Pitti Buyers Cheer Men’s Looks

Footwear players attending the recent high-end men’s Pitti Uomo show here were upbeat about the fall season.

Many vendors and buyers interviewed at the show, held Jan. 12-15, said shoes are a growing segment for them, with shoppers willing to pay for quality.

“Shoes are a terrific category for us. Classics are working and contemporary continues to grow,” said Tom Ott, SVP and GMM of men’s at Saks Fifth Avenue.

Massimo Caronna, president of Brunello Cucinelli USA, said the brand has put a lot of focus on footwear, and “in our mono-brand stores, it has been the first thing to sell out,” he said. The brand, which opened a new store on Madison Avenue in New York, ended 2009 up 15 percent from 2008.

New to the show were several pop-up stores, small areas within the fair’s main pavilion that featured new brands and lifestyle accessories, such as H. Katsukawa, a Japanese footwear designer who exhibited his high-end shoe collection for the first time at Pitti. The line featured 10 classic models, including lace-up brogues with an avant-garde twist.

Araldi1930, a new Italian shoe brand, was another notable debut at the show, and Italian shoemakers Pantofola d’Oro launched a collaboration with Japanese denim company 45rpm. The line included four sneaker models also available as high-tops in a distinctive Japanese indigo-blue.

Max Kibardin, the winner of last season’s Pitti Uomo “Who’s on Next” award for men’s accessories, presented his shoe collaboration with New York artist Ikè Udé. The collection features transparent plastic loafers with embroidered scenes on the shoe’s inner. The capsule collection ran alongside Kibardin’s fall offering of cowhide clogs and suede biker boots.

The rugged outdoors was a key inspiration at the fair. Brunello Cucinelli showcased a new boot aptly titled “the alpinista” (mountain climber). The shoe is distinguished by its lightweight Vibram soles and has worn leather uppers.

“We are excited to introduce the footwear, as it perfectly defines the taste and functionality of this unique sportswear look,” said Tom Kalenderian, EVP and GMM of men’s for Barneys New York.

Hiking-inspired styles with contrast fur linings were also seen at Stefanobi, Kris Van Assche and at Italian brand Voile Blanche, which previewed a nubuck leather walking boot in brown and gray.

Washed leather and used finishes were on display at several brands. Lidfort, Italian shoemakers since 1945, touted its classic washed leather brogue collection to a new contemporary audience.

Tassel details were seen across the board, on casual to formal styles. At Fratelli Rossetti, a 1960s-era loafer returned for fall ’10 in crocodile, pony, suede and leather with contrast tassels. Moreschi showcased slip-ons in calf leather with tassels and rustic vintage finishes, and Marc Jacobs showed tassels on suede moccasin boots in sand and chocolate brown.

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