Fortezza da Basso – Florence (Shaka Maidoh)
Mode Words….Giacomo Valentini
Mipel 104 September 2013
Street Mode….Thompson Street – New York (Vanessa Hong)
Pyer Moss SS14 – NYFW
Mode Words….La Touché
Street Mode….Hats (Anastasia Pedrini)
Art Comes First – The DJ Project
On your Marc! Get Set! Jump!
10 Secrets of Catwalk
Mode Words….Giacomo Valentini
Innovation, quality and tradition are just some of the words that feature very highly on Giacomo Valentini’s list when describing his company, which is more like a family. President and founder of the Orobianco Group, Giacomo has passion for creativity and drive for excellence that is reflected through his company and personal life.
In just under 18 years, Orobianco has gone from conception to being one of the most technologically advanced luxury bag manufacturers in the world. However, saying Orobianco is simply just a bag company is a massive understatement, especially with products ranging from helicopter engineering, Cafes in Japan, watches, sparkling wine and fragrances, just to name a few.
I sat down with Mr. Valentini, at one of his state of the art factories in Gallarate, Italy, to gain a better insight into the genesis of the Orobianco group, what the future holds and of course that all important “Made in Italy” tag.
ModeHunter: The best place for us to start is the beginning. So, how did the Orobianco Group begin?
Giacomo Valentini: Orobianco started as a dream and an idea 18 years ago, whilst I was travelling in the Tibetan region as a Cashmere consultant. Within this area was a goat, which produced one of the best cashmere products and was the lively hood of the people based there. The Cashmere goat is very important and the local people refer to it as their “white gold”.
White gold in Italian is oro bianco, so at that moment I made a bet with myself that if the name is not registered as a company, I would change my life and start a new business.
Upon returning to Italy I found the name was not registered, so this gave birth to my new adventure. To this day, you can see the Cashmere goat is still embedded within the Orobianco logo.
MH: Before this epiphany and life-changing trip, what was your focus?
GV: For many years before I worked within the chemical industry specialising in Polyurethane and also within the refrigeration industry.
I come from a family that has a rich history of business people. In 2014, my great-grandfather’s company will celebrate 110 years of business whilst my fathers company will celebrate 60 years.
I was involved in the family business but, unfortunately, due to large investments in the former Soviet Republic and Iraq, the company encountered financial difficulties. At the time, even though I was a manager for a multi-national company, it would have been impossible to recover depending solely on my wages so I had to start something new.
MH: So you had to start completely from scratch.
GV: Indeed, I started Orobianco from zero, with very little money in my pocket and just an idea. I noticed finance companies were investing money into fashion houses to boost the brand name and image. Very little attention was being paid to the production side, which in turn caused the artisans and small producers to suffer as they were historically know to sub-contract for these big companies. All the production was starting to move away from Italy, away from England and to countries with cheaper production.
My idea was very simple; I wanted to start collecting the experience and the manufacturing knowledge that was being lost, so I started designing within their studios and taking in all the historical expertise.
Later down the line, I was able to employ these craftsmen and start our own production within Orobianco, which is why at present Orobianco is one of the most technologically advanced companies in the world.
MH: Your versatile background and knowledge must have been priceless when starting Orobianco.
GV: Exactly. All my experience gained within the chemical, refrigeration and mechanical industries was transferred into my new venture. This is why within Orobianco you can find an amalgamation of technology. We are not simply a fashion manufacturer or bag manufacturer, we are a group focused on making varied quality products in Italy.
MH: How important is the “Made in Italy” tag.
GV: We have a great respect for the words “Made in”. In my opinion it is wrong to write off all products made in China or Vietnam, for example, as a “bad” product. What we simply focus on is a product that embodies our background and our experience. Something that accentuates our history. The “Made in Italy” is very important for us as it encapsulates all the artisans, history and knowledge. The same is for “Made in UK”; this is why we are entering into a new venture in which product will be made in the UK. In the future it is possible that we will also research products that are good to manufacture in Japan. Where ever it is, as Orobianco we respect and stay true to the words “Made in” and want people to understand the value of products being made in a specific country.
