January 11, 2013 11:03 am

Florence Menswear: day one

Paris stalwart Kenzo is lured to Italy with drop-shouldered sweatshirts and men’s jewellery

If it’s Thursday on the menswear calendar, it must be Pitti Uomo, aka the Florentine menswear shows. And on Thursday at Pitti, Kenzo was the draw on the schedule. Kenzo usually sits on the Paris schedule, but this season was lured south by the Italian trade fair and for their show, held on the first floor of Florence’s main market hall, they brought with them about 50 looks, plus a list of their favourite market traders. If you’re in Florence and you want some tripe, head for Giunti Emilio.

Kenzo also had a stand set up outside the show to sell the brand’s T-shirts and socks alongside the usual residents of the market, who tried to sell their salamis and cheeses to the departing fashion crowd, most of whom were probably still on their post-Christmas panic diet. In the end, it’s all just product. That’s the post-luxury reality obsessing the conglomerates, needing to find ways to keep increasing profit (see Balenciaga’s hiring of Alexander Wang to try and dust off on them some of his T-shirt magic).

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And indeed, for owners LVMH, the now product-heavy Kenzo has become a sudden proper little earner. People now actually want to wear the label, especially the young with just enough left in their overdraft to buy a logo sweater.

I could have done with a judicious cull of about 20 of the runway looks, especially the suits, which looked of no real purpose. If someone was going to buy a suit, would they go to Kenzo? Unlikely. What their new customers want from them is bits that are fun, which here meant a padded jacket with an intense repeat print of a tigers head, or a multicolour striped top where the bands go off in different directions (it was shown with matching trousers. It’ll look better with normal jeans).

The most covetable piece was a drop-shouldered sweatshirt with a baby-blue body and black arms black, a white band dividing the two. What else? There were new printed rucksacks, a collaboration with hard-shell bag company Boblbee. And then there was the introduction of men’s jewellery, including lightening bolt tie-pins and fasteners. Product. Yum.

For the final analysis of all the London collections, see the Life & Arts section in the weekend edition of the Financial Times. Daily reports from Italy begin on Friday at www.ft.com/fashionweek

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