Menswear SS20: hitting the Pitti beat
Super-hot was the weather at the 96th edition of Pitti Uomo last week, and superlative style graced the show, with some sizzling collections that hit the "Pitti Special Click". Roll the drums, here’s our picks from the finest at Fortezza da Basso.
Trustworthy, reliable, you know what you’re getting, yes indeed. But Hartford always manages to look fresh and exciting at the same time. The French have always been good at adding a touch of Je ne sais quoi to American styling, and this Parisian brand is amongst the best.
"Alternative Classics" is its spin, and this year is its 40thanniversary. You just have to love the easiness in which it mixes Aloha shirts with military khaki and greens, with surf inspired T-shirt prints thrown in for good measure. The summer standalone space at Pitti is cool and air conditioned, handy in near 100 degrees heat, while the outside stand addition resembles a beach shack where you just want to sit and shape up your surf board supping a Mojito – and pondering the fabulous printed swim-shorts and shirts.
A pop-up "Hartford Beach Club" store in Paris – replicating the Pitti beach shack concept – is planned for six weeks from tomorrow, 18 June, in celebration of the 40th, with limited edition re-runs of favourite past Hartford styles and collectable surf boards with typical print artwork. C’est magnifique.
Established five years ago in 2014 in Madrid, Edmmond Studios adds a bit of quirkiness to classic styles, and where you might find a polo player or a crocodile on a shirt or polo, you’ll find a duck. Yes, a duck, and why not? Though to be honest you have to look a bit deeper than a logo to get it, there’s plenty of very wearable pieces here.
It’s fun, a little bit tongue in cheek, but still very cool, and with only 24 current UK accounts there’s plenty of scope for growth. What’s more, SS20 will only be its second season with the Palladio fashion agency in London. Printed revere collar shirts are once again present, but executed with panache, and lightweight summer knitwear is perhaps more fitting for a British summer than a Spanish one.
"No bad days" is a new slogan, as is "Surf is dead". The three brand founders are apparently motor cross riders and surfers, and that’s where the design influences clearly come from. Sweatshirts retail at £80, Tees are £35 and it’s a 2.7 margin across the board, music to indie ears?
Wow, what a stand-out collection from the duffle coat legends. Eye-catching to say the least. More collaborations than you can poke a stick at, but it’s working. Head of sales, Mark McAnulty, is clearly loving the new focus. He said: “It’s great to have something fresh to talk about. We’ve used lightweight Japanese technical fabrics of the highest level. We’ve already received a very positive response from buyers in terms of moving the brand on – yet keeping it in the realms of where we’re meant to be. We’ve done that by taking a more technical route.”
The "unisex" SS20 collection is themed around the RNLI lifeboat society, and the design references are superb. Flashes of orange are a clear nod to traditional life jackets, but the outerwear here is definitely not all at sea. Shoulder straps inside the jackets replicate those of a lifeboat jacket, so you can turn it inside out and wear it across your shoulders when it’s warmer, and not so wet. Ergonomic pockets and taped heat-sealed seams for ultimate water-proofing add to the authenticity.
Aforementioned collabs include one with swim short ocean-friendly designer Riz – with a jacket made from recycled plastic bottles, Sanders shoes and some mighty fine jersey pieces with Les Basics. There’s even some killer denim pieces (including jeans) with new UK brand, Ullac. Prices have been elevated, but when you see it, you know why, and as McAnulty added “nobody has blinked” at the price points. A very nice Pitti surprise indeed.
You can’t really not include a Scandinavian collection in a decent menswear show report these days, enter Native North from Copenhagen. It’s only been going five years, and the UK’s is its strongest market to date – though only through its own transactional website. There are currently zero bricks and mortar UK retailers selling it, though the Good People Agency has just taken it on, so watch this space.
The brand has apparently shipped out over 250 parcels, just to addresses in London, since January. Lightweight fabrics with a bit of "undercover tech" in everyday wardrobe staples is where it’s at. Technical, without looking technical is the key. There’s on-trend walking shorts, hemp overshirts, washed cotton carpenter’s jackets, military-inspired pieces, and mighty fine silk-blend camp collar shirts for SS20. Ripstop stretch cotton and paper-thin nylon – that’s light and bouncy with breathability, give it an edge. There’s even some great selvedge denim jeans set to retail at €120. Who said it’s grim up North?
Seoul in South Korea is becoming a bit of a hotbed for fashion, and while this collection may be pricey, it’s also highly desirable with plenty of attention to detail. Going since 2011, and now with 10 Pitti appearances under its belt, Bastong doesn’t currently have any UK accounts, though a distributor is being sought. Outerwear is the main focus, with jackets and coats numbered one-to-five in terms of styles, though there’s plenty more on offer.
A British Millerain waxed cotton field jacket and a parka, a simple 1960’s-style raincoat and a hunting style jacket with leather collar all feature. There’s also a belted military-style jacket with four angled pockets, a natural white cotton jacket inspired by a French military classic – complete with vertical zip-up chest pockets, and the brand has moved in to shirting and quality Egyptian cotton polo shirts. Wholesale prices range between €89 - €285, so it’s pretty premium, but it looks it.
Another one hailing from Paris, Olow – going since 2006 - collaborates with different artists from all over the world to offer unique prints and patterns across its shirts, shorts, knits and Tees. It has two standalone shops in Paris, but it’s another one with no current UK accounts looking for the right agent or distributor, though it does supply retailers all over Europe. Sales manager, Alexandre Picard, said: “The DNA of the brand is to create artistic collaborations, and each artist’s name appears on the back neck label. We’ve worked with 15 different artists for SS20.”
Illustrator Quentin Monge, from St. Tropez, is one such artist who has put his stamp on some of Olow’s finest pieces this time around. It’s very graphic, though there are some great plain pieces as well, a blank canvas if you will. Everything is produced in Portugal, with fabrics from Portugal and Italy, including organic cotton, so quality is paramount. A shirt with an all-over papaya print may sound garish, but actually it’s pretty tasty. For the more reserved there’s also traditional cotton French work jackets, albeit in some fairly lairy colours - such as bright yellow, to add a splash of summer fun in the sun.