June 30, 2009

Homecoming for Bread & Butter Berlin

After 4 successful years in Barcelona, one of Europe’s most prestigious trade shows is returning home!

For the next 3 days, Berlin will be the host to 550 designers and brands, as well as a potential audience of 100,000 visitors from more than 100 countries.

Undoubtedly, Bread & Butter has become one of the most important European trade shows in the urban wear and street couture sectors—and for some of us, it’s menswear heaven on earth!!!

After a short welcome tonight by Berlin Mayor, Klaus Wowereit, Swedish group "Mando Diao" will kick off the event, followed by different bands each night, such as Jazzanova, Eight Legs, and many more.

By day, visitors are welcome to hang out at the Luna Park to catch a fashion show by G-Star or check out the Wheel of Death motorbike show by Wrangler.

BBB has signed a 10-year contract with the city of Berlin, so for some time to come the venue will most likely be the former airport Berlin-Tempelhof, a C-shape complex of 7 airport hangers.

Photo Copyright Bread & Butter.

June 29, 2009

What the Designers have been Saying

I would like to take this time to thank all the readers of Men’s Fashion by Francesco! As you know, I write these articles simply out of my passion for menswear and for your reading pleasure.

I am extremely excited that interest in Men’s Fashion by Francesco has sparked around the world, receiving nearly 5,000 hits in June alone, with readers from 80 nations!

I spend multiple hours researching each designer and label as I dig into their upbringings, inspirations, hometowns, and cultures, seeking for nuggets of gold that influence their designs.

Like yours, their positive feedback is a satisfying reward. So, here’s a little more of what they have been saying:

Sun Lee for Blue Notch Jeans
Thank you so much for the beautiful writeup...we are all thrilled!! You captured the brand’s spirit so eloquently!

Petter Hollstöm, Odeur
I think you have written a very good post about Odeur. It really makes me happy when people understand what we try to accomplish, and you explain it in an exceptional way.

Attilio at St. Louis Fashion Week
Great blog! Not only did I enjoy your in-depth treatment of designers, I'm impressed with your great eye for up-and-coming coming talent.

Chris Cheng, LAB
Ty from the heart for the kind words and interest again. Such a joy to read and well researched, the ref points are exactly my thinking and reason behind—always gently European and Japanese inspired and with nod to art—meanwhile with both artist I studied their works and fell in love with.

Candice of Saint Augustine Academy
Many thanks for your great post about Saint Augustine Academy; I love the detail that you have included. It’s a great piece. Thank you again.

Marcus Kersch, Kornerd
Thanks for that…I checked it out…looks great!

Pedra at Zaiceck
I just read your article—fantastic!

Carolyn Massey
Great…many thanks.

Umit Benan
It’s great. Thanx.

Tibor of Chris&Tibor
Fantastic work…thanks so much for promoting us and our collaborator friends on your blog!

Chi Zhang
I have seen the article; it is very very nice! I like your writing.

Sean at Wrath Arcane
Looks great!

Christian Kurt of AnnTian

Max Kibardin
I would like to thank you so much for the beautiful article.

Marcus Larsson, Ljung
Thanks a lot for you nice article at your page. Very nicely made!!

Elena, PR for Falling Empire
I've read your article and I liked it. I'll show it to Ruslan Minzhinskiy and Tanya Andreychenko.

You may find previous responses at What the Designers are Saying..., What the Designers Keep on Saying..., Some More of What the Designers Are Saying.

June 28, 2009

ETHOSENS and the Notion of "Gentleman?"

The question mark in the latest collection of ETHOSENS sums up the thrust of this emerging menswear label, and more...

In fact, the 2009 a/w collection entitled “Gentleman?” drops a bombshell, not only on our personal concept of masculinity but also on our limited notions of manhood, casting doubt on our traditional styles!

ETHOSENS is a Japanese label that was born out of a twofold pursuit: “ethos,” which stands for habit, and “sens,” simply meaning sense.

We are all creatures of habit to one degree or another. So ETHOSENS takes what is habitual and, by making it inconsistent with our traditional concepts, beckons us to innovative discoveries that can become future standards for us.

Only by heightening all the senses can bring a new sense of values into the world. So, designer Yui Hashimoto applies an ethical sense of incongruity to the habitual rules of menswear.

After graduating from Esmond Tokyo, Yui graduallly unfolded his label, first, under the name of ETHOS in 2003, later becoming ETHOSENS in 2007.

I find this collection very timely with all the emphasis on styles like English dandyism and British gents.

