Favouring the Underdog
There are some realities in the world that are kept from us by an illusory curtain, until the time comes to actually experience them first hand. As so many other things in life, fashion also plays a part in this universe of illusions, which is more apparent to some than others…
I won’t get too deep into the issue of branding, as by now it would be almost like preaching to the choir, but I’d like to write a brief reflection and bring forth some topics on why I favour smaller labels.
First and foremost, I hope enlightenment has come to you at some point that big names and reputation don’t necessarily translate into quality; unfortunately, in some cases, it’s quite the opposite. Don’t get me wrong, most fashion giants deserve their hardly-earned reputation. I’m a fan of some of them, but the truth remains that the values, legacy and heritage left by their founders are slowly being put to shame by an ever-growing urge for profit. Bear with me…Of course at the end of the day it all comes down to business, fashion represents massive revenues, but in my modest opinion, business can be run in several ways.
Working in the industry for some time now, has opened my mind to the harsh realities behind major labels. For me, the biggest disappointment was witnessing how passion is lost throughout the years and profit alone dictates everything as newer generations and luxury groups take over. I wholeheartedly believe passion has to be part of the equation, in order to create a connection to consumers and actually produce something unique (that stands out for something other than a particular label). Common scenario…Imagine a brand that starts out set to deliver quality and attention to detail in each piece, sourcing the best fabrics and working with the best manufacturers (within its budget): say the original retail price is €100.
Lots of hype, global praise and several raving reviews later, it assumes a cult/exclusivity status, allowing it to increase prices to + €300 (not all manage to do it, but there are several successful examples out there). Although it’s stellar to achieve such an increase in margin and markup, let’s keep in mind they were already making money to begin with…So, one would think that the logic thing to do would be to make the most of this extra breathing space and try to upgrade your product, slowly and even if ever so slightly: better fabrics, materials, quality and craftsmanship, all while enjoying the recent found success of course.
Reality is quite different I’m afraid. Once that leap occurs and brands gain market recognition and dimension, the majority of them work exactly in the opposite way, pressuring manufacturers for lower prices often achieved at the cost of all of the aforementioned. As fashion becomes ultimately a question of numbers, where major brands are run by financial departments, it’s up to us as consumers, experts or aficionados, to actively make thoughtful choices and spend our hard-earned money where it’s actually worth it, instead of merely considering insignias or status.
Miguel Amaral Vieira
Onfront SS14 Neckwear Collection
Buttero embraces woven leather for SS14
"The Herring" (5’8”) by Feelflows Surfboards
Feelflows Surfboards is my brother’s latest project, focused on a surfing and skating universe reminiscent of old-school California. This fish model is one of my personal favourites as fabric finds its way into unexpected uses: the floral print on the board is actually from Lightning Bolt’s collection and simply elevates the board to a whole new level.
Man 1924 AW14 Pitti Preview
Apart from a few exceptions, most of the brands I look forward to seeing at Pitti host their collections on the venue’s secondary pavilions. Within that small universe, MAN 1924 just happens to present some of the strongest arguments to lure me to the main building…
Simply put, Carlos Castillo’s label consistently delivers outstanding garments, set in a tailoring history and tradition while blending everything with a dash of its bold Spanish heritage. You know what you’re in for: luxurious fabrics, high-end craftsmanship and tailored pieces suitable for the everyday wardrobe of modern men, all perfectly styled through a mix of patterns, textures and accessories. In way, it feels almost comforting stepping into a stand where you know that virtually any garment has the potential to be incorporated into your style, achieving the perfect balance between classic and modern.
I believe it’s this balanced nature that makes it so appealing, to the point where I find myself sharing the stand with some of the most interesting personalities around, be it team Armoury or GQ’s Justin Doss and Jim Moore. A reflection of Mr. Castillo’s personal style, the collection presented a curated selection of polished suiting options and topcoats, along with more casual parkas, macs, blazers and as usual, beautiful foulards.
Ph: Beyond Fabric
Feit AW13 Accessories
I have a thing for supple burgundy leather…
Moeve and Morrow Knitwears Lookbook
Believing that a perfectly decorated home, featuring the sheer beauty and clean lines of Scandinavian furniture is an essential step to achieve “comfort of mind”, Japanese brand Moeve and Morrow aims to translate the concept into knitwear. Focusing on imbuing its collection with both physical and emotional assets, its pieces establish a deep connection to the comfort of Home and living.
Bespoke Excellence - Biagio Santo
Although not as prone to change as its counterpart, menswear has also experienced its share of cyclical trends, coming and going as both society and designers saw fit. Throughout the years, garments and accessories rotated in and out of the men’s fashion scene, with recent years seeking strong inspiration in early menswear influences, namely through the comeback of accessories. However, during this period, a handful of staple pieces prevailed, only to become menswear essentials in their own right. Among those, few carry such a timeless and quintessential connection to gentlemanliness as the tie.
I recently came in touch with Mr. Leo Faggiano: entrepreneur, artist, traveler, stylist… a man with a rich and unique background in the fashion business. Having studied arts in Rome and London, Leo then moved on to work with André Laug, one of the most renowned designers at the time, granting him the opportunity to travel the world and meet some of fashion’s most influential people.
Nowadays, he’s manager at one of the oldest and most exquisite bespoke tie manufacturers in Europe: Biagio Santo. Founded in Salento, Southern Italy, Biagio Santo brings to life the unique beauty and craftsmanship of traditional tailoring, acquired through a lifetime of dedication and passion for the art. The sartorial skills and techniques are now applied to a variety of luxurious neckwear and pocket squares, entirely handcrafted according to customer’s specifications. Their offerings include a wide array of available fabrics to choose from, including an exclusive vintage library and they are able to craft every model you can think of: 3 fold, 6 fold, 7 fold, unlined, the works. Crafted by an experienced team of tailors and seamstresses, each specialized in a particular step of the manufacturing process, every item is unique and embodies the brand’s values of perfection and excellence.
Oliver Sweeney AW13
Yuketen SS14 Pitti Preview
Paramount quality and authenticity are the most common denominators that come to mind when talking about Yuketen. Built upon the premises of delivering unique artisanal craftsmanship, Yuki Matsuda’s label has become a worldwide reference for all those seeking the highest standards in footwear. Crafted solely by skillful and experienced artisans, its unique take on both classic and trademark models, merge a variety of influences that makes each pair unique. The upcoming SS14 collection carries on an array of updated classics such as boat shoes, loafers and mocs, as well as new features such as jagged rubber soles for added comfort and a unique feel. I wouldn’t dare to choose a favourite, but I must say those whole-cut slip-ons definitely caught my eye…