Written by Lucas Pantoja
It’s officially a brand new day in Florence and I awake on the cold sofa in a friend’s apartment. With little time, I throw on my garms and wrap myself in the warmest of scarves to battle the cool winds that inhabit the city. After scarfing down a brioche and a shot of espresso I hop in a taxi and it’s back to the Fiera.
Once entering the trade show, now at an earlier time than for day one, I was met with an even more overwhelming amount of pocket ties, fedoras, cross body bags, animal prints, and funky mustaches all dancing around me as I wove through crowds in search of interviews and inspiring brands to shed light on.
I first met with Borsalino, the historical Italian purveyors of fine hats. I for one have never considered myself a hat person, (besides during a gross high school obsession with New Eras and snapbacks that died quickly) but I found myself taken away by the amount of care and thought put into the products that Borsalino’s crafts.
Each hat takes 7 or so weeks to craft and they are all manufactured by traditional techniques within the 162 year old company’s antique factory in Piemonte. After chatting with the brand’s CGD (Comercial Global Director) Gabriella Di Carlo, I left feeling enlightened and inspired by a brand which has stayed alive for so long selling hats, and not giving up on their tradition or abandoning their true DNA.
Next I stopped by the YATAY booth, for those unfamiliar with the brand — YATAY is a sustainable Italian based sneaker company that is now launching their very first collection after developing the project for three years. As the brand is still so young, this was an introduction to the brand for myself and what I discovered were upcycled sneakers composed of entirely recycled materials and bio-based resin.
Minimalist in design, but complex in their composition the sneakers are built to meet their wearers needs. With a specially constructed interior their creative director Umberto de Marco instructed me that socks or no socks, the kicks can be beaten up all summer and refrain from bacterial build up and alarming stenches. Leaving I felt that I hadn’t seen the last of YATAY and I look forward to what the brand’s innovations will bring in the oncoming future.
Once leaving the booth I continued my time exploring the fairgrounds and visiting a number of different brands to analyze what kind of products they’re bringing into the world. Some of the brands which resonated with me the most from my excursion included: Yuketen and their impeccable arrangement of leather crafted work boots, Ermanno Gallomini’s skillful reconstruction and attentive painting to garments, and Serapian’s luxurious hand-woven leather techniques — which they demonstrated live at their booth.
Once finishing out my day at the Fiera with a visit to the cocktail party held by Redaway, I dialed up a taxi and stopped by the Loretta Caponi flagship to have a chat with the COO and grandson of Loretta Caponi herself — Guido Conti. What I found as I stepped into the flagship (one of only two Loretta Caponi flagships to exist) was a space decorated with such nostalgia and luxury that I’d felt transported into a storybook manor.
Royalty seating, fine prosecco, dated decor and paintings styled around the interior, the multiple rooms all had a different story to tell: including a nursery room dedicated solely to child products. After getting a tour of the shop and the atelier that is apart of it, I chatted with Guido who educated me on the company’s story and what the brand’s perspective is looking into the future. He explained to me how important it is for the brand, that every product they sell is truly connected to their family and the atelier.
I thanked Guido and the fine people at Loretta Caponi before downing a glass of prosecco and heading to a cocktail event held by the friendly family of Canadian winter coat specialists Nobis.
We drank, indulged in the fine delicacies Florence had to offer, (the pappa al pomodoro was spectacular) and chatted about the different styles we’d seen around Pitti: from middle aged men with canes, to dudes strolling around in baggy pants with Supreme hoodies.
On my walk back to the apartment, macbook in one hand and personal pizza in the other — I thought about whether I’d found any of the sincerity I was looking for. I certainly encountered a handful of brands which all seemed to be doing everything but abandoning their values or getting lazy with their products, all wanting the most for their customers through quality time-consuming production.
It makes sense, that if there’s any place to go searching for honest fashion, Pitti Uomo wouldn’t disappoint — but in actuality the low-key Japanese and Italian brands that set up booths aren’t who tire me. Instead it’s the larger commercial beasts in fashion and the naive consumers: some of which whom I’d seen walking the grounds of the trade show today. If anything, it’s the smaller brands and designers that I’ve found at Pitti and around Florence who’ve kept my fashion spirit high.