A first-timer’s take on Pitti Uomo

There’s nothing quite like people watching in Florence, especially when Pitti Uomo, the bi-annual men’s trade show, is on. Twice a year, over 30,000 well-coiffed, smartly-dressed men take over the Italian city, catching up with the latest launches and hobnobbing with fellow sartorialists.

For five years, I’ve wanted to experience this fashion event, and be among the ‘Pitti Men’ — designers, buyers, retailers, style bloggers, editors and fashion influencers — who descend on Fortezza da Basso. This year, I experienced first-hand how it’s not just about dapper men sitting on a pebbled wall enjoying their gelato, as seen in street style photos on Instagram. It is a spectacular four days with shows and launches, exhibitions and conversations, and above all, fashion.

Milan makeover

A first-timer’s take on Pitti Uomo

Visitors usually plan their trips a few months in advance. My last-minute decision meant a few colleagues from the industry and I explored the Airbnb route. A quick stop in Milan had us heading to a local café for a classic Italian breakfast: a chocolate pan brioche and a double shot espresso. Next up, a visit to Antica Barbieria Colla, one of the oldest traditional barber shops in Milan (since 1904). Located in picturesque Via Gerolamo Morone, close to the La Scala opera house, the shop retains its early 20th century charm. Mauritzio, my barber, asked my preference before starting on a 50-minute treatment that included a matchstick flaming process, a hot towel wrap and a menthol hair dry.

Armed with our classic hair styles and trimmed beards, we arrived at our private apartment in Florence the next day, with a beautiful view of the Duomo. A quick change — yellow shacket, yellow linen high-waisted trousers and a patina canvas bag — and we set out for fort Basso.

A first-timer’s take on Pitti Uomo

Look to the streets

Pitti’ 96 (June 11-14) showcased Spring/Summer 2020 collections. Every year, it divides its exhibitors into various sections, and this year had Huemn, the unconventional clothing line by designer duo Pranav and Shayma, representing India.


Access to the big shows, expectedly, was hard to come by. But YouTube helped fill in the gaps. Clare Waight Keller’s proposal of how the Givenchy man should dress for spring — think sharp-shouldered jackets, three-button suits — was a showstopper, backdropped as it was by the 13th century Villa Palmieri and its gardens. The fluid lines took inspiration from Korean street culture. Salvatore Ferragamo’s menswear runway début, by creative director Paul Andrew, at the Piazza della Signoria, introduced bold prints (inspired by the Neptune Fountain), ribbed knits, and Tramezza leather shoes with rubber soles.

In my suitcase
  • Besides my yellow and plum shackets, I’d packed an olive green linen silk double-breasted suit, blue neckerchief, grey suede sagans, an ikat bomber from Suket Dhir, and my newest obsession, high-waisted trousers (in yellow and purple) with nude Toffeau loafers.

Meanwhile, on the streets, the philosophy was ‘no rules’. Double-breasted suits shared space with loose-fitting silhouettes, pop colours, graphic tees and printed shirts. Neckerchiefs were big, as were weather-friendly fedoras, hoodies and umbrellas. Popular accessories included leather satchels, bracelets studded with precious stones, and collectible watches like the Rolex Mickey Mouse 6694 or the Patek Philippe Aquanaut 5065. Another fascinating style was ‘Africanism’, and the character that comes with it. As my Pitti friend, Australian clothier Leif Lyons, said, “What you wear is the canvas on which you paint a picture of your personality!”

Osman Abdul Razak is a Chennai-based bespoke tailor and owner of men’s store, OAR.

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Printable version | Jun 13, 2021 9:04:16 AM |

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