When It Comes To Menswear, Italians Might Actually Do It Better – M & S
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When It Comes To Menswear, Italians Might Actually Do It Better

There's a revolution happening in menswear, and if you're watching close enough, you'll catch it. At Pitti Uomo, the Florence-based fashion week for men, recharged energy was in the air; of course, not too much — because Europeans just don't roll that way — but just enough to let anyone in attendance know that menswear has (finally) caught up. To much of the relief of naysayers, the spectacle brought together old and new: via its honoree, the American label Brooks Brothers, and a formidable base of Italian-based newcomers, like M1992 and Magliano. For lack of better words, it was fantastico.

Traveling at the light speed pace of the industry today, it can be hard to find the necessary time required to really take it all in. But in terms of fashion week formulas, Pitti Uomo nailed it. Venues were epic, wait times were reasonable (they didn't exactly start on time, per se, but at least they served wine while audiences queued up), and it seemed that, in addition to collections that actually added something to the scope of menswear, designers had time to conceptualize their shows. At last, a fashion show felt like a spectacle worth devouring, not just a blip of time in an overpacked schedule that called for a re-see.

What all of this signals for men may not mean very much on the retail level — especially seeing as most of these clothes will no doubt set fashion lovers back a few credit card payments — but it does signify that menswear isn't giving up. And that fashion, no matter how much of it men are buying into, can still be conceptual for the sake of inspiration. In the slideshow ahead, we narrowed it down to the best of what Italy has to offer. Outside of pasta, of course. Pasta is a whole 'nother conversation.

Disclosure: Travel and expenses for the author were provided by Pitti Immagine Uomo for the purpose of writing this story.

Brooks Brothers
Alright, this one you probably already know. But at the Brooks Brothers bicentenary fashion show at Palazzo Vecchio, the oldest American retailer served more than just another lineup of the finest in men's suiting. It was, as calculated as it should have been, the best of what they've worked so long to perfect — with new and improved styling tricks to boot.

Think: ties that acted as belts, tamed lapels that took dress coats from outerwear to season-less staples, a trench coat that'd been turned inside out, and sweater vests over blazers. All of this, of course, tied together at their seams with an offering of relaxed, ultra-cool — and finally, unisex — suits. In sum: Brooks Brothers will never be worn the same again.

Photo: Courtesy of Pitti Uomo.

As part of an upcoming designer spotlight program, dubbed Fondazione Pitti Immagine Discovery that highlights Italian brands that design and manufacture there, all eyes were on Magliano. What with an invitation that included a gold necklace and a air-tight sealed portrait of its show star, Toni Pandolfo (an Italian actor known for his role as Dracula), designer Luca Magliano presented a collection that ended up feeling much more realistic than most would've expected.

Turning the corner of a pile of red roses, man after boy, teen after elder — and, one woman — waltzed down the runway in what Magliano deemed an editing of men's wardrobe staples, with an agender twist. Blazers, pleated pants, duct taped Converse sneakers, plaid pants, argyle sweaters, and more hit the reset button on how those of us stateside should approach men's ready-to-wear. All of the above, of course, Magliano revealed to be sourced in what make's womenswear so great: structure, lines, and Italian glamour.

Photo: Courtesy of Pitti Uomo.

What felt more like a meditative pause amidst the madness that's any fashion week, the German-based label 032c managed to hone the attention of hundreds on streetwear pieces that made their own statements without screaming too loudly. The 15-minute long presentation was held in the Palazzo Medici Riccardi, after all. Titled "What We Believe," the magazine's debut fashion project included a spoken word portion that alluded to the idea that without mutual respect, an exchange of ideas is worthless.

It was one of the more political innuendos that came out of the week, reminding onlookers that words matter. And, it was a message that, narrated by a collection that was both powerful and wearable, could only come from an editor. In terms of bridging medias for more than theatric's sake — and a damn good Snapchat story — Joerg Koch got the last word in.

Photo: Courtesy of Pitti Uomo.

For their chance to introduce Bmuet(te) to the international market, South Korean designers Byungmun Seo and Jina Um didn't disappoint. What may have seemed like an array of streetwear mainstays to some felt like a breath of baited fresh air to the rest of us who've seen one too many a hoodie just stroll down the runway. Accented with womenswear aesthetics like ruffles and ruching, a trench coat — or even an oversized puffer — was anything but.

It's Eastern talents like Bmuet(te) that make American sportswear labels look like not-so-secret admirers from afar. Well, at least until they can figure out how to put Victorian and gothic aesthetics on top of stateside streetwear staples into a blender and make it taste good.

Photo: Courtesy of Pitti Uomo.

What's better than the actual fashion at a fashion show? The music. It's why DJ-designer hybrid Dorian Stefano Tarantini's debut for M1992 was both fun to watch and listen to (which is important if you're on your umpteenth show of the day). But, tunes aside, the influence Tarantini's blacklit Club Plastic days has had on M1992 showed thru a collection that ranged from full denim getups that made the Canadian Tuxedo feel pallatable again (via Levi's, of course), to rhinestoned hoodies that felt more like everyday-wear than not, '80s-esque blazers worth an earnest try, a few good graphic tees, and back.

After renaming his Malibu 1992 collection to a curt M1992, anyone who was hoping for a strong, head-to-toe rebranding was pleased to find Tarantini did just that. While most of M1992's aesthetic is rooted in style notes that contain less shock value than they do cool factor, one look did manage to steal the show — a denim crop top, no less, that said: Let the music play.

Photo: Courtesy of Pitti Uomo.

To close out an eventful week, Japanese designer Jun Takahashi revisited the Pitti Uomo stage where he'd last shown nine years ago. Joining him, designer Takahiro Miyashita of The Soloist made up the second portion of their joint fashion show that celebrated their work and friendship that has, in Miyashita's case, never been on display outside of Japan. Both shows were inspired by Tokyo's street punk and music scenes.

Where typical runways are concerned, the meeting of Undercover and The Soloist defied all expectations. Each designer delivered the best of their aesthetics — streetwear and contemporary, avant-garde ready-to-wear, respectively — each replete with their own encores. It was just the dose of hardcore artisanal goodness for a men's fashion week that would've otherwise been flooded with graphic tees and sneakers.

Photo: Courtesy of Pitti Uomo.

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