Simon Crompton Luke Carby Pitti

 
As soon as the storm troopers arrived, you knew it was all over.

Things had looked bad on Wednesday, when half a dozen men in deer masks had stood around in the square, posing. The lycra suits that trooped through at midday were also pretty terrible, but at least they didn’t stay long. It was the storm troopers that were the last straw.

This year, some of the brands at Pitti Uomo took advantage of the massed photographers to dress up models and parade them outside. The deer-masked-men were, I hope, one example. There was also an exhibition of ‘Pitti people’ and a Pitti walk. The self-referential nature of the fair, which accelerated last year when the building was decorated with ‘street’ photography outside, seemed to be reaching a freakish zenith (or nadir…).

It didn’t help that Bread & Butter – the more casual-menswear fair in Berlin – had been cancelled, sending more people to Pitti. The Italian government had also pumped in money (and announced another €36 million for this year). Even first thing on Tuesday morning, the square outside Padiglione Centrale was packed, with bizarre little dances going between photographers trying to get a clear line of sight at Ieluzzi or Rubinacci. 

When two storm troopers and Darth Vader turned up to get in on the action, it crossed the line into ridiculous.

And yet. We poke fun at the Pitti circus (the circus is outside, the fair inside), yet it remains the highest concentration of well-dressed men in the world. In even the most ridiculous outfits (outside of film costumes) there is something to like: the colour of a hat, the line of a shoe, the texture of a jacket. There are some fantastically elegant dressers, doing their thing in quiet security. 

I’ll put together some of my favourite looks next week, and put them on the Pinterest repository of such things. But in the meantime, it’s worth saying that the circus has some upsides – particularly compared to the stupidity of the fashion shows. 

There were some nice things at London Collections: Men. There was the Rake’s opening party, of course, and Anda and her team put together a great event for Savile Row at Apsley House. But the few shows I went to featured less interesting clothing than Pitti, on models that didn’t come close to fitting in them, surrounded by hundreds of enthusiastic and presumably blind supporters. 

Pitti has a long way to go before it’s as bad as that. And inside the show, there is the same lovely line-up of craftsmen and entrepreneurs, trying to communicate the story of the products they love. Perhaps I am a Pitti apologist. Perhaps I am overly fond of the sun, stones and silliness. But Pitti is our show, it’s doing well, and I’m happy for that.

(Pictured, with Luke in grey-flannel Edward Sexton suit. The shirt is pale grey, making a nice alternative to white; grey also goes particularly nicely with burgundy.)

Image: Beyond Fabric

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Mac

The voice of reason as always! While there is much to treasure in London, I also found most of the menswear shows highly disappointing. That’s fashion, I suppose. All hype and parties and little substance.

I don’t go to Pitti. Am I right in saying that it’s a trade fair, whereas LCM is a fashion affair? No contest there then!

Correct me if I’m wrong, but is the Savile Row presentation at LCM the only bespoke showcase of its type in the world? If it is, then it’s something to treasure. It’s such a tragedy that precious little has been written on it so far.

LCM has quickly become a powerhouse again in menswear terms. It would be a shame if it wasted the opportunity with badly-cut, poorly-designed clothes as you mentioned.

Maybe the answer is for the fantastic British craftmen and women to detach themselves from the vacuous hyperbole of the fashion world and establish their own Pitti-type fair? We can dream can’t we?

Oliuver

Love the ES suit, will you be doing a review on it?

Colonel Hughe Jarrdonne

Hi Simon,

Have you reviewed your Edward Sexton suit as yet?? I was always a huge fan of Tommy Nutter’s style.

James

Simon,

If you have time, I have a question on casual shirts. I frequently wear a shirt and jacket without a tie (usually with slim cut flannel trousers, chinos (blue, dark green or burgundy) or jeans – a particular thank you for introducing me to a world beyond the latter.

One area I feel I’m lacking in understanding (and in the wardrobe department) are shirts. At work, I wear slim cut poplin with french cuffs. At the weekend, I tend to wear blue, white, or subtly striped pink/blue oxford shirts – always button down with button cuffs.

When wearing either of these, with a jacket, though, I sometimes feel too casual (in particular in the evening). The texture of an oxford shirt and thickness of the cotton does not look right with smart flannels or other textured wool trousers and a jacket.

What would you recommend for casual shirting? What do you wear yourself when not wearing a tie. I cant seem to find a sweet spot of relatively thin (I assume thinner to some extent equates with smarter) button down shirts to be worn with jackets or under knitwear. Is this what you would recommend?

