Italian Fashion Brands Make a Novel Pitch: ‘Real Clothes’ | Kanebridge News
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Italian Fashion Brands Make a Novel Pitch: ‘Real Clothes’

At men’s fashion week in Milan, straight-legged jeans and utilitarian jackets with European tailoring dominated the runways: ‘It’s not just about jersey T-shirts and sweatshirts’

Fri, Jun 23, 2023 8:30amGrey Clock 4 min

The streets of Milan are alive with the sound of English. On baking June afternoons, American tourists in droves are ordering veal Milanese in trattorias, snapping selfies outside the Duomo and toting around bulging shopping bags from keen luxury labels like Zegna, Armani and Gucci.

This season, the Italian fashion labels are delivering a wealth of wearable fodder to feed those paper parcels: The weightiest trend on display at Milan men’s fashion week, which wrapped on Monday, was a predilection toward what could best be described as “real clothes.” Brands like Prada, Neil Barrett and even the high priests of baroque styles, Dolce & Gabbana, sent out focused collections built upon items like straight-legged jeans, pin-sharp black suits and tailored shorts.

MILAN, ITALY – JANUARY 15: A model is walking the runway at the Prada fashion show during the Milan Menswear Fall/Winter 2023/2024 on January 15, 2023 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Daniele Venturelli/WireImage)

“The beauty of today is that people are finally looking at real clothes again, and it’s not just about jersey T-shirts and sweatshirts,” said Barrett backstage after a show of wardrobe fundamentals like graphite short-sleeve shirts, gray trousers and polished black boots from his brand, which is based in Italy. Barrett, who is British, was returning to the runway after an extended hiatus and drew inspiration from the archives of his own brand and his many years working at another Milan-based label, Prada. “There’s real people out there with real businesses,” who need real clothes, he said.

Raf Simons, co-creative director of Prada, also gave a shout-out backstage to the “real man” and the uncomplicated things he wears: “jeans, pants, a white shirt, utilitarian photographer’s jacket.” Several looks in Prada’s well-received collection echoed the workmanlike style of the artist Joseph Beuys.

Simons said he and Miuccia Prada began with the elemental white shirt, sprawling out to include curt pleated shorts, straight-cut jeans and button-up-weight blazers with button cuffs as a new, very literal update on the shirt jacket.

Simons also said the pair was looking at how to “liberate” the codes of tailoring from as far back as the 1940s to plumb a fresh form of sartorial ease. Those featherweight, lapelled shackets had removable shoulder pads. “Every piece is actually really constructed like a shirt, there’s nothing inside, whether it was shirt material or wool,” he said.

Overall, the wares at Milan fashion week conveyed cultivated European luxury. Americans “want a taste of culture, they want a taste of connoisseurship, they want a taste of elegance, old money is in style, and more than that, quality is in fashion,” said the content creator known as Gstaad Guy, a British-raised, U.S.-educated 20-something whose droll Instagram videos wryly lampoon old-money culture. He was speaking after a dinner for the luxuriant Italian label Loro Piana. “The fact that the affluent of the U.S. are now very Eurocurious, vacationing more in Europe and spending more like Europeans, is not a coincidence,” he said.

He shrewdly drew a comparison between the traditional old-money labels in America and abroad. While the gold-buttons-and-popped-collars preppy look of entrenched U.S.-founded brands Brooks Brothers and Vineyard Vines has been mothballed for years, the allure of more aspirational, easy-wearing European luxury brands is only surging.

“I’ve always found European style just more tailored and stylish,” said Andrew Weitz, a Los Angeles-based style consultant to entertainment and finance executives. “That’s what I try to bring to all my clients at home. It’s how we should all be dressing.”

Weitz was pleased then by the sea of Americans he saw frequenting Milan’s tony shopping promenades. “You can see the influx when you walk around in Milan on Via Monte Napoleone, like how many people actually are here, how many people are actually purchasing,” he said. Their presence reflects a broader trend: According to a report from travel-insurance company Allianz Partners, travel to Europe from the U.S. is up 55% over the last year.

Throughout Milan men’s week, designers offered options in ease-stoking staples that felt as carefree as an afternoon in the Lombardy sun.

1017 ALYX 9SM., known for its hard-edge, heavily-treated creations, showed a capried gray sweatsuit and a serene matching pant set that looked like something plucked from a karate dojo. Valentino presented a medley of swoopy off-the-calf shorts and past-the-elbow T-shirts; and Giorgio Armani dove in with prodigious pleated linen trousers and buoyant double-breasted suits.

They were pieces that nodded reverently to Armani’s own extensive archive—a veritable Library of Alexandria of elegant ease. Many of the immense trousers looked nearly identical to the same well-aged Armani pants that 20-something shoppers are searching for on the cheap at resale sites like Depop and stores like New York’s Lara Koleji.

“I think young people are loving to be quite untouched by the clothes,” said Etro creative director Marco De Vincenzo, just before a show peppered with a bevy of barrell-size shorts and kicked-out pants that stretched into JNCO territory.

“I have to now educate all my clients that, hey, we’re not so tailored and tapered, [pants are] looser, more easy in the thigh and the bottom,” said the style consultant Weitz, just before a Zegna show brimming with roomy linen trousers and off-the-body overshirts. “You’re going to see in the next few years Americans catch up.”

First Via Monte Napoleone, then the world.


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At the World Plogging Championship, contestants have lugged in tires, TVs and at least one Neapolitan coffee maker

Wed, Oct 4, 2023 4 min

GENOA, Italy—Renato Zanelli crossed the finish line with a rusty iron hanging from his neck while pulling 140 pounds of trash on an improvised sled fashioned from a slab of plastic waste.

