So, another Pitti has been and gone. Both myself and The Jackal’s Style Director had a quick whip around the show this year, and, as outlined in our last set of Pitti reflections, we saw clients, chatted with brands and made sure it was a productive trip. This piece isn’t going to be about the hordes of show-offs who continue to swarm to the fair simply to sit on that concrete wall and have their photograph taken, but it is going to be about what they’re still choosing to wear.
Before we steam headlong into sartorial oblivion, let’s start with some positives. This Pitti, we saw fewer frightful colours, fewer silly hats and for the most part, less affectation. More men are embracing a softer, neutral colour palette and dressing tonally, which you’ll know if you’re a regular reader is something we’ve advocated from day one. Tan, taupe, ecru, cream and soft charcoal browns (as well as plenty of tobacco linen tailoring) punctuated this year’s show. Men were wearing less blue and grey in favour of warm neutral tones, and fewer dark, harsh colours, too.
‘Truly stylish men are dressing down, looking relaxed and casual. The faux-Neapolitan thing has never looked less original, or more passé’
But, if the peacocks are finally retreating, they’re being replaced with another breed, which I call the faux-Neapolitan. These individuals are menswear enthusiasts (which is a good thing), they obsess over vintage fashion plates, tie-knots and the thickness of their turn-ups. And, for the purposes of Pitti Uomo, they arrive wearing an unstructured suit; chambray spread collar shirt; drain-pipe, flat-front, low-rise trousers and naff monkstraps. It’s a look that’s been sported, almost ubiquitously, for approaching 10 years now – and we couldn’t be more tired of it.
Here’s why. In the last 18 months, very slowly but steadily shining through the spalla camicia obsessed crowds, there’s been a microcosm of men who’ve done something different, and who are moving things forward. They’re taking louche tailoring and dressing it down – throwing off ties and tired collars, embracing richer shapes, camp shirts, drapey fabrics, wide-leg trousers and luxe sneakers. These men are heroes; Tony Madsen-Sylvester, Saman Amel, Jamie Ferguson, Tom Stubbs, Milad Abedi, Alessandro Squarzi, Ethan Newton and more besides. Google these names if you’re not sure who they are – their personal style is fascinating.
The fact is this: truly stylish men are dressing down, looking more relaxed and more casual. The whole faux-Neapolitan suit and tie thing has never looked less original, or more passé. Striped shirt, printed tie with blades worn back-to-front, skinny trousers, flowery pocket hanky. That look, I think, is done.
‘The Neapolitan look has its place. But, at this point, it needs someone to treat it differently’
Now, a few qualifiers here, before someone threatens to garrotte me with a repp stripe tie. Of course, Neapolitan tailoring has its place in menswear. It’s comfortable to wear and a natural go-to for many stylish men. It’s also a world-leading product, and I’ve no doubt it will stay that way. But, at this point in the menswear lifecycle it needs someone to treat it differently. Brands like Saman Amel are working wonders at this, taking soft Italian tailoring and removing the ‘sprezzatura’ – making it clean-cut, cool and contemporary. Drake’s is doing this too; the house has always favoured an Italian cut, but Drake’s treats its tailoring with irreverence, and mixes so many design influences into its aesthetic that it’s practically impossible to wear a Drake’s suit without an inventive or slightly rebellious quality coming through. Spoiler: there’s an off-white denim suit coming next summer that will blow your mind.
And that’s the point. Today, suits look sexy when they’re not worn as a uniform – when they’re broken apart, roughed up a little and kept very deliberately sleek – to fit in with the modern world, rather than to make a dandified, affected statement. I’ve spent the last six months trying to wear suits like I’ve spent 72 hours partying at Studio 54, slept in a doorway and walked home at 3pm for a Bloody Mary and a restorative cigarette. I don’t expect that look to be to everyone’s taste, but it feels relevant and appropriate for the world we’re moving through today. It’s also just a bit different – an experiment, if you will. There was a time when I lived in three-piece suits and pin-collars, but times change, and style should be allowed to evolve.
So, Pitti-going fashionistas of the world, I implore you for all our sakes, do something different next season. Get your favourite Neapolitan suit out of the wardrobe, and dress it down. Aim to blend in, not stand out. Style isn’t affected, and it isn’t an exercise in showing off. It’s about time we all learned that lesson – for good.