The fashion business is growing again. That was the message conveyed by Pitti Imagine’s CEO, Raffaello Napoleone, as the number of visitors at Pitti Uomo, the international trade show held in Florence between Jan. 12 and 15 increased just over 3%, or 23,300, from 22,700 a year ago. Of those visitors, 7,000 were foreigners, including a significant number of participants from the United States, Russia, France, China, Hong Kong, Spain, Turkey, Korea, Denmark and Norway and slightly fewer visitors from Germany, Japan and the UK. Napoleone added that for the most part visitors were optimistic. “They are all almost unanimously positive. They bring the enthusiasm of a new beginning,” he said.

“There was a new atmosphere of energy and positivity,” said Tiziana Cardini, fashion director, La Rinascente, Italy. “I saw great ideas from companies which brought some select ideas strongly focusing on their identity, a very high-quality level and a better price-quality ratio. I think that the success of capsule collections and monoproduct offer can only stimulate creative research and bring a growth in sales.”

Giorgio Molteni, owner of Tessabit, Como, added: “I finally felt novelty in the air, surely more positive than in the previous edition. Through the booths I found significant products with a very good price-quality ratio, and I also saw much research especially at the Touch! and L’Altro Uomo sections.”

According to Giorgia Pizzi, Italian account manager for Harvey Nichols Hong Kong and other international apparel groups, the newly redesigned pavilions of the Fortezza also created a more pleasant atmosphere. Interiors were redesigned by the Spanish design phenomenon Patricia Urquiola. The central pavilion area, for example, showed some retouching in white and red and the addition of pop-up stores offering brand selections by Pitti management. “For several seasons Pitti Uomo is exclusively the place to do research, but it is also becoming the context where one can write orders and where buyers can easily integrate their offer with most interesting ideas: from tailor-made jacketss to niche travel bags, from artisan-made limited edition shoes to sporty shirts,” Pizzi said.

Crowded pavilions and corridors and a lively atmospere characterized the start of the season that focused on previews of FW 10-11. The show opened its first night with a special event held by Roy Rogers celebrating the brand’s 60th anniversary and the launch of the car model RR60, while Italian pop singer Morgan and Fabio Cinti held a special music session for Gold Case at Luisa Via Roma. On Wednesday Pitti Special Guest Corneliani focused on a comeback of 80’s style menswear à-la-American Gigolo and on Thursday British designer Giles Deacon presented a modern collection focusing on metallic ornaments used as fine accessories.

In general, most collections showed an increased attention to R&D and product innovation. “We felt the need to concentrate on further careful detailing, top quality raw materials and beautiful fabrics,” said Lapo Elkann, showing his new Italia Independent collection, expanded to include a special hat collection made by Borsalino, eyewear and footwear.

Outerwear focused on down jackets often cut like blazers in functional materials, colorful nylons, menswear pinstripes and checked nylons like those presented by Kejo and Geo Spirit. Detachable inner jackets and vests were presented by Allegri, North Sails and Denham. Barbour presented a series of redesigned jackets as well as three Barbour Beacon jackets designed by Japanese designer Tokito.

The chino is showing a comeback in menswear, as shown by Mason’s with its reinvented overall and Dockers, which presented a fashion show focusing on more menswear categories such as shirting and new interpretations of chino trousers.

Jeanswear maintains its importance in men’s and women’s wardrobes. Following founder Maurizio Zaupa’s sale of his share of the company to the Miotto family, which owns the other half of the brand, SealKay is offering a smaller collection focused on modern themes and a new tops collection, Albert & Daniel, of shirt-polos. MCS Marlboro, now focusing on a more urban aesthetic, is launching a new series of ecologically-friendly jeans products and accessories. The Bio Jeans selection is made with organic cotton and dyes and recycled denim scraps woven into new denim fabrics. Cycle is offering a wide collection focusing on sci-fi themes such as metallic coated trousers, studded tops and sequined items. Fornari group is back at Pitti with revamped Hvana and Barleycorn collections as well as a new Fornarina Sport Glam collection focusing on feminine sporty looks, mixing functional tracksuits and down jackets with femininity and glam ideas.

The appeal of street life is hot again. Guru is offering a new subcollection inspired by the 1979 cult movie “The Warriors” with painted vests, studded leather perfectos and slim fit denims, and “Buskers” a special publication inspired by street music and art performance. Also fascinated by street culture is Maison Clochard, the young jeanswear brand. Its two young designers Simone Bianchi and Andrea Pagnanelli offer outstanding interpretations of the five-pocket jean including variations made with metallic coating, sweatshirt material and 80s-style stretch open-end denim. The collection was shown in a poetic environment of white cardboard walls created by the street artist Ivan with a softly painted backdrop, ant motifs and detachable white fabric painted ties.

—Maria Cristina Pavarini