A few weeks ago, Shaun, Luke, Gary and Benedict attended Pitti Uomo, the menswear tradeshow which takes place within the Fortezza da Basso, a 16-century fort in Florence, Italy. It’s quite the stage for quite a hectic few days of back-to-back meetings, plenty of socialising, heavy meals and late nights. We’re not complaining, though, as it was a welcomed change of pace and scenery from our operations at home in the UK, and we came away feeling pleased with what we achieved.
Over the years, the team had individually visited Pitti in different roles - Shaun and Gary representing exhibiting brands, while Benedict attended as a fashion editor for publications. However, this season was significant as it marked the inaugural attendance of Studio Graft as a four-member team.
It was a necessary team of four, too, as five of our clients were in town, and all for different reasons; menswear retailer Trunk Clothiers were on their seasonal buying trip; Altea continued to demonstrate that it’s a leading contemporary brand in Italy with one of the most popular stands inside the Fortezza; outerwear maestros Valstar weren’t showing this season, but they were in town and it was great to see them as they’re one of our oldest clients; Christys’ London had its most impressive SS24 collection on display, including a range of Made in England caps (a first for the brand); Awling attended for the first time to experience the tradeshow with the view of making their debut next year.
It's the social aspect of Pitti that makes it so special. Being in Florence for a couple of days allows you to get to know the people behind the brands that you work with a bit better, as well as other retailers, brands, fashion editors, influencers, etc., something that just wouldn't happen if you were only to meet in a big congress centre.
— Mats Klingberg, founder of Trunk Clothiers.
We also had the pleasure of meeting plenty of new people and brands too. On Tuesday evening, we attended the Swedish magazine Plaza Uomo's cocktail party in collaboration with Stenströms, which, in many ways, kicks off the week. It was great catching up with the entire Anderson & Sheppard team (an old client of ours) and seeing many a familiar face.
With a heady mind on Wednesday morning, Gentleman's Journal kindly invited us to take part in a leisurely 5km run up and down the Arno with Tracksmith Running, a lifestyle running brand hailing from New England, USA. The run culminated in a look at the collection and some very generous gifting, for which the team is extremely grateful (the Horizon tees were a treat to hit the cobbled streets in, made all the more comfortable with the Eliot runners on-foot).
Later that evening, we dropped in at the WMBrown party hosted by founder Matt Hranek at Harry's Bar The Garden. While heavy rain in the afternoon dampened the parade somewhat, the spirits were, in both senses of the word, high. Thank you, Matt, for having us—you do throw quite the party!
Back to work. Overall, the attendance at Pitti Uomo this season was high – it had seemingly bounced back from the dwell periods caused by Covid-19, and brands and attendees were all saying how great it was to ‘have Pitti back’. There was an undeniable sense of optimism.
As a British brand it was good to see a stellar line up of British heritage brands such as John Smedley, Johnstons of Elgin and Christys’. Would have been nice to see more new or smaller British brands who are doing interesting things and taking innovative approaches to design or manufacturing.
— Chris Goldstraw, founder of Awling.
At the classic end of the spectrum, the prevailing theme was a continuing shift towards ‘quiet luxury’, a mood predicated by momentous, world-changing events in recent years that have moved away from logomania and brashness. Indeed, brands are continuing to produce clothing that’s lauded for being subdued in neutral colours and luxe blended materials, such as featherlight knitted T-shirts made from cashmere and silk blended yarns, with Italian labels such as Brunello Cucinelli and Kiton spearheading the move.
Within the contemporary space, colour and texture were rife, and the cuts certainly felt a lot more languid and relaxed than what’s come before, with plenty of crochet going around. Some highlights include SMR Days, Kardo and our client Altea. Again, the overall mood was a continued move towards a sense of freedom and sustainable manufacturing ethics.
The outerwear section at Pitti was the most exciting, simply because the great outdoors holds a fond place within the team’s hearts. The footwear department was strong, too, which was pleasing for the team as we’ve all individually become extremely fond of Goodyear-welted shoes in recent years. Northampton’s finest, Crockett & Jones, Edward Green and Cheaney were all there in force, further underlining that the British do footwear best. That said, we also had great conversations with the kind French folk at Paraboot and Jacques Solovaire, who have different design ethoses than traditional English makers.
With heavy luggage and inevitably long delays ahead of us, we returned to Pisa airport feeling positive about the productivity of the previous two days. It was certainly interesting being at a show like Pitti as an agency (rather than a brand or media publication), as they are certainly few and far between. Roll on, January!