Menswear from a land down under.
Pitti Uomo is probably the most competitive men’s fashion week on the planet. Twice a year, hundreds of buyers, journalists, bloggers and enthusiasts descend upon Florence (aka Firenze), to sample the best classic clothes the world has to offer. The cool guys get through the doors, see the shows, and go to lunch with Scott Schumann, while the leftovers wander aimlessly around the Fortezza Da Basso desperately trying to attract the attention of street style photographers.
Naturally, the competition for that attention is very intense, almost primal. Not only are the fashionistos there, you’ve also got all the OGs: from the Italian cognoscenti to the Japanese buying contingents. In other words, the guys who taught us everything they know about how to dress.
So how the hell did the Australians fare at Pitti Uomo 94?
For the most part, pretty well.
Australians are always easy to pick out, partly because our eye for colour is so distinct. Where the Japanese tend to opt for subtle, clever combos (think a club collar shirt instead of a contrast banker’s), Australians can’t help but peacock just a little (luckily, with more restraint than the crazies) and it’s always refreshing to see Aussies interpret global trends like nobody else.
Southern Italian style has been a huge influence on #menswear since the early tumblr days and Australians have caught up. The more traditionally minded guys like Sebastian McFox, Homie Yang & Jack Liang of Trunk Tailors, and Steve Calder stuck to lightly structured tailoring in continental linens that make everything look easy. The lines of Southern Italian tailoring are perfect for Australians – capturing the informality we live and breath with a stylishness that we’re slowly getting used to.
Their dressed-down casual fits also spoke to classic sartorial influences. Sebastian rocked a linen safari jacket over a faded grey breton-stripe tee and pleated ChadProm denim trousers. Meanwhile, Steve Calder [below] went for a similar fit, replacing the safari with a washed-denim jacket instead.
I can’t discuss Italian-Australian style however without mentioning Patrick Johnson of P.Johnson Tailors, the king of modern Australian sartorial style. This year, Pat wore a sand coloured, camp-collar overshirt over a preppy linen candy striped shirt – creating a look that combined the elegance of Southern Italian style with the insouciance of the Bondi beach bum. Also notice how the colour of his accessories echo the tones of his overshirt. It’s a style that so effortless it makes me wonder if Patrick has a day job or just spends his time chilling at cafes and sleeping by the pool.
Military style and workwear have always been an influence on #menswear, but it’s currently experiencing a resurgence worldwide too. Australians have been slowly catching up with the opening of stores like Big Trouble Store in Sydney, and Lieutenant & Co. in Melbourne, but the OGs have been rocking this shit for years.
Aussie-expat Ethan Newton, has become something of a Pitti icon – from his early days with The Armoury though to his current home at Bryceland’s & Co – and rocks tailoring with workwear better than anybody I know. What makes everything work for Ethan is how perfectly he has calibrated everything in his wardrobe. Working directly with Neapolitan tailoring firm Sartoria Dalcuore, Ethan has designed a block that complements his vintage style – from a soft construction that looks broken in, to full chests and lapels that give off a 40s vibe. His clothes have a post-war, mid-century appeal styled with a modern sensibility. And his rayon shirts, are just vibrant enough to look fashionable but not overly so (see below).
Jared Acquaro, another Australian, references military garments and workwear more explicitly. Jared has been a champion of classic men’s style ever since I got into menswear and his look has progressed from being completely tailored to exhibiting a much heavier military/workwear influence. In the suit below, note the safari detailing including the notched tab lapels, inverted pleat flap pockets and covered buttons. It’s also worth pointing out how incongruous the suit would look if worn with a regular button up shirt and tie. Jared wisely opts instead for a striped shirt that keeps the level of formality consistent.
There’s also a new crop of guys who are more focused on the attitude of vintage style than they are with its details. Australian-Italian blogger Roberto Malicia (@This.is.Malice) articulates this best with his new label The Fury. The Fury ostensibly takes reference from the alpha-male posturing of the 80s which comes across in Roberto’s aggressive fits. The first items from the collection are shirts with snakeskin prints that aren’t meant to be tongue in cheek or whimsical but intimidating. (Think Miami Vice, hey-day Versace, Milanese Club Punks, Furio from The Sopranos, and Scarface)
Roberto is more closely aligned with the fashionisto than the traditionalist, in that he is more captivated by the psychological aspects of clothes than the details. By this I mean the effects that clothes have on the people who wear them. Traditionalists are probably more concerned about Roberto’s “too-long shirt sleeves” and conspicuous tattoos than they are about the North Korean Summit (and part of me understands). But Roberto’s looks are meant to be more expressionist than classical – charismatic, powerful, and unapologetic.
Joe is of course, Pitti’s famous anti-peacock and the founder of The Finery Company. Though others have attempted to go against the grain by rocking conservative fits nobody does it as well as he does.
Joe’s style is defined by an impeccable eye for detail. Like Yasuto Kamoshita, Yukio Akamine and Noboru Kakuta, it’s hard to separate Joe from his clothes – everything just magically fits perfectly and goes together well.
Just look at how Joe twists the classic navy-blazer-grey trouser combo below. Firstly, the jacket is a shade of blue not navy, and the trousers are a light grey linen instead of a darker wool twill. Joe has also opted for a tie that not only deviates from primary colour combinations, it also picks up on tones of his jacket and trousers. Joe hasn’t only picked out his clothes with a discerning eye for quality but also carefully considered how they all go together. Even wearing navy socks with loafers (when everyone else is going sockless) is a damn fine touch. Nothing calls attention to itself yet everything looks remarkable.
Pepé similarly played the anti-peacock game by rocking up in charcoal trousers and a white safari shirt jacket. Charcoal trousers are nearly impossible to match – mainly because most jackets tend to be dark, and charcoal trousers far too often come off as the lower half of a suit. You need both the right amount of contrast in your jackets as well as the right degree of formality to pull them off.
What makes the fit work is the off-white colour of his safari shirt, and the rigid visual lines created by the edges of the box-pleated pockets and lapels. The level of formality has also been considered with the shortened, cuffed sleeves giving off a casual air, and with how both the jacket and trousers appear to be made of cotton. This delicate balance results in the fit resting comfortably in the nexus between tailored and street, without ever appearing like Pepé is trying too hard. Just take a look at how he’s rocking white-grey strap sandals without making a fuss about it.
For a country that’s notorious for its menswear, it’s refreshing to see our guys kill it overseas. Sometimes when I see fits like these, I think to myself “hell, maybe I should get my ass over to Pitti and join in the fun”. Then reality sets in and I realise the truth: I’m just too damn broke.