Twice a year, the Pitti Uomo menswear show—and a gang of preening global influencers— transform Florence into an all-city runway for classic gentlemen’s style.
For Max Poglia, simply being in Florence can be overwhelming. “There are so many beautiful things around you, you almost have a breakdown,” says the Brooklyn-based designer of handcrafted knives and bags. Of course, the city’s art and architecture have been making visitors lose their grip for centuries. But Poglia is no ordinary tourist. He’s visited Florence a few times as a vendor at Pitti Uomo, the exclusive menswear event that has turned this otherwise changeless (some might say stubbornly trend-resistant) city into an increasingly important hub for a new generation of global style trendsetters.
Twice a year, these canny enthusiasts descend on Florence to make deals and soak up old-world inspiration for both their own work and legions of Instagram followers. “You find some of the best-dressed men on the planet,” says Scott Schuman, a.k.a. The Sartorialist, who has been photographing said men against Florentine backdrops of peeling frescoes and marble piazzas for nearly a decade. “What those visuals mean to young guys all over the world is pretty staggering. There are people imitating Pitti street style in Cape Town.”
Santa Maria del Fiore (The Duomo) obviously makes for a handsome backdrop. But for Poglia and other nostalgia-minded Brooklyn innovators, Florence appeals more as an unself-conscious embodiment of craft and slow-made authenticity—evident in everything from leather goods to wine and tailoring. “What feels like a movement in New York, in Florence just is,” says Andrew Livingston, a friend of Poglia’s and the co-founder of Queens-based fashion brand Knickerbocker Mfg. For the classics-seeking new guard, novelty and cutting-edge design are not the point. “All of us gravitate to the same places in Florence,” says Ouigi Theodore, owner of the vintage-inspired clothier Brooklyn Circus. “The ones that have comfort, character, personality, and S-O-U-L.”