Insider's Guide to Pitti

Insider's Guide to Pitti

Historically speaking, Pitti Uomo is a garmento trade show in Florence, Italy. 20-30 years ago multi-brand stores like Murray Pearlstein’s in Boston or Wilkes Bashford in San Francisco, would go because they were trying to pick up goods and curate their stores with these European artisan brands. It was stuff that you could easily buy online today but back then before the internet, that was the only way you can get access to these brands.

Pitti is the place you go to learn and understand the business and to get to know people in the business. Then, when you go back home to wherever you're from, whether it's New York or California or even some smaller town, you've gotten so much inspiration and had so many conversations that you take all this back to digest and grow. That’s what I did. When I started this business, I was in Miami. And every year I was going back to Miami with this forward thinking, very sartorial you know, visuals and thoughts and inspiration that wasn't in Miami at the time. And the idea was we were bringing them back from what was going on in Europe.

Things started to change around 2005 in a good way when you saw Scott Schumann, The Sartorialist, create blogs and share information online. Even if you were into Menswear, I don't think there was a venue or a platform where we could see visually what was going on at Pitti until then. You saw it afterwards in pictures. It took guys like Scott, posting photos from like PItti or Milan on his OG blog, to say, “Holy crap, look at all these cool-dressing gentlemen!” He brought that to this side of the world where people were like, “Damn, I've never heard of Lino Leluzzi!” He is, by the way, is the originator of peacocking properly at Pitti.

Lino barely speaks English, but I remember him talking to me when I first went to Pitti. He has a proper store in Milan that's very well known globally called Al-Bazaar. Everyone knows about it. He's one of the best dressed Pitti icons that people also like. I like him like a lot. So when I asked him, “Why do you come and do you buy here for your store?” he says, “No, I come here for two days straight and I don't even go inside. I just stand outside. People take pictures of me, and it's the most incredible free source of global marketing I could ever do.” And that was back in the day when those pictures weren't really surfacing in a lot of places except the menswear blogs. Because of that, now you have people from around the world flying into Milan, specifically going to see Lino at Al-Bazaar to buy stuff from him because he doesn’t ship.

Lino is the originator of peacocking at Pitti for the sole purpose of being seen and it being a marketing play. And it's funny because when I first saw it, my thought was “Could I do the same thing, leverage creating brand equity without having any money to do marketing or in being a magazine like The Rake, GQ or Esquire? I knew it'd probably cost me a couple thousand dollars, but if I went to Pitti I could get shot by these international photographers from around the world, and these pictures will get around!

Now I know for a fact that it works.

I once got a random text from an old college friend who saw a photo of me peacocking outside of Pitti on the cover of a South Korean menswear magazine! “You're dead smack on the cover, the entire page,” he said. I had him send me a picture and he was right. There it was. A photo of me my second year Pitti, I'm having a cigar outside doing the peacock thing.

Oh I can’t forget the parties. Everyone looks forward to the parties. The hottest party right now that everyone looks forward to is the WM Brown party, hosted by the magazine’s founder Matt Hranek himself. Typically it used to be done at Harry's Bar on Ponte Vecchio on the Arno river but lately it’s gotten so big that he does it at Harry's Garden, which is brilliant. It's amazing. Matt does this shtick with karaoke, singing like Sinatra or Tony Bennett. I think they had way more people this time around, and way more people hanging out outside since it was a milder Winter in Florence. It’s become one of those things like, if you weren’t at the WM Brown Party, where WERE you?

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