Fashion, Fighting & Fettucine.
This is my 24th Pitti show. Having launched Globe-Trotter here in June 2005, I’ve never missed a season and this week I’m visiting not exhibiting which is refreshing to say the least.
Pitti Uomo is an institution; a medieval fortress that throws up the bat signal every 6-months for men worldwide to assemble in all their sartorial splendour. Some take the bi-annual event more seriously than others, planning their looks weeks/months in advance in the hope that at least one street photographer will post their purple blazer and orange trouser combination. How you present yourself at work and in life is important. How you present yourself at Pitti (and/or any major fashion week) is critical. The balance in your Pitti looks should lie between not appearing to be so carefully constructed whilst making a strong individual statement. I’m keeping it simple in my trademark loose tapered trousers and a couple of power shirts (one at a time obviously although I did spot a double hat wearer this week).
I’m here for 2.5 days with my friend Mo who’s not attended for over 10-years in favour of showing his Mohsin collection in Paris. As we check-in to the show, I receive a text from my friend Mikkel at Converse who surprises me with the news that he’s here all the way from Boston. We immediately head over to the Gelato stand for a catch-up as it’s been 12-months since we saw each other. Mikkel, Ian and Matt head up the First String division at Converse and are responsible for all the top-tier collaborations such as Missoni, Margiela, Cabourn, Bunney and Hancock. He’s here to announce their latest partnership with JW Anderson who is one of the guest designers at Pitti, showing his collection the following day when Matt arrives. Ian is based in LA so I’m hoping to catch-up with him on my next visit.
We have our first look around and I stop by the Amiacalva stand, a beautifully simple bag brand based in Osaka, Japan. I first saw them last season and following a short conversation, arrange to come back and place an order for my new Stormgard online store launching this Autumn.
The three of us head out bumping into John and James at Concrete who join us for an Aperol Spritz on the Baglioni rooftop. This is one of my two favourite bars in Florence that affords panoramic views of the city and is always the perfect start to every trip. Nigel (Cabourn) turns up with an emergency whistle and we greet each other just as Mo and I leave to attend an event hosted by Blauer and Highsnobiety at the Istituo Innocenti Terrace. There’s a one hour discussion panel on the impact of workwear’s impact on fashion, featuring my friend Steve Sane. My quote of the day is when one of the guest Italian speakers uses broken English to describe digital screens replacing tactile garments in retail stores as “trying to do sex by phone.” We stay for one drink then leave to meet Daniel at Hancock as he’s staying on the floor of our compact Airbnb having left it too late to book anything central.
Day 2 starts off with a 10k run along the river, over the Ponte Vecchio, through the Uffizi Gallery, past the Duomo – ending at our local park where Mo puts me through a gruelling series of core exercises before we finish off with some touch sparring (he’s had 38 professional/amateur fights against my 0). We meet Daniel at Quinoa, a lovely little gluten free cafe for brunch then it’s back to the show for afternoon meetings. We catch up with Sam & Shaka at ACF to talk fitness and fashion for a bit. This season, each section of the show housed in separate buildings within the walls of the Fortezza da Basso have been moved around which whilst frustrating at first because nowhere’s where they used to be, means you’re forced to search people out; which is actually a positive move as the brand mix feels more relevant and each environment reenergised. I’m interested in Snow Peak, a Japanese outdoors label whose stand out product is an awesome fold flat hiking sandal that if my feet weren’t so gigantic would be mine.
We go see Mo’s sales agent friend and conversation is industry standard until he lets slip his brother is none other than Brad ‘One Punch’ Pickett. I’ve never been into football even though my Grandad played professionally, so have always felt left out of this major English social group. However, when I meet anyone who knows anything about fighting, I can deep dive into training, techniques, history et al. The following half hour is the best as we discuss One Punch, his recent retirement, legacy and future plans. If you’re reading this Russell, don’t forget to tell your brother he’s a legend from me.
It’s the last evening which is often the most dangerous as we tend to make the most of spending time with friends we won’t see for another 6-months unless of course you’re locked into the European Fashion Week Tour that is Milan and Paris. We decide on a ‘sharpener’ at Le Menagere (amazing spot) and an early dinner (unusual in Florence) at a low-key GF trattoria in a hidden piazza at the end of an alleyway. It’s Fettuccine in a wild boar sauce washed down with a Terrie di Tufi before stopping by the Fiddlers Elbow aka the Irish Bar on the Piazza Santa Maria Novella for ‘one drink’. This place is a nortorious hangout for Pitti People™ and is an easy trap to fall into. So 4-hours and 5-drinks later I get a text from Mikkel & Matt who are at the other one of my two favourite rooftop bars. The JW Anderson show was a great success and is their single largest Converse collaboration with 7 different styles (usually one style per brand partnership) featured and going into production. There’s a sparkly number that the boys joke they’ll send me just so they can call me Gary Glitter, which is not the best nickname but I’ll take it for a free pair of limited edition sneakers.
Day 3 is a late start having ended up being kicked out of the Excelsior in the early hours. We have to cancel our run and slowly get our act together. Suitcases are checked in at the show as we do the final rounds. I see Lubo who I worked with on a Mastermind x Globe-Trotter collaboration that we discuss should be re-made now that Mastermind JAPAN and Mastermind WORLD has relaunched. It’s then onto Mey Story (best mens t-shirts on the planet) to see my friend Michael so we can arrange a shoot with Stormgard at the end of the month.
Pitti Uomo has always been a source of style inspiration but also a place and time to be together with friends in this small industry of ours. Fashion should be exciting and the start of the season is when we look ahead to new opportunities. Times are changing and retail is challenging, but the feeling I’m taking away from this trip is one of genuine optimism. The future’s so bright I gotta wear shades (to also cover up an epic hangover). Until next time Pitti, keep doing the damn thing and have a wonderful season.