Florence in the summer is busy and hot. The unparalleled concentration of historic monuments in the city centre draws tourists from far and wide, and the Tuscan sun which beats down on them is relentless.
One week in the middle of June sees the crowd swell even more, as 17,000 passionate menswear enthusiasts arrive for the summer edition of Pitti Uomo.
They somehow manage to remain stylish, while the majority of visitors are wilting under the warmth, and somehow manage to remain focused and presentable while fuelled mostly by Negronis and espresso.
Their last visit was to Pitti 104, and this is the best of what they – and we – saw…
The biggest news of this Pitti edition was that Roman behemoth Fendi was to forgo its usual slot at Milan Men’s Fashion Week to present the new season in Florence instead. The main reason behind this decision was to showcase its spectacular new €50m manufacturing facility, found in the serene district of Bagno a Ripoli in the Tuscan hills. The factory became the venue for the catwalk show; the olive tree-lined garden on its rooftop the location for the subsequent reception. This ultra-modern facility is usually home to 125 employees handcrafting the brand’s signature leather goods but for one night only it became the playground for the A-List guests invited to have a first look at the collection before dancing to Diplo at the afterparty.
The show itself was a triumph, the workbenches – which were all still fully operational, the artisans seemingly nonplussed by the spectacle – serving as the ideal backdrop for a collection which blended workwear with classic tailoring and streetwear with opulent, flowing coats.
The tailoring was cut with plenty of room to move, showing that the switch to more informal versions of suits is still very much in full swing, and natural earthy colours were used throughout. Textured knits in green and gold provided some slight summer layering, and many looks layered the more formal pieces with casual work shirts and overalls.
High fashion may sometimes seem to champion the individual craftspeople behind each garment far less than bespoke tailoring – this show was designed to redress that imbalance somewhat. As the last look left the runway, those workbenches suddenly began to empty as people downed tools to follow Silvia Venturini Fendi down the catwalk and take their much-deserved bow. The joy was obvious on their faces, and this all-too-rare recognition was a wonderful climax to a magnificent show.
Back at the Fortezza da Basso, another Italian brand was providing enough heat from its tailoring to match the temperatures outside. Stile Latino has been a fixture of this festival for a while now, and its super-luxe ready-to-wear collections are always a highlight.
For SS24 expect typically bold colours from its jackets and trousers, styled with strong paisley print shirts. Slightly unusual for the flamboyant Attolini family were the reserved polos, seen in gentle cream with green accents and a mustard yellow.
The one constant in each of its collections is the outstanding quality – the silk and cashmere blend fabrics in the polos are exquisite – and attention to detail. They may not come cheap, but the highest quality always costs and Stile Latino clothes are for the true connoisseur.
Crockett & Jones
Footwear is as important in summer as any other time of the year – poor choices in that department can ruin a holiday if your walking becomes uncomfortable, and nobody wants that.
In step Crockett & Jones (pardon the pun) with a range of unlined loafers that will keep you cool regardless of how far your evening strolls take you. A sleek loafer has the ability to finish any outfit, transitioning from smart to casual and back again with ease, and the
Crockett & Jones penny and tassel editions have been popular for many years for a reason. Fresh new colourways revitalise the offering a little, but they are in no way broken so need no fixing. A real summer essential.
Swedish shirtmaker Stenströms has been in business since 1899, and has become rather good at their craft. As is to be expected from a summer collection, linen and lightweight cotton was the main focus of the shirting here, presented in a range of styles to fit both business and casual wear.
Traditional styles with cutaway collars and reserved blue colourways were well represented, offering comfort as well as professionalism for those of us who still have to attend the office during heatwaves, but the showstoppers were bright block linens, in vibrant yellows and greens, and confident floral prints. These are excellent shirts, and the range is large enough to cover all your summer needs.
Johnstons of Elgin
The question of how to market cashmere clothing in the summer is not an easy one to answer, but Johnstons of Elgin has plenty of creativity.
Cashmere is actually an exceptionally breathable fabric, excellent at temperature regulation, and their summer range is full of cashmere blends with more traditional summer fabrics like linen and cotton.
These are then used to create light polos and sweaters, cardigans for when the evenings get a little cool, and a wonderful range of scarves which are ideal for keeping the wind off when sitting on a breezy beach.
The summers of Mediterranean cities may never cool enough in the evening to warrant them, but up here in England they do. Particularly appropriate when a sea breeze begins to interrupt an al-fresco dinner on a UK coastline, these summer cashmeres should be as essential as the winter ones.
True luxury is found when even your basic garments are luxurious. Sunspel is best known for perfecting humble items like the T-shirt and boxer short, elevating them with quality fabric and construction to a level rarely found elsewhere.
Its SS24 collection continues that proud history by looking back at the archives, digging out patterns and styles from the 1950s and reinventing them for the modern age. A collaboration with renowned designer Nigel Cabourn is at the heart of this – his capsule collection was among the best things on show all week.
It’s not big, it’s not flashy, but it is excellent, and even the foundations of your wardrobe deserve to be excellent.
The Panama hat is coming more and more back into fashion each passing summer. Modern men are again realising that not only do hats protect from harsh sun beating into your brain all afternoon, they also look magnificent while doing it.
Christys' Panamas are among the best on the market, but the brand has also introduced a range of summer caps which use cotton and light summer wools to keep the head cool with a more relaxed and contemporary look. If you prefer something a little more modern than the classic wide-brimmed Panama, these are the hats for you.
Alexander Kraft Monte Carlo
Pitti Uomo is a little like the Edinburgh Festival, in that a lot of the best finds are actually on the Fringe.
Alexander Kraft threw probably the party of the week to launch the new collection from his eponymous tailoring line, Alexander Kraft Monte Carlo, and every piece is a winner. For those unfamiliar with Mr Kraft, have a look at his Instagram – he’s a man whose business successes are only matched by his sartorial ones, and such is his love of dressing well he has created a line of clothes which offer bespoke-level detailing at extremely reasonable prices.
There’s nothing too flashy here, just elegant, simple tailoring cut from the finest fabrics in classic styles. Understated colours in linen and cotton make up the core of the summer line, and will keep you looking sharp all through the warmer months.
Just opposite the famous Palazzo Vecchio, and through some of the largest doors I’ve ever opened in my life, was the Bennett Winch showroom.
Its luggage has developed a fine reputation over the last few years, and with good reason, but the new Storm Grey Suede versions they presented at in Florence are a new level of excellence for them.
The blend of style and durability the brand has managed to create really is something to behold. When you’re heading off on holiday there’s no point curating a wonderful outfit only to ruin it with a terrible bag – Bennett Winch has the answer.