FLORENCE, Italy — Neither the high winds that diverted flights past Florence’s airport to nearby regional cities like Bologna or Pisa, nor security jitters that led to undercover patrols and sniffer dogs policing the streets near major monuments deterred the flocks of peacocks who descended on this city this week for the huge men’s wear fair Pitti Uomo.
“We’re really quite surprised, to be honest, how many people came,” Raffaello Napoleone, the fair’s director, said of an estimated 30,000 visitors.
While exhibitor numbers have climbed steeply over the past several years — 1,219 labels are now represented here, close to 50 percent of them international — geopolitics have a way of wreaking havoc on commercial expectations. In recent years, the ruble collapsed and the Russians stayed home; then the renminbi fell into a ditch, taking with it the free-spending Chinese and the global markets. It turns out people have had more important concerns than whether to trade in their jeggings for palazzo pants.
Yet the mobs strutting along walkways threaded through a maze of pavilions, tents and pop-ups crammed inside the 16th-century Fortezza da Basso were so dense that it felt like wandering into a tube-sock sale at a street fair rather than a multibillion-dollar trade event, among the most important in the business.
Because many exhibitors have already gone into production with merchandise displayed here, Pitti Uomo serves as a commercial bellwether. Designers mounting runway presentations in Milan, Paris and New York over the next four weeks are in that sense disadvantaged, as the core of their design messages may, in many cases, have been rolled out already at Pitti in a mainstream commercial form.
The Pitti display from Roy Roger’s, the Italian-owned brand, includes a capsule collection by Scott Schuman, the Sartorialist blogger. Credit Chris Warde-Jones for The New York Times
In terms of trends, all indicators suggest trousers are about to widen and waistlines will migrate north. “My girlfriend asked me if I’d had breakfast this morning,” said Scott Schuman, the Sartorialist blogger and a newly minted designer, whose capsule collection for the Italian-owned Roy Roger’s label opened here on Wednesday.
“I said: ‘Are you kidding? I have to wear those jeans today,’ ” Mr. Schuman added, referring to high-waisted denims from his new line.
Fabrics, if not Mr. Schuman, will be putting on weight in the near future. The hefty woolens that granddad wore are making a comeback. Blue serge may be next. “There is this return to those traditional weaves that disappeared when the superlight woolens came along,” said Guido Vergani, a representative of the Italian shirt makers Dudalina and managing director of AD56, a noted Milanese haberdashery. Textile powerhouses like Ermenegildo Zegna have taken note.
Under the direction of the unassuming Mr. Napoleone, Pitti Uomo has stolen a march on other fashion capitals as an incubator of style. Street photographers all know it as a place both to spot trends in the making and to mark for death those whose time is up. “There’s only one true dandy per country per century,” Umberto Angeloni, chief executive officer of Caruso, said, pronouncing doom on the sillies still seen slouching around here dressed up like Oscar Wilde. “There has to be something under your hat besides your hair.”
It hardly matters that the dandies seen in flocks here (dandies are evidently herd animals) have failed to heed Mr. Angeloni’s message. They remain out in force in their snug, taut trousers of Prince of Wales check, cuffed well above the ankle; hourglass jackets in Highland tweeds; pocket squares erupting from breast pockets; monk-strap shoes in strenuously distressed finishes; and felt fedoras, sometimes with a pheasant feather tucked into the band. “It all looks a bit heavy,” said Nick Sullivan, men’s fashion director of Esquire.