The streetwear trend in men’s fashion has certainly been acknowledged in the 94th edition of Pitti Uomo, held in Florence this week. Luxury sneakers were included in many of the spring/summer 2019 collections. However, most labels have chosen to remain classic, with fabrics like cashmere, linen, and wool. But one would be mistaken to conclude Italian fashion is resistant to innovation, as sustainability was the name of the game in many collections presented by the 1240 labels that participated in the event.
Lardini is one of the brands that best exemplify the crossover of sportswear and traditional fashion. Its collection featured deconstructed Saint Tropez-style jackets alongside high-tech outerwear. The brand, which was founded in 1978, originally manufactured coats for companies like Burberry and Etro, but ended up establishing itself as a standalone international label later on. Its products are exported to Japan, South Korea and Germany, among other countries.
Lardini wasn’t the only brand celebrating its anniversary at Pitti Uomo. Herno, best known for its quilted jackets and raincoats, commemorated 70 years of existence with an installation called L.I.B.R.A.R.Y, an acronym standing for “Let imagination break rules and reveal yourself”. The space, which spanned over 100 meters, featured a living room with a big wooden bookcase. But, instead of books, garments were showcased on the shelves.
Herno’s chairman Claudio Marenzi also happens to be the chairman of Pitti Immagine and Confindustria moda. The brand has its eyes set on international expansion, having opened its first shop in New York’s Soho district last year.
Blauer USA is also eyeing the American market, with the debut of its first beachwear collection. “Our collection includes 25 swimsuits for both men and women. It was inspired by American lifeguards and military”, said Enzo Fusco, chairman of Fgf Industry, to FashionUnited. Fgf Industry holds the license for the design, production and distribution of Blauer USA products worldwide. Pieces were made from lightweight and fast-drying fabrics, such as nylon satin and ultralight lycra.
“By adding this beachwear line to our core jacket and coat business, we aim to grow in the American market and increase our proportion of exports, which currently stands at 40 percent. Our goal is to reach 60 percent,” added Fusco. He also stressed that the brand should reach the end of 2018 with a 15 to 18 percent turnover increase.
Roberto Cavalli, which was founded in Florence in the 1970s, participated in Pitti Uomo as a special guest. “Roberto Cavalli’s love story with Pitti Immagine started almost twenty years ago”, recollects Raffaello Napoleone, managing director of Pitti Immagine. “This fashion show in Florence strengthens the label’s relationship with us and the city even further”.
Signed by British designer Paul Surridge, the collection featured many animal prints, such as python, zebra and tiger. White linen was another recurrent fabric on Cavalli’s catwalk.
“I was thinking of the man of 2018, not the man of the future or the past. My aim is to please the market, to sell, otherwise the collection will be a failure,” said Surridge after the show. The British designer has the difficult task of reviving the label, which has been under control of the Clessidra fund since 2015.
The Italian textiles and fashion market is expected to grow 2.4 percent in 2018, according to Sistema Moda Italia-Liuc. Turnover in the sector has reached 54.1 billion euros, which represents a gain of 1.2 billion in comparison to end-of-the-year results from 2016. Throughout 2017, international sales have maintained a moderate growth rate of 3.5 percent, thereby breaking the 30.5 billion euro threshold.
Perhaps encouraged by these figures, more than 19,000 foreign buyers have attended this year’s Pitti Uomo, according to the event’s organizers. Most foreign buyers came from Germany, followed by the US (24 percent), the Netherlands (13 percent), Canada (11 percent), UK (6 percent), and France (6 percent). Upcoming markets such as India and Hong Kong were also represented, while the number of buyers from Japan, China, Spain and Switzerland dropped.
Surprisingly, the number of Italian buyers has dropped 2.5 percent as well, “which reflects a period of continuing difficulty for the domestic market,” according to Pitti Uomo’s management.
The presence of designers like Craig Green, a prominent name in the London fashion scene, is among the reasons why international buyers have manifested such an interest in the event. Green dressed his models in surgical gowns, adorned with climbing ropes and ties.
The city of Florence also hosted a series of side events to kickstart Pitti Uomo, including two new showrooms inside the Gucci Gardens. They featured pieces from Gucci’s recent collaboration with Icelandic singer Björk. Visitors could also see the dress she wore in her video “The Gate.” Designed by Michele, the dress required 550 hours of work, and an additional 320 hours for the embroidery. The piece is made out of five meters of pleated iridescent PVC, as well as 20 meters of lurex organza, crêpe de chine and silk jersey.
This article was originally written for FashionUnited.it. Translated and edited by Kelly Press and Marjorie Van Elven
Pictures: Corneliani, Pitti Uomo, Blauer, Roberto Cavalli, Gucci, Pitti Uomo press office