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Pitti Uomo: A Veteran’s Perspective

American author and aesthete, David Coggins, talks to Crockett & Jones about how this international menswear trade show has changed over the years, and why he keeps coming back.

Pitti Uomo: A Veteran’s Perspective

David Coggins is one of American menswear’s most knowledgeable disciples. A New York Times bestselling author, journalist and (perhaps most crucially) a Crockett & Jones customer, Coggins’ passion for clothing is well documented – not least in his book Men and Style. Generously, he took a little time out from his schedule at Pitti Uomo 96 to give us his impressions of the trade show, and how this often strange men’s style institution has changed in the time he’s been visiting.

This is my eleventh Pitti, so I guess that’s five-and-a-half or six years. I’ve never skipped one during that time. I’ve often threatened to and told people “this is it, I’m over this”. Then of course something happens the next season or there’ll be something I want to see, and I’m drawn back in.

I threaten not to return to Florence because some aspects of Pitti Uomo are exhausting. You take the most vein men in the world, and then put them around more men who are equally vain, and by day three of the fair, the intensity of concern about clothing is turned into a clown show. Thankfully, the brands that attend redeem Pitti.

I visit the fair to celebrate these makers and entrepreneurs, rather than idolise personal brands. Pitti has definitely become more of a draw for ‘peacocks’ in recent years, but I like a man who dresses for himself. Sometimes, at Pitti, personal style crosses over into costume.

My interest in the fair was raised initially by all the photographs that began to circulate of elegant older Italian men on the street, and at first I thought Pitti was just that. I didn’t realise it was a full-blown trade show. It’s like going to an art fair where you think you’re going to see some old masters and there are performance artists making a barricade around the outside.

Living in New York, I don’t have much access to European brands and ateliers on a regular basis, so to see them all in one place is wonderful. I always admire the Italian tailors who exhibit, and I try to catch-up with other friends too. It’s great to see the guys from Drake’s, and the Isetan buying team – they always seem to travel as large groups of extremely well dressed men.

I also enjoy observing how different cultures approach their clothes during the show. The Neapolitan set really admire English style, but the way they interpret it is more Italian than anything else could ever be. And the Japanese interpret preppy American menswear in a truly unique way.

I’ve followed a lot of brands over the years, and it’s lovely to watch them evolve and progress. There’s nothing more enjoyable than seeing how people express themselves with their clothes, and celebrate all the things we care about as men with a passion for style.

You’ll be able to read more from David Coggins soon. Meantime, keep reading our Guest Authors’ musings here.