So, sit back and enjoy the collection; but don't forget to answer the probing question: “Gentleman?” To be or not to be…

Photo 2009 a/w collection “Gentleman” Copyright ETHOSENS.
Slideshow 2009 a/w collection “Gentleman” Copyright

June 27, 2009

Laitinen—Finland's New Tune

Helsinki is a unique city in many ways. Unlike most others around the world, this urban sprawl reaches across several bays and peninsulas. With a population of more than a million inhabitants in the greater area, Helsinki is the largest city and capital of Finland.

Starry nights by day, the midnight sun, and reindeer prancing across the Lapland are just a few of the romantic images that come to my mind at the mention of this Nordic country. Mostly flat and sparsely populated, Finland is home to 187,888 lakes and 179,584 islands.

Great names have also originated in Finland, such as the cell phone giant Nokia! Ah, how well we all know that tune—the first musical ringtone on a mobile phone and probably the most played around the globe!

Well, there is another name emerging from this fascinating country—Laitinen—which premiered this week during Milan Fashion Week at a new event called White Homme.

Although Laitinen found its start in 2006 after winning 1st prize at the fashion design festival and contest of Hyères in France, this menswear label was officially launched in the Autumn of 2007.

Born in 1979 and 1974 respectively, brother and sister team Tuomas and Anna Laitinen are the originators behind this tune, which is being heard more and more around the world!

After graduating from the University of Art and Design in Helsinki, Tuomas obtained an MA from Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London; while Anna studied Art Pedagogy at the University of Art and Design in Helsinki.

Reflecting the stark long wintry nights of the Nordic tundra, Tuomas and Anna combine refined materials and detailed cuts into a melancholic harmony of contemporary style.

So the next time you hear that ring, think about Laitinen—Helsinki’s new menswear tune!

Get this widget Track details eSnips Social DNA

The Nokia Tune taken from classical guitar solo, Gran Vals, by Francisco Tárrega and written in 1902.

Photo top right Tuomas and Anna Laitinen Copyright Agentur V.
Slideshow 2009 s/s collection Copyright
Agentur V.

June 26, 2009

2010 Color Forecast by Pinklemon

Designers, retailers, fashion reps, and buyers are not the only players in the menswear industry that have to stay up to date on color and style trends, but so should the savvy consumer!

If you are like me, there is little worse than spending a lot of money on a new purchase that has either already gone out of style or is soon on the way out! For this reason, I am always on the lookout for seasoned researchers that perform trend analyses.

The other day, I read an inspiring article by Pinklemon, a trend research and consultancy agency situated in Århus, which, by the way, is the principal port, the second largest city, and a major center for education in Denmark. So, what can they teach us?

The Pinklemon team has already forecasted the color themes for Spring/Summer 2010, graciously offering us a sneak preview of the 2010 Fall/Winter palette! That's what I call "peering into the future"!
Well, here are some excerpts from their general Spring/Summer 2010 trendbook:

Grunge Garden
Old gardens with their beauty of decay and neglect. Nature as inspiration for colors and prints. Outworn garden wear is combined with redesigned classics to show off a slightly eccentric, soft and urban eco-look. Stoney greys, earthy browns, and leafy greens - affected by falling rain, with blurred tones from withered flowers.

Memory Lane
Walking down memory lane, enjoying childhood memories, looking at old photos and postcards, almost forgotten and yellow with age. A look inspired by the 50's and 80's. Colors inspired from old photographs, milk and honey and grandma's old jars with preserves. . . warm neutrals in combination with soft pastels.

Country Fair
A sweet and rural country mood, lazy summer days perfect for picnics and garden parties. Casual farmers wear mixed with 70's hippie boho, happy summer days, mix and match. . . Bright and delicate colors from flowerbeds, grass fields and the blue sky.

The Collectors
Collecting and gathering ideas and inspiration from art and crafts. . . A global breeze from all continents. . . Colors are deep and intense, active and beautiful, subtle red tones create new contradictions with yellow and browns. Prints are large exotic flowers, batik, rustic squares, micro patterns and black stripes.

Urban Landscapes
A return to the 80's? Not just so, the inspiration is certainly there, but it is not retro. The future is here in this clean story. . . An exclusive metropolitan look with an avant-garde touch from origami and pleats. Materials are smooth and shiny, soft and dry. Paper touch and soft fluid fabrics. Lightweight knits. Beautiful and elegant tone-on-tone harmonies.

As for autumn/winter 2010, well, take a walk through your local forest!

Photo top center Århus Copyright Pinklemon.
Photos of forecasts Copyright
Excerpts used with permission, Copyright

June 25, 2009

Blue Notch Jeans—Denim with a Soul

If anyone were to earn the title of denimologist, surely it would go to the Korean husband and wife team, Jung Ho Noh and Nara Chu, who embarked on their professional romance with denim in 1996.

Sharing a deep passion, they launched their label, Blue Notch Jeans, in 2007 with their main office in New York City.

