Pitti Uomo kicks off today, and while the #menswear world is buzzing with the hype that comes this time of the year, we thought it'd be the right time to break down exactly what this bi-annual event is.
Aside from being a destination to potentially get snapped by street-style gawds Scott Schuman and Tommy Ton, Pitti Uomo is a place of business. As the men's portion of the Pitti Immagine collection of fashion events, Pitti Uomo is a tradeshow in Florence, Italy that's been around since 1972. It's a four-day market-facing event in which retailers, buyers, and editors come together to view upcoming collections (in this case, Fall 2014).
Most importantly, brands gather under one roof to display a full season (mainly) for buyers, who select the pieces and quantities they wish to order. This is the moment that stores decide what they're going to eventually sell to you, the customer. Once these orders are filled out, the brands spend the next few months producing the correct quantity and they eventually make their way to stores approximately six months later.
Though Pitti Uomo takes place during London Collections: Men (the men's portion of London Fashion Week) and right before Men's Milan Fashion Week, it occupies a different space in the industry than the runway-show-filled fashion weeks. Runway shows are more so about the presentational and theatrical aspect of a brand's aesthetic and direction, whereas Pitti is all about the one-on-one interaction between the brand and the buyer.
Of course, Pitti Uomo has become so much more than just a transactional selling and buying marketplace. At this point, it's a destination for menswear enthusiasts and professionals to gather as a community while perusing clothes from brands both old and new. And yes, there are plenty of new brands, since showing at a tradeshow provides much-needed exposure for a fraction of the cost of producing a runway show.
Pitti Uomo can easily be compared to Capsule or Project, two tradeshows that stateside residents might be more familiar with. But brand-wise, Pitti is much more in favor of your double-monk, double-breasted suit wearing guy, with sprezzy Italian labels like Brunello Cucinelli and Isaia occuping the floor. However, that doesn't mean you won't find an amazing and obscure Japanese brand there as well.
So while you're enjoying the slew of street style galleries that start to invade the Internet over the next few days, remember that the infamous Pitti Wall littered in cigarette buds by the world's most stylish men is much more than a chance to update your Tumblr. It's also the place where today's taste-makers pick what you'll be wearing (or aspiring to wear) about nine months from now.