FLORENCE, Italy — Nostalgia was in the air at Pitti Uomo, held here June 21-24, as footwear brands showcased retro-inspired styles in soft and aged leathers. In the sports category, color made an impact, with sneakers taking on a multifunctional appeal for spring.
Below is a roundup of key launches, trends and the business forecast for next season.
•Italia Independent, founded by Lapo Elkann, grandson of Gianni Agnelli, the late Fiat chairman, showcased a new line with classic Italian shoemakers Pantofola d’Oro. Reinterpreted classic slip-ons, seersucker cotton and soft suede lambskin styles were on display in on-trend colors such as powder-blue.
•Car Shoe launched its new footwear project, the Monogram CS 1.0 sneaker, which can be personalized with letters and numbers.
•Other notable Pitti newcomers: Tact Italian Shoes showed styles with thin rubber soles and kidskin uppers that were inspired by dance footwear, and Clarks Originals launched a limited-edition, white-leather desert boot featuring pop prints by British artist Pete McKee.
Color made a comeback at several sporty brands, while classic labels also featured new hues for next season.
•Pantofola d’Ora — whose sales are up 45 percent over 2008 — unveiled a hand-dyed tennis line in 15 rainbow colors produced from buffalo nappa leather.
•Pirelli PZero previewed its new Angel shoes, sneakers with glazed microfiber uppers in shades of green, yellow and electric-blue. Inspired by “Angel tires,” used for sport touring bikes, the style’s gray and black soles take cues from industrial design.
•Church’s Shoes showcased made-in-Italy, powder-blue suede loafers. The brand’s English-made collection featured its classic Pembrey loafer, which was unlined and incorporated new flexibility.
•Fratelli Rossetti was also touting flexible products. Its new Derby shoe is an ultra-lightweight, finely woven style with unlined suede uppers.
•Hand-aged leather was on display at Voile Blanche. The collection showcased styles with uppers that appeared to be stonewashed and bleached by the sun, and sneakers with a retro look.
Many brands exhibiting at Pitti Uomo are looking to new regions, including the U.S., to pump up sales.
Pirelli PZero, which has seen sales rise by 20 percent from a year ago, plans to enter the American market this year, said Antonio Gallo, who heads up the collection.
Pantofola d’Ora has also opened a U.S. division and will begin operating Pantofola USA this fall. CEO Kim Winters acknowledged that the U.S. is a difficult market, but “we believe it has hit the bottom and is ready to start again.”
A spokesperson for Car Shoe said the U.S. has been difficult for the brand and cited Italy and Germany as its best-performing markets. The brand plans to bow a new Rome store in September and is looking at retail across Europe.