Blue Notch approaches denimology with a sense of alchemy, combing the disciplines of philosophy, history, and art with modern chemistry and scientific experimentation.

The love story begins with the highest grades of cotton from Egypt, Cameroon, and Zimbabwe. The fabrics are then produced in Japan, in a factory boasting 115 years of history—the first to combine modern technology with the use of natural indigo dyes.

Washings take place close to the design team in Korea, within a region rich in natural springs, which permit the team to experiment with sophisticated dying techniques. A filtration system has been installed to protect the pristine quality of the natural water.

In the 2009 a/w collection, Blue Notch has introduced 30% linen and cashmere into their denim for a wrinkle-free silhouette with a vintage finishing performed by means of broken needles and a newly developed coating technique.

Blue Notch Jeans—the denim that breathes life!

Photo 2009 a/w collection Copyright Blue Notch Jeans.
Slideshow 2009 a/w collection Copyright Blue Notch Jeans.

June 24, 2009

MoutonCollet: Sometimes Silence is Silver

The Belgian countryside is a peaceful setting, abounding in plowed fields, farm animals, and greener than green vegetation.

When I lived and worked in Brussels for a year several years ago, I used to ride my bicycle for kilometers, far outside the bustling city and deep into the still countryside.

It is this memorable world of Belgium’s farmlands that two Belgian designers, Matthieu Mouton and Nicolas Collet, have captured in their very androgynous line of jewelry.

Matthieu, 28, and Nicolas, 29, have been friends since childhood, launching their line of jewelry just three years ago.

Based in Belgium with a studio in Paris, MoutonCollet is ironic, paradoxical, and stylishly whimsical, showing that silence is not merely golden but can be silver as well!

Photo top left Copyright MoutonCollet.
Slideshow Copyright

June 23, 2009

Pitti Uomo’s 14 New Beats: Yoshiyuki Ogata

Japanese menswear designer, Yoshiyuki Ogata, numbered among the 14 new beats chosen by Pitti Uomo.

Although Yoshiyuki is not totally new on the international fashion scene, he is definitely a rising star, reaching the shelves of boutiques in London and Los Angeles.

Yoshiyuki derives his inspiration from the Sengoku era (1467-1617) in Japan—the Warring States Period—when Japanese men wore culotte-like trousers with sleeveless-sideless vests and broad sleeve coats.

Yoshiyuki also models his shoes after tabi, which were the socks that split, or divided, between the big toe and the four smaller ones.

Yoshiyuki’s claim to fame was his award-winning outfit that he designed for Japanese model, Kurara Chibana—first runner-up of Miss Universe 2006—who sported the best national costume, which Yoshiyuki fashioned in the samurai-ninja style.

Yoshiyuki’s aim in menswear is to establish the unique masculinity of the true Japanese.

Photo top right by Clngre, Public Domain at Wikipedia.
Slideshow 2009 s/s collection Copyright Yoshiyuki Corporation.

June 22, 2009

Shudy is a "Shoe Ready" New Beat at Pitti Uomo

New Beats is the area that Pitti Uomo dedicates to fresh designer talent and spanking new debuts.

Now in its 12th season, New Beats showcased 14 emerging brands and rising designers at the 76th Edition of Pitti Uomo. Among them was Shudy, an innovative line of men's shoe wear from Italy.

Shudy is a collection of recycled plastic and rubber-soled shoes, finely perforated for comfort, which comes in a kaleidoscope of multiple colors, ranging from dainty pastel tones to scrumptious sorbets.

The style—a reinterpretation of the classic moccasin. As for inspiration, Shudy looks to the Dadaist and Surrealist champion of art, Marcel Duchamp, and to the movement known as Cracking Art.

The Cracking Art movement was born in 1983 with a strong social and environmental commitment to revolutionize contemporary art through the creative use of plastic materials. Borrowing its name from the process of converting petroleum into plastic—a conversion of the natural into the artificial—Cracking Art seeks to fill the gap between man's organic past and synthetic future by means of recycling plastics to produce provocative art installations.

As for Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968), he was a French artist who found mundane objects to present as artwork, such as a bottle rack or bicycle wheel, coining the objects “readymades.” The most influential yet controversial readymades include a urinal that he renamed a “fountain” and a portrait of Mona Lisa with a mustache, to which he ascribed Elle a chaud au cul, implying "the girl was horny!

The connection to Shudy? Shu stands for ‘shoe’, whereas dy is an abbreviated form of ‘ready’. Hence, Shudy is shoe ready!

Recycled, the shoe line is a resurgence of readymades—ready to make a radical social and environmental difference!

Photo top left by Carl Stas, Public Domain at Wikipedia.
Photo middle right from Cracking Art
Slideshow Copyright Shudy.

