I was in Florence in January to visit Pitti Imagine, perhaps the largest and most probably the best men’s fashion show in the world.

Searching for new suppliers to fill gaps and replace some makers who haven’t played the bat the way I like….

It’s a massive show, but it’s a relatively small trade…our premium grade shirts that we have made in Milan and have stocked the past 12 years, have reduced their fabric ranges and offer, so I was keen to meet with the old sales director, who is now with a new maker and I placed a sample order with him and anticipate a long relationship with this artisan company who have extensive cloth ranges and really does do hand work!

We aren’t big enough as a company to compete with the shirt giants selling 4 for £100, so we concentrate more on making our three grades of shirt to a quality and not down to a price.

Hand made means handmade and hand finished means…hand finished…..many of the features on our premium shirts are sewn by hand, and we will offer both!

We found a very stylish and practical trench coat from a designer who was ex Burberry and had given a practical and modern look to this timeless classic.

Umbrellas with whanghee handles in golds, brown, Paisley and stripes as well as classic black are already in our umbrella rack, from the January visit.

I pressed flesh with the palms of many agents and suppliers and decided there in January to return to Florence again, with my boys and fit a day trip in, to Milan to visit the renowned trouser house of Incotex, which I will cover later.

Aside of Pitti Imagine , a visit to Florence wouldn’t be complete for me without visiting the beautiful Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella…a magnificent former monastery , which makes the most exquisite colognes and soaps. I was introduced some 20 odd years ago by a friend in New York and I’ve worn it ever since.

If when you have visited Rhodes-Wood, you noticed the fragrant odour of sandalwood?…. it is usually burning on the lamps imparting it’s woody fragrance…..within the shop and to the street beyond, except that is, when it smells of shoe wax and Labrador’s!
I have a meeting in London with S M Novella, early March to discuss bringing a range of their fragrances to Harrogate……I will keep you posted.

A cultural city, Florence and the backdrop to one of my favourite films and soundtracks, Hannibal.

On both trips I probably ate my body weight in pizza!…. a long time favourite of mine. At home I have a double pizza oven and buy Caputo flour from Italy and if I say so myself, turn out a pretty mean pizza.

The tomato sauce, needs some work but it’s made me search out the best.
In Florence ‘La Bussola’ ….. is of note and sitting up at the bar in front of the pizza chef, I watch his deft skilful hands turn out bases with the minimum of effort and no rolling pin in sight!
Funnily enough in London at Del Fino on Mount Street , I always seem to be sat opposite the pizza chefs and they have kindly imparted some gems of advice.

Nothing fancy about this London restaurant but it is full to capacity every day and it doesn’t break the bank.

I might put a video on later, of me ‘skipping’ a la boxing style as eating pizza takes its toll on the waistline!

Temperatures were as low as -5 in January , yet beautiful sunny and clear at night. The goose down quilts we have in the shop by Schneiders proved to be excellent in cold temperatures.

In February, at home I lost the weight I gained stuffing in pizza and returned to Florence late February with my two youngest sons Freddie and Charles, who some of you will have met in the shop on Saturdays .

They loved the city and you can’t fail to be impressed by the magnificence and scale of the Duomo.

The multitude of streets with shops that look small from the outside, yet are huge inside ….have a Tardis effect and are filled with products.
As we turned a corner of one of the many streets, we were faced with magnificent statues………“Ah culture…boys” , I said.
“Yes Dad….brilliant!, the Stone Island store”….
…..mmmm…. in time, I’m sure.

Yet, this February trip was a four days holiday with my boys, with the opportunity to visit Milan to see Incotex and of course some of the city attractions, thrown in.

Incotex are a renowned trouser maker and were established in 1951….I’ve been in some impressive showrooms during the 40 years I have been in the trade, and their showroom was up there with the best.

Their top line of trousers are almost in the league of Ciffoneli and contain an amazing amount of work that is rarely seen due to making the price prohibitive for many at £700 per pair plus!

However they are a joy to the eye and to be appreciated.
I bought from the chino, jeans and trouser lines and I look forward to showing you in Autumn the quality of what is arguably one of the best chinos in the world.

One last pizza before catching the flight back home (6 in 4 days is worthy I think of honorary Italian status)….I ‘squeeze’ into my seat on the plane and start to wonder….“where did I put my skipping rope?”
Ciao