MH: Orobianco has grown substantially over the last eighteen years. What has been the core of your business model to ensure such growth?
GV: I like this question. As I mentioned, when I started Orobianco there was very little money and, unknown to many, I spent the first three years without wages.
I wanted to fully understand and develop the history and establish what “Made in Italy” represented. I then wanted to focus on exporting to one country and I chose Japan. In Japan, they require the highest standards when it comes to bag manufacturing, as well as, being highly specialised. Bags are very important within Japan’s society and it is something utilised by all genders and age groups on a daily basis.
I spent three years travelling to Japan just to understand the needs within the bag industry. I discovered there wasn’t a unisex bag in existence, so I created one.
The first ten years of Orobianco we only had eighteen members of staff and it was the most difficult, but I told them if we pass these first ten years the proper way then we will have the correct foundation on which to grow.
MH: So the ten-year test worked?
GV: Well, ten years is a short and also a long time. One of the limitations we discovered during that time was the artisans world is aging and there weren’t any young people in the system. What we wanted to do was to upgrade the system, so we employed the new generation who understood how to operate highly sophisticated machinery and employed the older artisans who were aware that the machinery could make their craft even better. So information was passed between the older and younger generations. We also we have a program which has produced it’s first graduate, the older modellers teaching the younger generation all the modelling and tooling in the traditional way.
MH: Taking the best of both worlds to keep helped with your growth?
GV: Exactly, we are looking for continued growth over the next ten to fifteen years and by educating the older generation and training the next generation we are ensuring the continuation of knowledge. Having a company is similar to an army. On the field you have generals who are older and more experienced and you also have the soldiers who have the energy. Companies are not something created just to put money into your pocket! A company is a network, a community, an opportunity to give jobs to families. Unfortunately I have lived through moments when some of my father’s companies had to close and even twenty years later the memory is still fresh.
I don’t just see myself as a president or shareholder of Orobianco, I am a skipper and I want to be a good skipper. The moment there is someone who is able to make the sailing better I will hand it over to the new skipper and do all I can to assist in providing the correct route to travel. My mission from now on is to create a team that take over after me.
MH: When you started Orobianco you were designing, how involved are you still with the design process?
GV: I love design and still am very much involved with the process. Because of the complexity of my schedule now it is difficult to sit at a desk drawing but thanks to modern technology I can scan my drawings whilst travelling and send them through to the office. Thankfully we have a design team that can then interpret the sketches and begin working on the designs.
Sometimes the team tells me we don’t even know how to create a something realistic from my sketches so there is a discussion and a process before the bag can arrive at production.
MH: Will there be a point where you hand over the design process totally?
GV: Coming from a sports background I understand that you cannot continue at the same speed and strength, as you get older.
I am very proud to have a talented design team who understand the importance of transmitting something from paper to an actual product. We have an archive of Thirteen thousand models documented on computer so in the future we will be able to reference these models to create new ones and also analyse the designs to see what we haven’t made as yet.
I am sure the team will be able to function independently of me within the next five years.
MH: Where do you find inspiration to create and come up with new ideas?
GV: I am always visually stimulated, especially when I travel. When visiting different countries I like to just sit and watch people walking by. I observe how they carry their bags and try to understand the needs of the people via the silent messages they transmit. Whether their bag doesn’t hold their laptop correctly or if the bag is too bulky; all of these things create ideas.
I also enjoy studying history, reading old books, studying art; all of these things give me ideas for my own interpretation.
MH: When you aren’t travelling for work or creating new designs what do you do in your limited spare time to relax?
GV: I have always enjoyed sailing and used to be involved with sailing competitions, which I haven’t had much time for lately but it is something I will get back into. Initially I will be part of the crew but I know how to be a good skipper.