Milano Moda Uomo—Milan Men’s Fashion Week 2009

For the past 50 years, Italian fashion has stood center stage around the world, becoming synonymous with master craftsmanship, elegant taste, and attention to detail.

Like every year, for the past two days Milan has stood center stage as the runways have begun to sizzle with some of the world’s hottest models at Milano Moda Uomo—Milan Men’s Fashion Week.

With the goal of promoting "Made in Italy" around the globe, the event is organized by the Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana (the National Chamber of Italian Fashion), which was founded in 1958.

This edition of the event will host 93 collections, 41 catwalks, 34 presentations, and 20 presentations by appointment only of the world’s most famous menswear designers, who are showcasing their 2010 Spring/Summer collections.

As you know, my radar is honed in on less-known, emerging menswear designers and brands from around the world rather than those who have already become a household word.

Nevertheless, this emphasis does not diminish my respect for or interest in the “big guys,” who stand at the helm of the men’s fashion industry.

So if you are curious about next year’s trends, check out the collections and enjoy the show at Fashion Mag.

Photo top right June 20, 2009 presentation at Palazzo Clerici, Copyright Camera Moda.
Photo bottom left June 15, 2009 press conference with Giulia Pirovano, Anna Zegna, Mario Boselli, Jo Squillo, Copyright Camera Moda.

June 21, 2009

Pitti Uomo's Special Guest: Undercover

Well, the doors have officially opened and closed for the 76th Edition of Pitti Uomo, which was held June 16-19 in the beautiful Renaissance city of art, Florence, Italy.

Although the brands in attendance were far too many to list, you may search them by style, specific item, country, and more on the Pitti Immagine Uomo N. 76 Exhibitors’ List page.

For the next few articles, I will highlight some of the main events surrounding emerging designers.

The special guest at the 76th Edition was Japanese label, Undercover, designed by Jun Takahashi.

Born 1969 in Kiryu of the Gunma prefecture (100 km from Tokyo), Takahashi studied at the Bunka Academy of Fashion. But before graduation, the young student had already developed his Undercover brand, along with classmate Tomoaki "Nigo" Nagao, who went on to found A Bathing Ape, otherwise known as BAPE.

Striking a balance between fashion and art, Takahashi seeks to evoke emotions of terror, youthful unrest, and his own sense of peace with himself as he merges music, cinema, street wear, and Japanese art of cartoon comics known as Manga, which dates back to 1874.

Photo Undercover 2010 s/s collection by Giovanni Giannoni, source Pitti Uomo.
Slideshow Undercover 2010 s/s collection by Giovanni Giannoni, source Pitti Uomo.

June 20, 2009

Spurr on Spurring the Vintage Silhouette

Simon Spurr was born 1974 in England, going on to obtain a B.A. in Men’s Fashion Design from Middlesex University in London. But it was his father—a banker in Borough Green, Kent, who sported finely tailored suits—that helped define Simon’s trademark; namely, the luxurious, vintage silhouette.

Before launching his own brand, however, Simon spent 12 years working as a designer for some of the world’s best like Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, and Yves Saint Laurent. No wonder, last year, Simon was nominated by GQ as one of the “Best New Menswear Designers in America.”

Rather than designing merely for the design itself, Simon approaches his work like an architect, adhering to the principles of functionality and proportion, to create men’s pieces that are timeless and elegantly iconic.

His philosophy stipulates that menswear should emphasize the man and not the wear. Therefore, men should first purchase the appropriate size; that is, the one that fits like a glove. Secondly, men should choose one garment that will attract most of the attention, while the rest simply compliment.

Simon is not often seen sporting complete outfits; rather, he prefers to mix it up a bit, combining expensive designer items with pieces of inexpensive vintage.

As for production, Spurr denim is made in LA; whereas the rest of the collection is Italian-made with English, Italian, and Japanese fabrics, all of which are designed to last a lifetime.

In an interview with the LAist, Simon related that Keanu Reeves, Tom Cruise, Zac Efron, and Will Smith all wear Spurr denim.

For the 2009 s/s collection, Simon drew his inspiration from the styles of radically diverse social classes in London. The 2009 a/w collection takes a modern slant on the theme of exploration.

Photo 2009 a/w collection Copyright Spurr.
Slideshow 2009 a/w collection Copyright

June 19, 2009

"Who Is On Next" was on at Pitti Uomo and the Winners are...

The winners have been announced for the young designer competition "Who Is On Next" that was held for the first time at Pitti Uomo in Florence, Italy!

First place was swept by the German-born Turkish designer Umit Benan, who presented a collection of menswear that flew the audience back to the jetsetters of pre-revolutionary Cuba!

Congratulations Umit!

