Prominent Australian menswear blogger Simon Hancock (above, centre) visits the world’s most famous menswear fair for the first time this year, and this is what he discovered…
Australian men’s fashion has come a long way in recent times. Lightning fast updates and trend shifts available via social media mean our national sense of style has become even more influenced by the international players. Our distance from the major fashion capitals of the world is all but irrelevant for those who want to stay a(double)breast of the international fashion scene.
That being said, when the opportunity to attend the international menswear epicentre of Pitti Uomo arose this year, I was more than ready to jump on a plane to experience it.
In June I travelled to the world’s premier men’s style event in Florence, Pitti Uomo ’92, thanks to Calvin Klein Watches + Jewelry, Aquila Menswear and Men’s Style Magazine. Essentially a menswear trade show held twice a year in Firenze (“Florence” in the local tongue), brands, designers, fashion buyers, fabric makers, media and menswear personalities from around the globe descend on the cobblestoned streets of this quintessential northern Italian city. It’s fashion week without the catwalks, and street-style strutting is the main event.
As a Pitti Uomo first-timer I had minimal knowledge of what to expect but soon discovered that this crowd take ‘suave’ into the stratosphere.
Approaching the entry gates on the first morning of the four-day event, I was suddenly confronted by a sea of dapper men posing and preening in front of eager street-style photographers snapping their every step. To my left was a distinguished Italian gentleman in a crème linen three piece suit smoking a cigar. At right, a stunning Sudanese couple in identical silk suits threaded with pink pinstripes and matching hats. One-inked up guest opted for simple chinos and a vest with an array of tattoos creating his style statement, another glided by on a baby blue bicycle in the exact same shade as his ensemble.
Suddenly every guy on the street is the best-dressed person you’ve ever seen – a perfectly tailored swath of linen, herringbone, pastel and pocket squares.
With the fashion world watching Florence and playing the who-wore-what game, elements of good-natured competition between the men’s style squad were inevitable… but what really made a profound impact on my Pitti Uomo experience was the spirit of inclusiveness throughout the event. This was a true celebration of personal style and the unique interpretations of that versatile term around the world; regardless of whether you’d travelled from Sydney or Sicily, you were embraced.
And in 2017, Australia was embraced like never before.
For the first time in history, the most promising designers from Australian fashion scene were invited to Pitti Uomo as the style stars of GUEST NATION, a milestone collaboration between Fondazione Pitti Immagine Discovery and The Woolmark Company which saw Chris Ran Lin, Commas, Double Rainbouu, Exinfinitas, Sener Besim, Strateas, Carlucci, P.E Nation and Ten Pieces showcase their new collections on the global stage.
Chatting to P.E. Nation designer and ultimate cool-girl Pip Edwards as she showcased the brand’s new men’s line, it was obvious this event was unlike any back on home soil, “I’ve never seen men striding their style with such pride”, she laughed. “It’s great to have the focus on the boys for once.”
The Australian men’s style contingent also out in force with a serious squad of fashion personalities in attendance including Sam Wines (above, centre), Shaun Birley (above, right), Miles Wharton (Men’s Fashion Blogger), Kurt Kirks (Bloggers Boyfriend) and Roberto Malizia (This Is Malice).
Memorable moments included sunset from the arched bridge of the Ponte Vecchio, a Peroni dinner in the breathtaking 15th century villa ‘Il Salviatino, the awe-inducing architecture of Piazza del Duomo, seeking solace from the scorching heat in the lush vineyards of Tuscany and street style adventures in the new collections from Aquila Menswear and Calvin Klein Watches + Jewelry…
But the true highlight of the week was witnessing the impact Australian style is making on the international fashion scene and how highly our contribution is being regarded on a global scale.