This year’s Pitti Uomo 96 is set to be an interesting one that will look both back and forwards for the industry. The seasonal men’s trade show, held traditionally since its inception in 1989 in Florence, has evolved from being an affair intended to raise the Italian fashion profile to an influential springbed of ideas for the wider men’s fashion industry. This year, expect three exciting events on the calendar.

Givenchy is showing its first standalone menswear collection on the runway

Since taking the reins at Givenchy, the British designer Clare Waight-Keller has reinvigorated the brand with a unique modernity. After her haute couture debut, industry insiders were almost shocked to discover that Waight-Keller, previously designing ready-to-wear at Chloé, was incredibly gifted at high dressmaking. She even made what was undoubtedly the most famous and talked-about piece of clothing of 2018: Meghan Markle’s wedding dress.

Clare Waight Keller

So far, that’s all been victories on the women’s fronts. Now, Waight-Keller is dedicating more focus and attention to her menswear. The men’s has been, so far, almost an afterthought. The brand has been presenting co-ed runway shows, and – as it almost always does – the women outshone the men.

Givenchy Spring/Summer 2019 campaign photo

Well, not this time. If the designer has proven anything, it’s that she’s not a creative force to be underestimated. She’s even included menswear in her couture collections, which could mean a potentially dazzling direction of out and out luxury and opulence. In the face of most else in the men’s market, it’s a thrilling thought.

Sterling Ruby is debuting his fashion label, S.R.STUDIO.LA.CA

Portrait by Fernando Pinheiro

The American artist, who we all definitely know by now for his ongoing collaboration with Belgian designer Raf Simons, has decided to launch his own fashion label. Named S.R.STUDIO.LA.CA – Sterling Ruby Studio Los Angeles, California, in case it wasn’t clear – the brand will stock men’s and women’s clothing, and will show its first Spring/Summer 2020 collection at Pitti Uomo.

In a press release, Ruby was quoted as saying: "I’ve always been interested in the behavioural power that comes with clothing.” Which will come as no surprise, given the close collaboration he has had with Raf Simons on the designer's own label, Dior, and Calvin Klein. At Calvin Klein, especially, runway sets were designed by Sterling Ruby – hanging axes and all. Even more notable was the complete overhaul of Klein’s flagship Madison Avenue, New York store. This was the only one in the world to receive the Sterling Ruby treatment, and to carry the now defunct 205W39NYC runway line.

Calvin Klein 654 Madison Avenue photos by Elizabeth Felicella/Esto Photographics

After being involved in a peripheral way, perhaps Ruby has been itching to get into the fashion game all on his own. Collaboration is one thing, but the personal creative freedom of an artist is another – and it’s anyone’s guess what kind of clothing Sterling Ruby will fashion. Safe bet, though, that it’s going to have something to do with America.

Olivier Saillard to curate an exhibition looking back, through the lens of Pitti Uomo, at 30 years of menswear

To mark 30 years of Pitti Uomo, the Fondazione Pitti Immagine Discovery have enlisted fashion curator and historian Olivier Saillard to mount an exhibition. Titled ‘A Short Novel On Men’s Fashion’, or ‘Romanzo Breve Di Moda Maschile’ in the Italian, it will be held at the Palazzo Pitti Museum of Costume and Fashion.

Vivienne Westwood Spring/Summer 1991. Photo by Astra Marina Cabras
Fumito Ganryuu Spring/Summer 2019. Photo by Astra Marina Cabras

It’s very on trend right now, as fashion exhibitions are enjoying a boom and renaissance. Saillard is one of the best in the business, and his wide-ranging eye and expertise will see him pull garments from the histories of some 150 brands.

Conceived and designed to look like oversized pages from a book, the exhibition will trace the evolution of styles and trends to come through 30 years of Pitti Uomo fairs. Expect a poetic narrative, and loads of great archival garments.