Second place went to the Russian-born designer Max Kibardin, who so elegantly blended nature and architecture in to a classic collection of men's shoewear.

Third place was claimed by the Italian-Columbian duo Fabio Sasso and Juan Carlo of Leitmotiv, who featured a menswear collection fashioned by surrealistic styles.

Photo Copyright Umit Benan.

June 18, 2009

Odeur "Surfaces" with a New Scent

Fashion labels have typically branded their image through some sort of visualization techniques; hence the emphasis on visual merchandising. Moreover, many brands accompany their presentation with audible effects, such as with music or just a jingle. After all, the goal of every marketing campaign is to be seen and heard!

But the Swedish label Odeur is taking the practices to another dimension, spawning new concepts like multi-sensory brands, poly-sensory merchandising, and total brand experience. Loyal to the meaning of its name, Odeur not only wants to be seen and heard but also smelled!

Sure, we have all scratched and sniffed perfume ads in our favorite magazines, and most of us have shopped in stores that pump aromas into the air, particularly during the holiday season. But Odeur's concept is different.

A clean, androgynous, citrus-like fragrance has been lightly infused into the fabric of every garment, lasting up to a dozen washes! Some postulate that a memory-enhancing fragrance can create an emotional experience, which may better facilitate customer loyalty.

Odeur was founded in 2006 by Petter Hollström, who designs the collection along with Anna Lidström and Gorjan Lauseger. Based in Copenhagen, the team has labelled the 2009 a/w collection "Surfaces."

So, click on the slideshow below and get a scent of Odeur's new collection!

Photo top center 2009 s/s collection Copyright Odeur.
Slideshow 2009 a/w collection "Surfaces"Copyright

June 17, 2009

Elia Maurizi & "Who Is On Next"

Elia Maurizi is the last designer that I will be able to cover of the 7 finalists for "Who Is On Next," the young designer competition created by Alta Roma in conjunction with Uomo Vogue and to be presented tomorrow at Pitti Uomo.

Elia was born 1981 in Macerata of Le Marche region in central Italy, an area abundant in hills and hilltop towns. For a year, I lived in a neighboring town, also situated far up on a hill and surrounded by a robust medieval wall.

Once a week, I used venture to the outdoor market in the center of Elia's birthplace. The palazzi in Macerata are striking, some dating back to the 12th century. Ah, the memories!

Well, Elia not only received a formal shoe design education in Italy but he also apprenticed with one of the best craftsmen—his father—who owns a shoe factory.

In May 2008, Elia decided to launch his own unisex shoe collection, which plays on irony, simplicity, and an innovative taste for things of the past.

Photo top right by Idéfix, Copyleft at Wikipedia.
Slideshow 2010 s/s collection Copyright Elia Maurizi.

Pascal Gautrand & "Who Is On Next"

Tomorrow is the big day for the 7 finalists of "Who Is On Next," the young designer competition organized by Alta Roma in collaboration with Uomo Vogue, which will be unveiled for the first time at Pitti Uomo in Florence, Italy.

One of the 7 finalists is Pascal Gautrand, born 1974 in France, who initiated his fashion education at Esaat in Roubaix, going on to study at the Institut Français de la Mode in Paris.

Pascal began his fashion career through freelance, designing a T-shirt collection for the Belgian label Own and producing costumes for the play writer Veronique Caye. So just how did he wind up in Rome?

The French Academy in Rome awarded to Pascal a scholarship, which entails a one-year residency at the historic Villa Medici. Starting in October 2008, Pascal went down in history as the first fashion design resident at the Villa.

Pascal's research in Rome centers on the mass production of unique pieces, which he bases on the heritage of made-to-measure garments in Italy and Europe.

At the competition "Who Is On Next," Pascal will present a collection of shirts entitled Made in Roma, which he developed in collaboration with Roman shirt maker Roberto Marino.

I had the privilege to sneak in a exclusive last-minute interview with Pascal, who was gracious enough to answer my questions:

Can you tell me a little about where you are from and how that has influenced your career?
I was born in a very small city in the south of France, named Mazamet; this is near Toulouse. In the 60's, long before I was born, it was a major center for the textile industry, specialised in wool. This is a detail, but I think this was decisive for me to choose fashion. Being born in this city, I am very much interested in the production of fashion, and not only in the aesthetic of it.

Do you have a certain philosophy behind your designs?
Just designing a new garment is not my point, I believe designing fashion is not only designing clothes but also designing the fashion system.

Tell me more about the Made in Roma collection...
The MADE IN ROME collection is about how, where and who produces the shirts, not only about what they look like; this is why I chose to work with a made-to-measure shirt maker. Roberto Marino only sells shirts to Roman customers who want classic shirts. With this line, we can touch a more global target who are not lucky enough to live in Rome and have a contemporary vision of bespoke garment...

