Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Grey Fox Visits Pitti Uomo with Ettinger - The British are Here!

Pitti Uomo is a biannual menswear trade fair in Florence. I was asked there earlier this month as a guest of Ettinger, who make their luxury leather goods in Walsall (that's a story to be told separately in which I'll tell you about their new collection launched at Pitti).

At Pitti Uomo with @franz_1955 (who's the same age as me) English and Italian styles meet

But what about Pitti Uomo? You may have seen images of improbably dapper men on the walls of the piazza in the Fortezza da Basso, the operatic backdrop to the event. They range from the showy, through the dandyish to the supremely well-dressed. However, they are a side-show to the wonders on display in the halls of the Fortezza. Most of the brands showing menswear and accessories are, of course, Italian, but this year the second largest contingent was the British, with 104 brands showing; ahead of the French in third place.

With Robert Ettinger at Pitti Uomo

Walking around is a feast of dashing dapperness. Italians dress very well indeed. You may not like short brightly coloured blazers, slim ankle length chinos or brogues worn without socks, but they wear their clothes with panache and huge confidence. Italian style has influenced modern tailored menswear because its softer lines and unstructured shapes are more acceptable in these casually comfortable times. However, ask any Italian, and they will quote British tailoring style as a major influence. This has meant a certain movement of each style towards the other, but there is still much that is Italian about Italian style and British about British. 

The British brands bring fresh air in the sense that they offer a stylish alternative to Italian brio. More restrained certainly, less derivative, maybe more creative and original. I say that because the Italian look of short blazers with slim-cut trousers rolled up to reveal bare ankle and brogues has been around unchanged for some years now, while British style has, over the last year or two, embraced looser fits, high-waisted trousers and more classic cut jackets.

As a guest of Ettinger I spent some time on their Instagram - but I also looked around to record on my Instagram Stories some of the British brands. I probably reached just under a quarter of these - and you can see some for a limited time on my Instagram profile here. Just being at Pitti is a privilege and seeing so many well-dressed men is a rare experience. Whatever we think of Italian styles, if only we could persuade the man on our UK high streets to dress as well as his Italian counterpart.


Jim Preen said...

Living in London most of my life, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen men so poorly dressed. Most men don’t have a great sense of style but when we were forced to wear a suit to work there was at least a base line, a reasonable look. Not it’s not just dress down Friday but dress down Monday through Sunday; men seem completely at sea. They don’t know what to wear so opt for the lowest common denominator; an open necked ‘business’ shirt and a pair of trousers from M&S.

I always look to see what shoes men are wearing, now it’s mostly trainers, what happened to those stylish Italian shoes polished on a Sunday night?

Reading this back, I come across as hopelessly grumpy, which is actually the very reverse of who I am, it’s just that when I was growing up all we had was music and clothes, so they were very important, and they still are.

As I say to my daughter I don’t really care what you wear as long as there’s some thought gone into it, some sense of style or at least an idea. I see kids lining up to get into clubs, a night out FFS, and they too are in jeans and T Shirts.

Walk in anywhere and someone has to be the best dressed person in the room. I don’t always want to be that person, but I do sometimes.

grey fox said...

Well said, Jim, many thanks.


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