How do you dress for a hotter world? Attendees of the 104th edition of Pitti Uomo, Florence’s biannual fashion trade show known as menswear mecca, are wrestling with the question ahead of this season’s market.
“Last Fashion Week in Florence was 40 degrees,” recalls Christopher Casuga, who has been attending the fair since 2015 as owner and creative director for CNTRBND. Casuga is quick to point out that in Europe air conditioned environments can’t be counted on either. “I’m going to be wearing a lot of Homme Plissé because the fabrics are lighter,” he explains, then continues down his packing list, citing silk shirts from Dries Van Noten, and the crochet tank tops and vests of CMMN SWDN.
Running from June 13 to 16, Pitti Immagine Uomo will feature 825 fashion, footwear and lifestyle brands presenting their SS24 menswear collections to buyers, editors and industry insiders. Joseph Tang, fashion director for Holt Renfrew, will also be among those in attendance. He describes Pitti Uomo as more curated than other trade shows (think: Italian sportswear and tailoring, classic shoes, and wardrobe staples executed with the quality and precision Japanese labels are famous for). The brands on display at Pitti — despite its push into the technical outdoors category with exhibitors like Keen and Snow Peak — could feasibly all be found in the closet of a single customer.
Tang himself is planning to pack classic, timeless pieces, including “linen trousers, crisp poplin shirts and really lightweight layering pieces.” He’ll save the bold runway looks for Paris or Milan. This season, he’s curious about how the “pared back” influence of quiet luxury will manifest, considering many of the exhibitors — Brunello Cucinelli, L.B.M. 1911 and Piacenza Cashmere 1733, to name a few — are brands that epitomize the trend.
“I’m excited to see the modern take of minimalism from the ’90s being interpreted for this era,” says Tang, who’s also curious to see where menswear is headed next. “There’s such a fluidness to how men are dressing. To me, mens is the biggest opportunity for defining new codes of dressing.”
Casuga says his customers come to CNTRBND for its unique point of view, which he describes as “bright, colourful, young, and kind of out of the ordinary.” The Toronto-based menswear boutique with locations in Montreal and Vancouver stands out because of the bold choices he makes at market. “We have a more refreshing take on some of these brands,” Casuga explains. “The overall aesthetic of ERL is exactly what we’ve been talking about throughout this conversation,” he says later, referencing the cult California-based brand by Eli Russell Linnetz — who happens to be the guest designer for Pitti Uomo 104 — that CNTRBND carries: “It’s young, it’s colorful, it’s playful, and it’s for the culture at the moment.”
There are, of course, other factors that influence his buys. Sustainability is one. “We want to make sure that we are being conscious of everything that we’re buying,” says Casuga, “and being aware of the techniques that these companies are using to help preserve the fashion industry, instead of continuously adding to the mountains of clothing that we already have.”
Another factor, one that both Tang and Casuga spoke about, is the knowledge they gain from their peers at market. “Fashion Week is a global experience where you have leaders and members of press, influencers, buyers, retailers around the globe all funneled into one location for three four days at a time,” says Tang. “You learn so much just from listening, looking, observing, asking questions, being curious, asking, ‘What’s happening in Germany right now?’ or ‘What’s going on in China?’ You’re able to take a lot of those references and adapt them to what makes sense for your own customer.”
“You can’t miss the 12 o’clock lunch,” says Casuga. “The 12 o’clock lunch is usually where all the buyers internationally will get together and talk business and politics and what’s happening.” As for what fills the rest of their days after market in Florence: “I already have a reservation at Buca Mario. For me, that’s the best Florentine steak in the whole city,” says Casuga.