What drew you to fashion design and, in particular, to menswear?
Menswear is more about the same small wardrobe and how smart you are to be able to play with it. Menswear has more constraints than women's wear and this is what I like about it. Creation springs from constraints!!!

Best of luck to you, Pascal!

Photo top center Copyright Pascal Gautrand.
Slideshow 2010 s/s collection "Made in Roma" Copyright Pascal Gautrand.

June 16, 2009

Umit Benan & "Who Is On Next"

For the past several days, I have been posting articles on Who Is On Next, a competition created and organized by Alta Roma—Rome’s fashion week—and collaborated by Vogue Italia. So today, I would like to present another finalist, Umit Benan.

Turkish designer Umit Benan was born 1980 in Germany where he began cultivating from a young age a strong sense of creativity and a profound interest in fashion.

After receiving a bachelor's degree in Business from Boston University, Umit plunged into a deluge of fashion studies, attending Central St. Martin College, Parsons School of New York, and Istituto Marangoni of Milan, where he obtained a degree in fashion design.

Umit's creations typically portray self-assured men with strong personalities, confident enough to be challenged by a touch of femininity.

He designed his 2010 s/s collection peering through the lens of photographer Slim Aarons, who captured on film the glamorous jet setters of the 60's, 70's, and 80's in their Caribbean playgrounds.

His collection, however, centers on a fictional character—a pre-revolutionary Cuban businessman in his late 30's, dwelling amidst the joys of luxury in a mansion and surrounded by an entourage.

Partying around the clock, the businessman of Umit's collection embodies the characters of Tony Montana in Scarface and Diego Delgado of Blow, an all-time favorite of Umit Benan!

I wish you the best of luck, Umit!

Slideshow 2010 s/s collection Copyright Umit Benan.

June 15, 2009

Max Kibardin & "Who Is On Next"

I recently posted an article about Who Is On Next, a competition created and organized by Alta Roma—Rome’s fashion week—and collaborated by Vogue Italia.

As one of the seven finalists of the competition, shoewear designer Max Kibardin will present his 2010 s/s collection for the first time at the menswear fashion show in Florence, Italy, called Pitti Uomo.

Born 1976 in Siberia, Max Kibardin grew up in a family of shoemakers, going on to study architecture in Moscow where he nurtured a keen sensibility to structure and design, which he has tempered with elegance in each of his designs.

After a short stint in Paris, Max ventured to Milan where he not only worked with prominent names in the footwear industry but also launched his own collections of shoes and bags. Now, Max works as creative director of Lornezo Banfi and consultant to Furla Footwear.

Max derives great satisfaction knowing that his collections have caught the attention of major buyers from around the world. Max reports that even Britney Spears has sported a pair of his creations during her Circus Tour in the US.

All the best to you, Max!

Slideshow 2010 s/s collection Copyright Max Kibardin.

June 14, 2009

Anna Sosnovskaya: Menswear, Swimwear & Social Responsibility in Ukraine

Slightly larger than France, Ukraine borders upon many countries: Poland, Hungary, and the Slovak Republic to the west; Romania and Moldova to the southwest; Belarus to the north; and Russia to the east, with the Black Sea to the south. Ironically, Ukraine means ‘borderland’.

Traditionally, Ukrainian dress has a long history of sophistication, as garments were artistically embellished with fine embroidery and worn for different occasions and festivities, marking age, gender, and social status.

What is refreshing about the Ukraine fashion scene today is the emphasis that both designers and fashion events place upon social responsibility. One striking example is menswear designer Anna Sosnovskaya.

Anna is said to have been born with an innate seed of natural talent, which had already begun to bud at the age of 7 as was evidenced by her childhood sketches and designs. Rooted and grounded in consecutive years of hard work, Anna spouted onto the international scene, winning local and foreign competitions for her collections.

Today, Anna plays an active role in a social project organized by the Anti-AIDS foundation, Fashion Aid, in which she and other Ukrainian designers auction their color-themed creations, donating the proceeds to individuals living with AIDS.

Anna has also participated in Toys of Hope. Organized by the foundation Save My Life, Toys of Hope collects funds for apparatus that can diagnose early stages of cancer in little children. As you may know, the Chernobyl disaster of 1986 has been linked to thousands of cases of thyroid cancer, which, if detected early, can be treated.

Anna defines her style as "neoclassic" and "casual" with hints of influences from modern art and science. She creatively coins it minimum maksimalizm.

Anna Sosnovskaya 2009 s/s Swim- & Underwear Collection

Anna Sosnovskaya 2009 s/s Menswear Collection

Slideshows Copyright
Anna Sosnovskaya
Photo top center by Yakudza, Copyleft at Wikipedia.

