We need the physical world, especially in fashion: digital is not the panacea. We met Antonio Cristaudo, head of the selection of Pitti Uomo brands.
Epicurus said, In medio stat virtus inviting people to enjoy the pleasures of life with a healthy moderation. In other words, to stay away from extremes. Antonio Cristaudo, brand selection manager and the creative soul of Pitti Uomo, the most important menswear exhibition in the world, thinks like Epicurus when it comes to the digital world. It is not the panacea.
Extreme positions must be smoothed. Digital helps us, but it’s a mistake to think it solves everything. The physical experience is fundamental, especially in fashion.Antonio Cristaudo
Can’t fashion be only digital? Yet we hear “never again without.”
«Fashion has created its digital experience facing this particular scenario we live in. It couldn’t do otherwise. However, it is not true that the digital has completely solved the problem. From the buyers’ point of view, digital cannot replace the physical world; it only accompanies it. For our product, the tactile aspect is crucial. Digital has helped in the communication of the brands during the lockdown. In terms of timing, it takes three times longer to place an order online than when you’re in the showroom. And there is no comparison when it comes to teamwork. When you’re in the same room or nearby rooms, it’s different. It works better. Always working remotely can become a form of alienation».
So can smart work be alienating too?
«It can be a different form of alienation. Those who work only remotely ultimately feel disadvantaged not having an interaction with their colleagues. How do you build a connection remotely, each from their own home? Us, the Pitti Uomo team, are working in our offices in compliance with the safety regulations, and working together actually is appreciated by everyone. When working remotely is a one-time thing, then it’s ok, but if you relegate people to work at a distance all the time, it’s alienating. The companies talk about cost reduction, but productivity in a more stimulating environment is different. Out of then people, two work better remotely, the other eight have problems. One needs to have the right mindset and not suffer from a lack of interaction. Webinars should not become a compulsive tool either: they must make real sense and depend on who manages them!».
What is the digital influence in the fashion world? Will we all be smarter?
«On the one hand, the streetwear explosion, which had interested every area, had started to downsize a bit to make room for the coat comeback. But lockdown and partial immobility subverted the patterns. People were moving less; they were looking for more comfortable clothes. There was a gap between what fashion foreshadowed and what happened. The world relaxed a bit, and the aggressive street approach got outdated. So it’s safe to say that clothes had to adapt to contemporary life in mobility, very close to the casual world. The situation imposes more consciousness and attitude in the choice of high-quality things. Apart from the phenomena related to big brands, everything will be more moderate, with less waste. Beautiful fabrics, more careful choices».
What is the real trend of men’s fashion?
«I would say the tech atelier. In other words, the sartorial translated into technical. For a long time, we have been thinking about a new way to “go out” in the urban air. We created the format “I go out,” and we interpreted it with a city spirit two years ago. Actually, the trend was born in metropolitan Japan. It was the Japanese who mixed the concept of performance in the city.
The trend is technical materials designed for the city, and COVID has made it even stronger. The companies themselves interpret it in their collections. And it is a concept of dressing that is well suited to the smart way of working that digital allows».
Fashion can’t be exclusively digital. What can never be missing in your suitcase?
«The essentials to change twice a day. And accessories for the daily personal care routine. Then, blue is my black. I love it in all shades, from sky blue to ultramarine blue. The shirt jacket is also one of my favorite items».