Thanks, as ever, for your wonderful work.

James

Nicolas Stromback

Simon!

Do you know when the next Pitti Uomo is? They are twice a year right?

Nico

Nicolas Stromback

Thanks!

FLW

Simon-

Thank you for writing this. I think it was badly needed as opinions on Pitti seem to be souring a bit and, as you have noted, the spectacle continues to go over-the-top. Your point regarding finding something to like in most every outfit is especially well-taken. As we approach nearly a decade of intense menswear coverage it can be easy to write off Pitti photos as “Luca being Luca” or “Lino being Lino” and scoff at their predictability and- did we ever think it would happen?- staleness. Rather than rolling our eyes at another meme or trope, we should focus instead on what we like. Taking inspiration in bits as we find it is part of what the whole online style community is supposed to be about, after all.

Oh, and you are correct, anyone that finds Pitti shallow or blown out of proportion should go to more fashion shows. THAT is shallow and overblown.

Thanks again.

Per Jensen

Hi

Which camera did you use for the photos on Pinterest?

J

I have mixed feelings about it.

Its great to see so many people in nice suits but at the same time, it is far, far too self-referential now. You have cameramen lined up to take pics of ‘famous’ people rather than well dressed people.

The vanity of the people who hang around the infamous ‘Pitti Wall’ is simply breathtaking.

There is nothing wrong with being confident in yourself and liking what you wear, but the idea of standing around waiting to be photographed – I’m sorry but for any man age 21+ that is very sad and degrading.

I’m pretty confident in going up to people I recognise, so I approached a few guys and said “hey I have seen you on instagram I like your suit (or whatever)”. It was pretty disappointing to speak to some of them in person as their eyes were scanning the horizon looking for cameramen as you spoke to them. I’d be surprised if they even went into look at any of the stands. I mean really if you’re that desperate to get into a fashion mag, it’s easy enough, you just have to pay, I mean ‘take to lunch’, the right journalist…

Someone else who is ‘famous’ in the Pitti sense at least, was a really nice genuine guy which was a very pleasant surprise. If anything its the wannabees who have no real connection to the industry and do nothing else other than post instagram pics of their lives who were the let down to speak to ‘in real life’.

I think I would prefer it more if there were a cull of people who have no real professional reason to be there I’m afraid.

David Craggs

I find J’s comment interesting and have more than a little empathy with his view.
Everybody browsing this site has more than a passing interest in men’s clothes.
That said, as somebody who started his style interest as a mod in ’67 and has finished up as the elegantly ageing disheveled wreck that he is today, dressing well was always first and foremost for myself — it makes me feel good — and secondly to attract members of the opposite sex. It succeeded there and stopped with my wife.
Never, in a month of Sundays, did I dress like a peacock with the hope of some idiot photographing me for a blog or a fashion magazine and those that do frankly look ridiculous.
The best complement you can get is when the waitress or receptionist says; “I love your suit sir”. That will do for me.
Frankly I think these Pitti peacocks running around in their Pee-wee Herman outfits are for the read and laugh file.
Style forever — fashion never and don’t confuse activity with progress would be my advice. The evolution is subtle.
Regards,
David

DE

Another good post, Simon. You have always promoted adding your own details and individual nuances to your wardrobe (the braiding on the Gieves & Hawkes pea coat is a good example). Where in your opinion do you think the line should be drawn between sublime accoutrements (like the braid your pea coat) and some of the incredible over accessorising that can be seen among the Pitti peacocks? Are there any rules, or is it just that ‘less is more’?

P

You look good, Simon. Nice jacket lapel and those raised shoulder rings (I forgot the term). Your eyeglasses have a nice horn or bone or wood material, and the shape has character.

Stephen

Hi Simon, is it worth adding that underneath the extravagance Pitti is still really about the business of fashion, which in Italy, remains a vital part of the economy. Whilst the excess may seem strange to some it is worth remembering that Italy has given us the Comedia Dell`Arte, Opera and the Venetian Carnivale, to Italians a sense of theatre and fashion go hand in hand.

Jerrell

I do agree that the copycat aspect of Pitti is becoming a bit tiresome, for instance, seeing legions of men who appear to have pre-coordinated their look. But I see the attendant photojournalism as a net positive.

Somewhere out there are budding i-Gents who will see these photographs and think, “Wow, these guys look incredible!” and maybe they will find inspiration in the Pitti peacock crowd. As their tastes grow, they will discover THIS website and refine their own style, perhaps leaning towards a more understated elegance.

Or they’ll just begin to imitate Simon’s look, and that would be fine too!