June 13, 2009

Ukraine’s Falling Empire is All But Fallen!

Kiev, also written as Kyiv (Київ), is the capital of Ukraine, which, during medieval times was known as Kievan Rus'—said to be the largest and most powerful state in Europe.

In 1922, Ukraine was absorbed by the USSR, becoming a republic of the Soviet Union for nearly 70 years. But as the national anthem states, Ukraine's glory has not perished, nor her freedom. In 1991, Ukraine gained her independence.

Despite a long recession that ensued, Ukraine has bounced back to life, providing a springboard for new fashion, emerging designers, and innovative menswear brands like Falling Empire.

Although Falling Empire is the artistic creation of designer Tatyana Andreychenko, the label is the brainchild of Ruslan Minzhinsky, general producer of Music Motors in Kiev.

Ruslan had always nurtured a preference for the styles of the Soviet era, but in a renewed vane of USSR-glamour, which is so often depicted in the video clips produced by his studio.

Two years ago, Ruslan got an idea—Falling Empire—not an old rehash of Brezhnev’s wardrobe but rather a revitalized version of the era’s spirit to be presented in a collection of authentic designs.

Tatyana, who for years had designed the artists’ costumes for the video clips at Music Motors, breathed life into the vision.

Free from the boring rules, authoritative views, and worldly conventionalities of the Soviet regime, Falling Empire has converted what was common to all into a mark of excellence, worthy of the contemporary man’s wardrobe.

Have a look for yourself and see that Ukraine's Falling Empire is all but fallen! I love the kiss marks on the models!

Photo top center by AnnihilatorMell, Public Domain at Wikipedia.
Slide show 2009 a/w collection Copryright
Falling Empire.

June 12, 2009

“Who Is On Next” is On at Pitti Uomo

As the 76th edition of Pitti Uomo soon approaches, so mounts the excitement surrounding the best up-and-coming menswear designer!

Created and organized by Alta Roma—Rome’s fashion week—and in collaboration with Uomo Vogue, Who Is On Next will be held in conjunction with Pitti Uomo. But, pazienza everyone, we will have to wait until June 18 for the winner to be announced!

So just who are these emerging designers On Next?

Seven finalists have been selected: representing four read-to-wear and three accessory collections. Have a look and cast your vote!

Designers: Fabio Sasso is originally from the southern Italian city of Potenza and is a graduate of Dams Institute; while Juan Caro is from Bogotá, Colombia, and is a graduate of the Academy of Art.
Style: A blurring of art and fashion, male and female, past and future.

: Born 1976 in Perugia, Italy, Maria Vittoria Sargentini is a graduate of the Fashion Design Institute in Florence.
Style: Non-seasonal with a minimalist, avant-garde balance.

Made in Roma
Designers: Pascal Gautrand was born in 1974 and is a graduate of the Institut Français de la Mode. He collaborates with shirt craftsman Roberto Marino.
Style: Custom shirts with patchworks of classic shirting.

Umit Benan
Designer: Umit Benan was born 1980 in Germany and has since lived and worked in Istanbul, London, New York, and Milan. He has a BA from Boston University in the US.
Style: Inspired by Cuba, photographer Slim Aarons, and references to films “Scarface” and “Blow.”
Designer: Elia Maurizi is an Italian shoe designer whose father owns a factory that produces classic shoes.
Style: Eclectic, unisex footwear with influences from the American Fifties and the future.

: Italian, based in Florence.
Style: Luxurious shoes and bags in stretch suede, old sued, crinkle, and old romantic cow.

Max Kibardin
Designer: Max Kibardin was born in Siberia, Russia, and pursued his fashion career at Istituto Marangoni in Milan, Italy.
Style: Mathematical balanced approach to footwear, allusions to Alain Delon in “The Swimming Pool,” vibrant colors, and fine exotic materials.

Photo top left Copyright
Elia Maurizi.

June 11, 2009

Kornerd Presents "Axioms in Alchemy"

Based in Sydney, Australia, Marcus Kersch launched his label Kornerd in 2004. Now, in addition to his line of high quality menswear, Marcus has created a new line of silver jewelry.

Marcus, it is a privilege to know you! Where are you from originally?
Well I grew up and live in Manly, in Sydney's Northern Beaches.

In a nutshell, how would you describe yourself?
I am a surfer, graphic designer and artist, who dropped out of a degree in Architecture to pursue a career with my label Kornerd.

What made you change direction?
I simply found that, through this, I can better express myself, whether it be graphically through t-shirt prints, through garment or jewellery design, or in photography when creating a look or mood for different collections.

