Who Is On Next?, the annual design competition set up by Pitti Immagine, in cooperation with Altaroma and L'Uomo Vogue to highlight young talents who produce their collections in Italy focuses on menswear each summer session at Pitti in Florence and this season six new names stepped into the spotlight. The prize is 5,000 Euros and the opportunity to stage a special event at Pitti's winter edition next January, but beyond that this is the chance for Italy to promote a new generation for fashion.
This season's winner, Erïk Bjerkesjö, who turns 30 next month, shows just how international Italian fashion has become. From Stockholm, Bjerkesjö studied at Florence's Polimoda where he focused on footwear, learning the trade through internships with skilled Tuscan craftsmen. "With this collection I wanted to express a post-modern look within a classical gentleman's silhouette." he says. After graduation, the designer launched his own brand and now divides his time between Sweden and Italy where he does all his shoe production in Vinci, the little village where Leonardo comes from. Starting with men's shoes, which are hand beveled and betray their classic look with a few post modern holes punched in here and there, Bjerkesjö has now launched into clothes. This season he found inspiration close at hand. "Fashion is sitting in an atelier and doing something artisanal. It's about handing down experience from one generation to the next," says the designer whose collection is inspired by the Tuscan shoemakers he works with. "These are classic men who sit bent over their work smoking cigars all day. They dress in white shirts, but they're a bit frayed around the edges," he explains. Accordingly Bjerkesjö took his mixed fabric white shirts and put them in the washing machine with shoe polish for a smudged look. There are also work vests with plenty of tool pockets and pants that look like shorts over leggings to allow working men to bend down without wearing out the knees on their pants.
Andrea Cammarosano won a special mention from the Who is On Next? jury and a prize from Italian internet shopping site YOOX, which means that they will be selling pieces from this collection soon. The 27-year-old designer from Trieste, studied at Polimoda before assisting Belgium's Walter Van Beirendonck, but now he's based in San Francisco where he teaches fashion when he's not in Italy to produce the collection.
Cammarosano was thinking about dandies in an abstract way for his extra-large tailoring in beige and navy chino with braided belts. His collection is full of handmade prints from marble swirls to uneven dots and haywire stripes, which give his collection a casual, laid back air that he says he picked up over the past six months in California. "Of course I love Italian production, but when I entered the US Green Card Lottery and won, I couldn't resist," says Cammarosano who is selling through the London-based website 6080 and at Mac in Hayes Valley, California. Next September he plans to take over a flower shop in New York and present his collection there.
Francesco Alosi, 28, studied in Paris but now he divides his time between his native Sicily and Bali where he's opened a store. Making pieces he sells himself in a place like Bali where he has also gained a word of mouth clientele from stores in nearby New Zealand, means he has a very precise idea of what men want in hot weather. Sleek tailored jackets in rayon sweater knits with a bit of nylon keep their shape in the heat and recall the laid back elegance of luxe seaside resorts in the 1930s. Alosi is also doing shorts in fine knit and polo piquet and a few embroidered tees, which is all an elegant beach bum needs really.