Zanelli, a retired IT specialist, flashed a tired smile, but he suspected his garbage haul wouldn’t be enough to defend his title as world champion of plogging—a sport that combines running with trash collecting.

A rival had just finished the race with a chair around his neck and dragging three tires, a television and four sacks of trash. Another crossed the line with muscles bulging, towing a large refrigerator. But the strongest challenger was Manuel Jesus Ortega Garcia, a Spanish plumber who arrived at the finish pulling a fridge, a dishwasher, a propane gas tank, a fire extinguisher and a host of other odds and ends.

“The competition is intense this year,” said Zanelli. Now 71, he used his fitness and knack for finding trash to compete against athletes half his age. “I’m here to help the environment, but I also want to win.”

Italy, a land of beauty, is also a land of uncollected trash. The country struggles with chronic littering, inefficient garbage collection in many cities, and illegal dumping in the countryside of everything from washing machines to construction waste. Rome has become an emblem of Italy’s inability to fix its trash problem.

So it was fitting that at the recent World Plogging Championship more than 70 athletes from 16 countries tested their talents in this northern Italian city. During the six hours of the race, contestants collect points by racking up miles and vertical distance, and by carrying as much trash across the finish line as they can. Trash gets scored based on its weight and environmental impact. Batteries and electronic equipment earn the most points.

A mobile app ensures runners stay within the race’s permitted area, approximately 12 square miles. Athletes have to pass through checkpoints in the rugged, hilly park. They are issued gloves and four plastic bags to fill with garbage, and are also allowed to carry up to three bulky finds, such as tires or TVs.

Genoa, a gritty industrial port city in the country’s mountainous northwest, has a trash problem that gets worse the further one gets away from its relatively clean historic core. The park that hosted the plogging championship has long been plagued by garbage big and small.

“It’s ironic to have the World Plogging Championship in a country that’s not always as clean as it could be. But maybe it will help bring awareness and things will improve,” said Francesco Carcioffo, chief executive of Acea Pinerolese Industriale, an energy and recycling company that’s been involved in sponsoring and organizing the race since its first edition in 2021. All three world championships so far have been held in Italy.

Events that combine running and trash-collecting go back to at least 2010. The sport gained traction about seven years ago when a Swede, Erik Ahlström, coined the name plogging, a mashup of plocka upp, Swedish for “pick up,” and jogging.

“If you don’t have a catchy name you might as well not exist,” said Roberto Cavallo, an Italian environmental consultant and longtime plogger, who is on the world championship organizing committee together with Ahlström.

Saturday’s event brought together a mix of wiry trail runners and environmental activists, some of whom looked less like elite athletes.

“We like plogging because it makes us feel a little less guilty about the way things are going with the environment,” said Elena Canuto, 29, as she warmed up before the start. She came in first in the women’s ranking two years ago. “This year I’m taking it a bit easier because I’m three months pregnant.”

Around two-thirds of the contestants were Italians. The rest came from other European countries, as well as Japan, Argentina, Uruguay, Mexico, Algeria, Ghana and Senegal.

“I hope to win so people in Senegal get enthusiastic about plogging,” said Issa Ba, a 30-year-old Senegalese-born factory worker who has lived in Italy for eight years.

“Three, two, one, go,” Cavallo shouted over a loudspeaker, and the athletes sprinted off in different directions. Some stopped 20 yards from the starting line to collect their first trash. Others took off to be the first to exploit richer pickings on wooded hilltops, where batteries and home appliances lay waiting.

As the hours went by, the athletes crisscrossed trails and roads, their bags became heavier. They tagged their bulky items and left them at roadsides for later collection. Contestants gathered at refreshment points, discussing what they had found as they fueled up on cookies and juice. Some contestants had brought their own reusable cups.

With 30 minutes left in the race, athletes were gathering so much trash that the organisers decided to tweak the rules: in addition to their four plastic bags, contestants could carry six bulky objects over the finish line rather than three.

“I know it’s like changing the rules halfway through a game of Monopoly, but I know I can rely on your comprehension,” Cavallo announced over the PA as the athletes braced for their final push to the finish line.

The rule change meant some contestants could almost double the weight of their trash, but others smelled a rat.

“That’s fantastic that people found so much stuff, but it’s not really fair to change the rules at the last minute,” said Paul Waye, a Dutch plogging evangelist who had passed up on some bulky trash because of the three-item rule.

Senegal will have to wait at least a year to have a plogging champion. Two hours after the end of Saturday’s race, Ba still hadn’t arrived at the finish line.

“My phone ran out of battery and I got lost,” Ba said later at the awards ceremony. “I’ll be back next year, but with a better phone.”

The race went better for Canuto. She used an abandoned shopping cart to wheel in her loot. It included a baby stroller, which the mother-to-be took as a good omen. Her total haul weighed a relatively modest 100 pounds, but was heavy on electronic equipment, which was enough for her to score her second triumph.

“I don’t know if I’ll be back next year to defend my title. The baby will be six or seven months old,” she said.

In the men’s ranking, Ortega, the Spanish plumber, brought in 310 pounds of waste, racked up more than 16 miles and climbed 7,300 feet to run away with the title.

Zanelli, the defending champion, didn’t make it onto the podium. He said he would take solace from the nearly new Neapolitan coffee maker he found during the first championship two years ago. “I’ll always have my victory and the coffee maker, which I polished and now display in my home,” he said.

Contestants collected more than 6,600 pounds of trash. The haul included fridges, bikes, dozens of tires, baby seats, mattresses, lead pipes, stoves, chairs, TVs, 1980s-era boomboxes with cassettes still inside, motorcycle helmets, electric fans, traffic cones, air rifles, a toilet and a soccer goal.

“This park hasn’t been this clean since the 15 century,” said Genoa’s ambassador for sport, Roberto Giordano.


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