- By Nadia LaMantia - It was my first time attending Pitti Immagine Uomo, “the world’s most important platform for men’s clothing and accessory collections and for launching new projects in men’s fashion.” As a resident, however, I was no stranger to the fair’s impact on Italy and the fashion industry. 1072 brands and collections are on display. Chic movers and shakers from around the world descend on Florence every January for the men’s fashion week, intensifying the already culturally diverse city. Nearly 40 percent of the participants are foreign. Austrians can be heard speaking Italian, the English conversing in Japanese, and even French expressing themselves in Spanish. The international language however, is fashion.
The spectacle is something like a sport in which the different teams display their talents (at their respective booths) in the hopes that prospective buyers will become their cheerleaders this upcoming season. Every uniform is well represented. Classic urban and traditional culturally inspired looks compete with gaudy and futuristic styles. There are men in skirts. No shortage of spunk to be found on this field.
Here, everyone is making a statement. Everyone wants to be seen and heard- and face to face networking is the key to success. In Italy, connections are made old school- over caffé. Scanning the horizon at the fair, the vendors’ faces are weathered. It’s hard to tell if they haven’t slept because they had 10 too many caffés with clients the day before, or because they were out late partying and enjoying the event’s famous nightlife. Either way, it’s all in a day’s work for the sellers and buyers, who will likely meet again soon, as Pitti Uomo is just one of Italy’s important annual fashion fairs.
Solid face to face networking in Florence is crucial to spring boarding a product into great possibilities by creating relationships with those in the industry (and insuring you have a slew of people to drink caffé with at the next fair). It is at these events that artisans rely on the industry’s keen eye to commend and keep their skills alive by purchasing their products, and the exposure can make all the difference to small or struggling companies. Globalization brings buyers and sellers together but simultaneously dishes out more and cheaper competition.
It is fitting that such an event’s backdrop is a Renaissance city. The art of fashion is constantly evolving, and Pitti Uomo is a glimpse into the future. The victorious trends that immerge from it will soon be displayed in magazines and our favorite stores, but in addition to that I see hope that creativity and personal communication continue to thrive.