by Karen Alberg Grossman
Another day in the 90s but slightly less oppressive than yesterday. The morning walk to the Fortezza was much enlivened by street music, a carousel and colorful floral designs as we entered Pitti Uomo.

First stop: Tommy Hilfiger, where we saw some fabulous street styles and learned about the brand’s new digital approach to business that’s impacting everything at both wholesale and retail.

From there, we went to Woolrich and enjoyed their updated classic approach to menswear and some surprisingly contemporary women’s designs. Barbour was another favorite: both the men’s and the women’s, with shades of bright orange and beautiful blues adding much spark to their spring ’18 collection, which included some great nautical prints for men.

And speaking of beautiful blues, they are a mainstay at Luigi Bianchi Mantova/L.B.M.1911, but the focus for spring ’18 will be on unexpected shades like burgundy, green mixed with blue, and various soft neutrals. We loved all the new soft coats, especially some great knits in cotton-linen blends constructed more like a sweater than a sportcoat. Andrea Benedini, once MR‘s most eligible bachelor (and now married and the father of a four-year-old daughter and two-year-old son), explains how the business is evolving internationally: “In Italy, half the business is in slim fit (7-inch drop) and half is very slim (8-inch drop). In the rest of Europe, its 90-10. But in the U.S., it’s virtually all 7-inch drop. We’re also making special lightweight fabrics for southern stores in the U.S. that can’t sell 350 gram wool suits. Since Marc Spero joined our team, we’re merchandising differently for the American market and it’s working!”

I loved the casual tailored spring collection at Baldessarini, consisting of lots of denim and modern trousers ($175-$250 suggested retails), gorgeous soft coats and modern jackets (most $599-$699) and some beautiful lightweight knit tops in cotton/cashmere. The spring outerwear at Herno was also sensational, featuring beautiful fabrics, great colors, exciting designs, and a new collaboration with Laminar Bikes. (My favorite: the camo-printed hooded zip front in an incredibly lightweight fabric!)

Finally, at PT Pantolino Torino, Edoardo Fassino showed us a most diverse spring ’18 collection. We especially loved the advanced styling of the “Forward” collection where pants were notably shorter and looser and more comfortable, many in technical fabrics. Will these sell in America? Fassino believes it’s still too early to predict, as American men are first getting comfortable with slim fits! But the real beauty of this brand is all the fabric innovation, from cotton-linen blends to wool-mohair to lyocell blends to the most precious fibers one can imagine, many exclusive to this brand that works directly with the mills. A new capsule pant collection designed by Italy’s most famous car designer, Fabrizio Giugiaro, is another exciting component of this amazing brand.