A NEW BEGINNING: the menswear at PITTI UOMO 86 unravelled.

Text by Marlo Saalmink

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Time after time, one reflects on sartorial dimensions, where do they exist, how can we understand these and where shall we look ahead.  When it comes to menswear, many of us turn to Florence, where the Pitti Uomo salon, serves as a kick off for a long summer season, abreast with collection viewings, editorial meetings and the likelihood of transforming silhouettes. The city is so rich with history, momentum and tactile cultural references, fashion being an integral part of this. Sartorially, Pitti aims to combine contemporary fashion with the irreverence of original artisans and local craftsmen. In this report, we explore some of the new talents of the week, the ones rather overshadowed by the peacock gents, pingpong balls and luxury gentrification, we salute those brazen ones.

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Special attention has to be paid to the notion of craftsmanship, where the focus is redirected to process instead of concept. Most innovative is the collaboration of Alexander Helle and T-Michael, who stand behind Norwegian Rain, a collective of sartorial wonders. Their premises, to shield us of the elements, without compromising on elegance by adding a hefty dose of timeless chic. Functionality is mixed with a selection of prime Italian and Japanese fabrics, uniquely able to perform under extreme circumstances. A moving display of intelligence and development. Another brand, focusing on craftsmanship and development, is The Last Conspiracy. Working from their atmospheric Porto atelier, this Danish brand, works carefully on its collections, each shoe is created with careful attention, to develop truly individual products, all kitted out with prime handpicked leathers.

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Next to tradition, there was room for novelty as well. Crisp and composed, is the work of Mr. Start, the London based mens outfitter. Their collection of crisp summer staples, included lightweight suiting, crisp summer shirting and tailored shorts. Calm and composed, with an easy colour palette, this is an example of where concept and garment seamlessly match. Hooking into this, free agent Nick Wooster hooked up with Italian atelier Lardini, to present a selection of tightly edited suits. Crisp linens, twills and clean shirts were matched with shorts, clean ties and spotless slip-on loafers. Urban and relevant, the collection stands tall without over-shouting the beautiful heritage of Italian tailoring.

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When it came to more expressive endeavors, one had to look at the special guest nation of South Korea, where brands such as J Koo, Westage and ByungMung Seo, showed their individual takes on menswear. Especially ,the latter stood out, showing boxed silhouettes, neoprene jackets and dramatic shapes, all in a monochrome setting. Naturally, a healthy dose of rock and roll was now much needed, provided here in the form of Danish design prodigy Asger Juel Larsen, part of the GQ and Vogue Italia curated pavilion. Asger, mixed strong warrior like coats, with genteel tailoring, sharp denim and crisp shirting. Notable, were his takes on different washes and coatings, thusly allowing garments to morph and age with dignity.

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Pitti, as always marked the start of what is coming and with some of the first weeks of shows behind us now, it also proved its worth as a relevant platform for sampling the seasons offerings in menswear. From Japanese super-tailoring, to brazen overcoats, to inspiring new collaborations to chic modern rebels, it is precisely this mix of eclecticism that makes Pitti a special encounter. As the fair continues to look into settling into its surroundings, this season certainly proves that sartorial history and contemporary fashion, can co-exist irreverently.

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