I love Judo, which was part of the reason I travelled to Japan when I was eighteen and I am currently starting back Aikido training as it encourages fitness. I think it is very important to keep active especially as you get older.
I also read a lot whenever I can; I am always interested in learning and understanding more.
For more information visit www.orobianco.com and view the latest collections.
Mipel 104 September 2013
The premier international handbag and leather goods fair, Mipel is now in its 52nd year, and as a guest of Orobianco, I was privileged to attend its 104th show. Buyers, exhibitors, visitors and press came from all over the globe and filled the grand Fiera Milan Exhibition Center to view the upcoming season’s innovative collections’ of briefcases, handbags, tailored bags, suitcases, trolleys and much more. Exhibitors from Europe, Asia and South America presented their newest creations, enticing and intriguing the visitors during this four-day extravaganza of forth-coming trends, must-have buys and future developments.
Giorgio Cannara, Mipel president, recognised the quality of Orobianco’s brand and contributions to the market, thus requesting the newcomers be featured at this year’s show. Clearly it was not only the president who has taken note of the beauty of Orobianco. Whilst there, the Orobianco group won two awards for having the best stand in the hall and another award for innovation, best quality and spreading the Made in Italy message worldwide Three well deserved awards.
During my time at Mipel, I was impressed and excited by the creativity and quality of many brands. With such amazing craftsmanship, it is understandable why Italian luxury goods, are still sought after worldwide, leading to an increase in export and revenue in the first half of this year.
Pyer Moss SS14 – NYFW
Label: Pyer Moss
Date: 9th September 2013
Images & Review: Darrel Hunter
I have to admit, before attending the Pyer Moss SS14 presentation, at Milk Studios, I wasn’t very familiar with the brand but I was very happy with what I discovered. This is easily one of my favourite menswear collections for next season. With it’s sharp lines, it’s a collection where I see myself wearing practically every piece displayed.
Created by New York resident Kerby Jean-Raymond, it is hard to believe that this is only the second Pyer Moss collection given its quality and expert craftsmanship. Kerby Jean-Raymond expertly blends creativity, innovation and use of luxurious fabrics presented in a simplistic yet exquisite manner.
Gentlemen if you haven’t heard of Pyer Moss, definitely look into the brand and also check out the Autumn Winter 2013 collection. And if you already know, keep an eye out for his Spring 2014 collection, believe me it is exciting.
Mode Words….La Touché
Standing at 6’6” (198cm) it isn’t very hard to pick La Touché out in a crowd but it isn’t only his stature that sets him apart. His amazing sense of style and the ever present variety of hats that crown his head certainly set him apart.
La Touché’s life is filled with vivid signs which suggest his love of hats is no accident. His earliest memories and inspiration appear to stretch wider and deeper than the brim of the black trilby hat which he perched on the table next me.
I caught up with La Touché on a lovely sunny afternoon in London for a chat, over a cup of tea of course, to find out how his love of hats began.
La Touché: “My love of hats dates back to when I was around 5 or 6 years old. My early memories were of my Grandmother helping my late Grandfather get dressed. On special occasions, when my Grandmother had finished dressing him, sometimes in a suit, he would ask me to go and fetch his hat for him. My Grandfather wore a trilby hat which sat perched on the top of a huge wardrobe. I recall climbing up the face of this wardrobe and stretching to retrieve this hat for him. For me when he was dressed in his suit, he was just Granddad; but once he put his hat on, he became a whole different person”.
ModeHunter: So in your eyes the hat changed his whole persona?
La Touché: That’s correct. I was completely fascinated by his hat. It amazed me how that one accessory could change a whole outfit. It was at that point that my passion for hats was born and I started to discover the many variations.
MH: So as you grew did your appreciation of hats grow with you?
LT: Most definitely! I went through various phases. During my early years, I lived in baseball caps; this was all I used to wear. I think I was also heavily influenced by Pharrell Williams at the time and so I sought out any hat featuring an embroidered ‘P’ on it: it could be a trucker hat, a snapback or fitted cap, whatever it was, I wanted it. I even went as far as calling myself “Skateboard P” at the time [laughs].
