Pitti Uomo: why this Italian fashion festival is suddenly taking over your Instagram feed
In the social media generation of fashion, street style reigns supreme.
While the streets of Milan, New York, Paris and London are awash with style insiders for two weeks of the year, the city of Florence, Italy is a sea of colour twice annually as 'menswear mecca' Pitti Uomo takes place every January and June.
It attracts a crowd of impeccably dressed (mostly) men and some women of all ages and occupations, the common thread that weaves them together being a distinct love of fashion.
Pitti Uomo isn't a new event (it was first launched in 1972), but as content is king on social media, this functional fashion festival has transformed from a trade show into an opportunity to showcase an #OOTD with the best dressed men in the world.
It's a four-day bi-annual event in which brands showcase their latest collections to buyers and retailers, and boasts a range of some of the world's most talented designers from established names like MSGM to a special focus on Chinese designers, many of whom dominated news coverage.
In what began as a trade show in the 1970s, a means to showcase Italian tailoring to the international market, it has evolved from an opportunity for buyers to purchase from designers directly (which it still does), but also as a means to experiment with fashion in a way that might not otherwise feel accessible.
This year also included a sprinkle of womenswear, most notably the debut of former French Vogue editor-in-chief Carine Roitfield's event debut in the form of CR Runway x Luisaviaroma, which featured supermodels like Gigi and Bella Hadid, Irina Shayk and Doutzen Kroes taking to the runway at the Piazzale Michelangelo esplanade.
The show featured 90 different looks curated from LuisaViaRoma, the luxury Italian retailer's website, which will be rolled out in various drops throughout the year, had more than 3,000 guests and a performance by Lenny Kravitz.
In recent years, as Fashion Month becomes an overcrowded, over-commercialised affair, insiders are looking outside the box and Pitti Uomo has been hailed as having the best street style out of all of its competitors.
With a sea of bright yellow suiting, striped shirts and fedoras, it's easy to see why.
More than 30,000 people - of which more than half are men - working in fashion descend on Florence for its four-day duration, 18,500 of which are buyers, according to organisers.
Hat designer Anthony Peto, who has a chapelier in Paris and on Dublin's South Anne Street, regularly features and a host of bloggers have been dipping their toe into the waters of the Arno River.
"It is the biggest mens trade show in the world," Peto explains. "It's a hugely important event - most of the big brands that don’t show in Paris and Milan show there.
"Of all the trade sows we do, it’s most fun and exhilarating.
"When you walk into a show, there are paparazzi everywhere. They have always been there, but traditionally, they would have only appeared in newspapers. Social media has amplified it."
The dress-up culture is almost a collective uniform and he describes it as what is essentially fashion's true purpose: expression.
"In the case of a lot of people, it’s not narcissistic - it’s not a vanity thing - it’s a performance.
"It’s fashion as performance and it’s very appealing in that sense."