‘What’s the deal with Pitti Uomo?’

…an ignorant man once asked.

Unless, you know, sour grapes, IF you are a guy working in men’s fashion or having a slight interest in menswear, it’s only fair (pun intended) you should know what Pitti Uomo is and what it represents in this grand, but somehow concentrated sartorial world.

Since researching for images and posting about OOTDs back in the day, I started developing a desire to attend Pitti and to get to know the people behind brands I admire and the men promoting those brands.

And this season, after (too) many years, it finally happened, when, being part of the Global MBA in Design, Fashion and Luxury Goods at Bologna Business School, we were sent on a field trip to Firenze.

It’s tempting to write about how much I love Florence and how enchanting my first trip here was, but I will save my words for another blog post, most probably a ‘One day in…’ kind, just like the one I wrote about Bologna.

But back to Pitti Uomo: needless to say, this is not an event where people come for fun, to wear their best outfits ostentatiously and hang out telling jokes and smoking their Toscanello just cause it’s cool (even though some may think otherwise in respect to the Pitti Peacocks) – people come here for work. The expo version of a fashion week, this is the meeting place of fashion buyers, designers, sales representatives, creative directors and why not, influencers all around the world.

This, of course, won’t keep anyone away from eating good amounts of bistecca fiorentina and drinking delicious Tuscan wines, sipping on Negronis for aperitivo (and not only) and attending a party here and there. I mean, you’re in Florence… why miss out on the good things in life?

Big menswear and men’s accessories brands from Italy and the rest of the world pay quite a hefty price to exhibit their upcoming collections for four days, biannually, at Fortezza da Basso – a place where they create and consolidate relationships with fashion buyers, facilitating the exchange of information, contacts, knowledge that would otherwise be difficult and maybe more costly to arrange.

As a first timer – and if I was looking for clickbait titles I would have named this post Pitti Uomo – Losing my virginity, paraphrasing Sir Richard Branson – there were moments and certain stands where I didn’t feel necessarily welcomed and where I was given a pejorative look, but if I step back and don’t take it personally, it’s quite understandable for two main reasons: it was the last day of the exhibition and I assume that by the end of the fair most people are drained of energy and become bored and irritable, and second, they didn’t know me!

I mean, you can’t go to the hottest club in town and expect the doorman to shake your hand and ask how you’ve been or the bartender to compliment you on your new haircut!

Pitti Uomo is a caste and you’re not going to be let in overnight! Like many other things in life it requires time and you must earn your place by showing up, being trustworthy, making good work, maintaining your reputation and cultivating your network – of course that being seen in the company of the right people helps.

‘But is it worth it?’

– one could ask himself/herself.

I don’t know.

Again, like many things in life, YOU will have to figure that out for yourself.

Silviu Tolu at Pitti Uomo 97
Yours truly. Photo by @thestoryalist

A few more things before I wrap this up:

1) If you can only be there for one day and you’re planning to visit many companies, I suggest you to wear a pair of sneakers or your most comfortable shoes – you’ll do well over your 10,000 steps, so maybe it’s worth thinking about that when building your attire.

2) My favorite stand was Lardini – depicting an exquisite trip on the Trans-siberian. Very nicely done! Other notable brands: the great Neapolitan tailor Orazio Luciano, De Petrillo, Carmina Shoemaker, Drake’s – of course, L.B.M. 1911 and the always grande Brunello Cucinelli (they were many more amazing exhibitors, but these are the ones I remember right now).

3) I am really happy I was able to take Marconi, our MOTA leather briefcase with me on this trip. Maybe one day we will be able to exhibit at Pitti as well.

Pitti Uomo 97 by Silviu Tolu
Pitti Uomo 97 by Silviu Tolu for Bologna Business School

Thanks for reading and until next time, stay stylish!