As I mature, I appear to relive my early childhood memories of my Grandfather by seeking out the older gentlemen style hats of the 1950’s and 60’s and incorporating these hats into my own style. I’m really enjoying the journey through the gentlemen’s style eras; I have a better appreciation for hats and what they represent than I did before. It isn’t just about trilby or fedoras, there’s also room for snapbacks, beanies or berets for example. I will even go into milliners and see a nice fascinator, I may not wear it but I can still appreciate its beauty.
MH: So do you have a favourite style or hat?
LT: My favourite style hat has to be the trilby. Just before my Grandfather passed away, he gave me one of his hats, which is a trilby so I have a certain attachment to it. He’d had this particular hat since the early 1940’s. Knowing my Grandfather as I do, I can say that this hat has survived many storms and so I wear it with pride. What’s surprising is that it is still in really good condition; when I take it to show various hat makers they comment on its high quality and age. One thing that I find really cool is that I am actually the same hat size as my Grandfather. How he knew at the time that his hat would fit me when I grew up is a mystery but I find it really interesting that we are both hat size 58.
MH: Do you have a favourite brand of hat?
LT: No not really, it is quite hard for me to stick to specific brands as I like hats as a whole so whenever I find something well made that I like, I tend to go with that. I really like what Lock & Co are doing. When it comes to the more commercial brands, I literally take my hat off to the likes of Brixton and Baileys: they are producing some unusual shapes and colours which are really impressive. Having said all of that, I don’t really have a favourite; I wear many different hats in the space of just a week.
MH: Do you find it difficult to source your hats around London or have you found a few options?
LT: There are quite a few quality milliners and hatters around London. I have been fortunate to learn from them the difference between a well-made hat and a cheaply made hat. For me the quality is very important as I like to purchase hats that are of good quality and made to last. Good aftercare of the hat is also important.
MH: If you were limited to wearing only two styles of hat for the rest of your life what would they be?
LT: Oh, that is difficult. I get excited by the hats I’ve seen worn by men in the Jewish community whenever I travel through Stamford Hill or Clapton in East London. I see their hats and I want to melt! It’s the shape, the size, the material, the wideness of the brim everything just excites me. The second choice would have to be a good trilby. Give me a nice wide brim and a good trilby and I’m set.
LT: It may sound really silly but the hat always comes first. For example the outfit I chose for the first day of LCM was centred on the bowler hat I was wearing. Traditionally bowler hats are quintessentially English. At its inception, it was a favourite among the working class of the early 1900‘s and then became very popular among formal gentlemen. A bowler hat deserves a full three-piece suit, whereas with a fedora or trilby I would be thinking more about smart/casual dress.
MH: So the hat is the foundation?
LT: I love hats more than clothes; as long as I have a hat on I’m happy.
MH: Are their any future plans to infuse all this love for hats into your own range of hats?
LT: I am currently working on a few things, collaborations and designs; I’ll be sticking to the hat universe rather than venturing further into the fashion environment. I would much rather have boxes of hats than a box of free clothing. I believe that my passion for hats will generate even more collaborations and opportunities. Also I am working with milliners, doing work experience there to learn more about the craft. I also had a talk recently with ‘Hat’, a premier hat magazine and even they were impressed by my dedication to hats, especially for someone at such a young age.
MH: I’ve noticed lately that you have been mentioning “Hat About Town” quite a bit on your social feed. What exactly is Hat About Town?
LT: Hat About Town is a movement celebrating hats, hatters and milliners. I didn’t want to start a blog because it is not something I just want to write about. I love hats so much that I realised that I needed somewhere to vent and release all of this energy. Hat About Town is about documenting the journey of hats through photography and prose. In ancient times, hats were used for practical reasons to provide shade. Moving into the 1930’s to 50’s, hats completed a uniform or finished an outfit on special occasions. Moving into the 60’s and 70’s people started wearing hats as fashion statements. What I want to do is bring that love for hats back and encourage more people to wear hats. People always have reasons for not wearing hats such as “my head is too big/small” or “it doesn’t go with my hair”. But once you establish your hat size you can wear any hat.
