Italian Macho Sportswear

Where will all this macho sportswear take us? Emerging Italian designers answer using typically Italian jargon.

Text by: Alessio de’Navasques

What seemed like a breath of fresh air when pragmatism and innovation were introduced only a few seasons ago has now become a glorification of banal predictability. The continued quest for pragmatism and innovation in sportswear, which permeated all the collections at the most recent men’s fashion weeks, seems to want, most dangerously, to cancel out everything that was once the appeal of masculine elegance. Is this the desire to celebrate physical strength and masculine energy, or a premonition of darker times to come? If these are global trends, then, unlike other fashion weeks, Italy has responded with a profusion of new ideas dedicated to the male universe which, surprisingly, made the shows at Pitti Uomo in Florence and Men’s Fashion Week in Milan ‘cool’ and interesting.

Florence continues to reaffirm its position as the capital of men’s fashion with numerous offerings and events aimed at supporting a new generation of Italian fashion designers. What emerges is a quest for a wholly Italian identity; a culture or sub-culture of the Bel Paese that goes back to our roots. This trend is apparent in the creations showcased by emerging designer Dorian Stefano Tarantini, better known as Dorian Gray, who focuses on the ‘paninaro’ (bugerboy) spirit of the 1990s. His project, presented last week in Florence by Fondazione Pitti Immagine Discovery, and titled M1992, explores several highly stylistic characteristics and details of those golden years of Milanese fashion.

The legendary ‘El Charro’ brand, the symbol of the spontaneous look that marked an era, now becomes the symbol of  an innovative search to define new frontiers of Italian style. The idea is to give shape to a post-modern wardrobe.

The strongest response comes from Luca Magliano with his ‘Wardobe for a Man In Love’, thrilling the public who flocked to Florence for the latest edition of Pitti Uomo. His research is deeply rooted in poor authentic Italian working class culture which, though, now almost forgotten, made Post-War Italian cinema famous throughout the world. Movie stars and timeless icons wearing Magliano’s creations strutted down the  catwalk; Bohemian figures, one can still encounter in certain multi-ethnic suburbs and provinces in Italy. This is the wardrobe of a multi-ethnic nomad, who lives every day as if it were his last; a person who talks to us about love, a topic that appears to be old-fashioned.

During these days dedicated to men’s fashion, Florence shows itself in all its glory. Courtyards and ‘palazzi’ open their doors to crowds of industry members, fashionistas and narcissists. Satellite industries continue to grow thanks to loyal buyers from Korea, Russia, France, the Netherlands, Japan, the USA, Austria and Portugal, industry members from Mexico, Australia, Brazil and India, with a smattering of countries from Eastern Europe. Conversely, the multitude of glamour boys and bloggers, waiting to have their images captured by fashion photographers, has diminished – possibly a positive effect of this macho sportswear.