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Tailored Thoughts On: The Pitti Uomo Man

This month, Huntsman Cutter and resident Essential Journal columnist, Matthew Gonzalez, ponders the parading peacocks of Pitti

Words by Matthew GONZALEZ

January has come and gone, which means one thing in the world of international menswear: Pitti Uomo is finally behind us. Most people forget that Pitti is first and foremost a trade show for men’s clothing manufacturers, primarily because it has been transformed into a headline event for the world’s fashionistas to parade around the streets of Florence peacocking to their heart’s delight. This is probably in the hopes that they will be photographed and published for all the world to see. It’s easy to laugh, roll one’s eyes, or even loathe these 21st century Macaronis, and for the most part we do. However, as easy as it is for us to mock the over-the-top sensationalism that is some of their clothing, they actually may contribute more to sartorial discourse than simply an Instagram story. 

Not everyone who attends Pitti dresses outlandishly. There are many who simply attend the trade show. Many of those who do attend, manage to dress both eccentrically and stylishly. So, instead of focusing on the specifics of what they are wearing, let’s meditate on what their clothing means for the rest of us. At its periphery, fashion is a spectacle. One only needs to look at the world of haute couture for evidence of this. When clothing is worn as ‘art,’ it is at its most expressive, and its subsequent trickle down effect into pop culture is observable. 

Fashion is a cyclical combination of self expression, a fleeting sense of nostalgia and innovation. It’s why we still have a love affair with the clothing from the 1940s, 50s and 60s, and not with the 1840s, 50s and 60s. Without testing the boundaries of what is acceptable to wear, clothing would be stagnant and we would all probably still be wearing togas or doublets. One of the reasons it is easy to mock the chaps at Pitti is because the evolution of men’s clothing moves at a snail’s pace. Women’s clothing over the past 100 years has continually pushed the boundaries. 

‘At its periphery, fashion is a spectacle…When clothing is worn as ‘art,’ it is at its most expressive, and its subsequent trickle down effect into pop culture is observable.’

Whether it was Josephine Baker going nearly topless and wearing her famed banana skirt back in 1920’s Paris or Lady Gaga wearing a dress made entirely of meat, women have always been bold enough to test the limits of acceptable attire. Meanwhile men, myself included, have by comparison remained relatively safe with our clothing. We, in large part, pine over the bespoke dinner suit that has been passed down by our great grandfathers or lust after a standard dark navy or charcoal suit that is on the runways of our preferred menswear designer. 

The multi coloured ensembles of the Pitti man are a stark contrast to what we traditionally define as the acceptable norms for menswear. They are at the forefront of masculine expressiveness. Without the unabashed garishness of the Pitti man combining bold colours, oversize prints and multiple textures, menswear would continue to be the monochromatic uniform it once was in the early part of the 20th century. 

These days, the boldest of men in the city might have the confidence to incorporate just one of those elements into his clothing, but that is in large part due to the fact there are men from Pitti who have been pushing the boundaries for years. The trickle down effect is very much at play here. At Pitti, clothing begins as art. Although the clothing is absurd and perhaps even a little shocking, after years of seeing men dress so boldly the rest of us become less shocked. We, the observers of this sartorial absurdity, begin to dissect and filter out elements that we like from these outfits and slowly we incorporate them into our own clothing. Thus, fashion continues on its path of evolution. 

As much as we laugh at the chaps at Pitti, they are exploring new ways men can express themselves through their clothing. Will all of it catch on? I certainly hope not. But as they see men defying societal expectations of how we should dress, the average chap on the street might begin to feel empowered and to become a little more expressive with his clothing. So while most of us will never be Pitti Uomo peacocks, we should all be thankful that they exist. MG