LT: Personally, I don’t think there is a limit when it comes to hats. It doesn’t matter what anyone says, as long as you love it and it looks good on you then you can wear it with confidence. That is what I want Hat About Town to be about, it’s there to inspire people to wear hats for the first time and if they already do, then to experiment wearing a variety of hats. It’s also a platform for the talented hatters and milliners who so often go unnoticed. There is no rule when it comes to wearing hats, as long as you are wearing the right size its cool. Be creative, adventurous and wear whatever you think compliments your character.
To find out more visit www.hatabouttown.com
Art Comes First – The DJ Project
Inspiration clearly flows abundantly, when it comes to this Artistic Creative Family. Fresh from their acclaimed “The Coal Project” which impressed not only at Pitti Uomo 83 but around the fashion world, the Art Comes First collective were at it again. The ACF revolving collective comprised of Shaka Maidoh, Sam Lambert (ACF), Matteo Gioli (Super Duper Hats) and Liam Maher (Denham) joined forces to produce something wonderful.
This season “The DJ Project –The DJ Technique Applied to Menswear” again showed the importance of Allowing Creative Freedom within the fashion world. Inspired by various talented musical artists the ACF team spent each day sampling, cutting, remixing and sewing.
Musical pioneers represented by vintage pieces were delicately deconstructed and mixed with modern day innovators with the deft touch of a skilled DJ. Just like any master of his craft that knows his crowd, these gentlemen kept the throng captivated, sampling and mixing without missing a beat.
The final result was a presentation of Amazing Creative Fusion showcasing the various menswear items that had been constructed with superior skill, right before our very eyes by these inspired craftsmen.
On your Marc! Get Set! Jump!
Anyone who knows me, follows this blog or is even vaguely familiar with me will undoubtedly be aware of my great appreciation for all things Marc Jacobs, both the brand and designer. I can only describe my reaction as one of sheer excitement when I was contacted by the Marc Jacobs Intl digital team asking to feature one of my images on their page.
Viktor & Rolf Spicebomb
Video: Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin
Model: Sean O’Pry
Images: Darrel Hunter for ModeHunter
When it comes to fragrances I normally stick with a few carefully chosen favourites that I am certain work with my character and body. I am very selective and if I decide to stray away from my strict list I spend time assessing the options as if I was choosing a life partner. Ok, well maybe not that intense but I am sure you understand the analogy. I know many friends and family members have had to suffer through my painfully anal shopping trips, as I like to take my time until I am fully satisfied before making any purchases.
On the rare occasion, a new fragrance will come along that captures my attention and I immediately purchase it without any hesitation. On an occasion such as this I was walking through a department store only to be ambushed by an eager fragrance lady with a new scent from Viktor &Rolf.
Aptly named Spicebomb, and shaped like a grenade, this new fragrance is an explosion of sexiness with a kick of sweet, aromatic sensuality without being overpowering once you pull the pin and release the trigger. One whiff of the odoriferous ‘Spicebomb’ was enough to convince me that I needed to purchase it and judging by the responses I have received while wearing it, I can see I made the right choice to add it to my current selection.
Oh, and as an added bonus each box of Spicebomb contains a special code that can be used in the “Secret Service” section on viktor-rolf.com giving you access to various behind the scenes inspirations and information from Viktor & Rolf.
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Below, in no particular order are my current top mens fragrance choices:
Marc Jacobs Men
Marc Jacobs Bang
Dolce & Gabbana The One
Jean Paul Gaultier Le Male
Issey Miyake Pour Homme
Vera Wang for men
Viktor & Rolf Spicebomb
Ysl La Nuit De L’Homme
Bvlgari Pour Homme