test bed for new ideas.

The Japanese have been out in force, as they always are at Pitti. We’ve also seen buyers from Sweden, Italy, Germany and Hong Kong. There have been a few people from the UK and we’ve seen Nordstrom from the US.

Pitti is our strongest show. It’s more international and supports buyers better than others. The mix of clothing and footwear is also good for buyers.

At Micam we are a high-end brand – here we sit alongside all the other exhibitors, which means the audience at Pitti has a higher relevance for us.

Robin Yates, co-founder, Nobis

This has been an amazing show. People are really demanding the product we offer now, mixing form and function. We’ve been in this spot [in the Padiglione Centrale] for six years, and it’s a good position. This year we have been inundated with visitors.

Day one has traditionally been dominated by Italians, but we saw a strong international crowd this year. Japan, Korea and France among more than 30 different countries. We’ve had good support from the international market and this show really anchors our international position.

Simon Kirby, creative director, Simon Carter

The show has been quieter than we’d like, but that may partly be down to a lot of flight delays because of the fog. Being at the back of the hall, we find that the show tends to pick up around lunchtime.

Pitti is more about PR for us. We don’t write orders here. We came back to Pitti last season after a break from the show, and it is good to be seen at events like this. It is the only show that we do, and it is important for keeping in touch with the buyers.

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