Are there any influences at work in your designs?
My work is influenced by history both ancient and modern, the world of alchemy, science, nature and the way in which these relate to one another.

I found your new line of jewelry attractively unique. What inspired you?
The pieces are inspired by "Elements," the books written by Euclid, the Greek mathematician and so-called Father of Geometry, circa 300BC. The principles he presented remain the basis of mathematics to this day, 23 centuries later. "Axioms in Alchemy" is my first collection of metal (silver) accessories.

Why silver?
I chose to use silver as it is a pure element, and the designs stem from certain "logical proofs" Euclid devised.

Where can the readers find your new line of jewelry?
With selected stockists in Australia, New Zealand and Japan, Kornerd is currently not stocked in the United States.

Thank you, Marcus, and all the best to you!

Photos 2009 a/w collection Copyright Kornerd.
Slide show Axioms in Alchemy Copyright Kornerd.

June 10, 2009

Machja, Milk & Menswear

Yesterday I posted an article on an eco-friendly line of menswear, Machja, which utilizes milk fiber in the production of their pullovers and sweaters.

Designers Jean Louis Rossi and Catherine Soundirarassou of Machja list the following benefits of milk fiber as:
  • protecting and softening the skin;
  • absorbing and conducting humidity;
  • giving a comfortable, airy feeling; and
  • being receptive to dying for fresh, long-lasting colors.

In order to make milk fiber, first, the milk must be dehydrated (or dewatered) and, then, skimmed. Afterwards, modern bio-engineering techniques are applied to render a suitable protein fluid for the wet spinning process.

Obtaining proteins from milk, however, is no new concept but rather dates back many centuries as it was performed for the purpose of binding paints.

The processes were greatly refined in the 20th century, just in time for WWII and the production of inexpensive wool substitutes.

Milk fibers can be blended with most other types of fibers and yarns, creating multiple nuances of effects for each blend.

Of course, not all eco-fashionistas are totally sold on the potential sustainable impact of milk fibers; hence, I welcome you to open a discussion.

But the motto still stands: Milk is good for your health...whether you drink it or wear it!

Photos Copyright by Machja.

June 9, 2009

Machja: Where Beauty & Biotees Converge

Our world may have only proclaimed 7 wonders, but the surprises that we encounter daily are uncountable! Would you have ever guessed that a sexy line of eco-friendly menswear would spring up on the shores of an enchanting Mediterranean island?!

Much like the history of Corsica, Machja has arisen out of a convergence of numerous cultures, nations, and peoples.

As for the island, first came the Greeks, followed by the Etruscans and the Romans. During the medieval period, Corsica passed hands from the Republic of Pisa to the Republic of Genoa, interrupted briefly by France.

In 1755, the Corsicans revolted and succeeded to establish an independent republic for about 15 years until it was purchased by France—right about the time when Napoleone di Buonaparte was born!

As for the label, Machja arises, first, from the convergence of Europe and Asia—the brainchild of Jean-Louis Rossi, a Corsican, and Catherine Soundirarassou, who is of Indo-Vietnamese descent.

Based in Bastia, the couple launched their eco-line in 2005, Machja, which, in the native language Corsu, means ‘spot’.

Adhering to the principles of fair trade, Machja sources pesticide- and chemical-free cotton from 300 farms in Maharashtra, India, and milk fiber from Yunnan, China. Organic denim originates from biological cotton that is produced in Uganda, bio-washed in Spain, and sown in ethical shops of Tunisia.

The sweatshirts and tees are assembled in a workshop located in the Tamil Nadu region of southern India. Run by a convent of Franciscan nuns who employ 120 disabled young women of the lower Indian caste, the worksite is monitored by the International Fair Trade Association.

Machja is upheld by three unmistakable pillars: respect for the individual, respect for the environment, and respect for the consumer.

Inspired by the charming isle of beauty, Machja is bioteefull!

Photo center left Bastia Copyright Machja.
Photo center top Bastia by Greudin, Copyleft at Wikipedia.
Slide show 2009 a/w collection Copyright Machja.

June 8, 2009

Il Viaggio & the New Travel Hybrid, Sweatjack

It’s that time again for Pitti Uomo, the men’s fashion show held twice yearly in Florence, Italy.

The 76th Edition will take place June 16-19, featuring the best of international men’s fashion for s/s 2010, including the Italian label—Il Viaggio (literally ‘the trip’)—the casual chic men’s line for modern-day male travelers.

The “sweatjack”—the sweatshirt-jacket hybrid designed by Mario Vigilante—combines the elegance of a blazer and the comfort of a jersey into one garment for the busy traveling businessman or the young entrepreneur searching for stylish adventure.

Mario Vigilante was born 1942 in San Severo of the Foggia province in Italy. In 1960, Mario moved to Milan to attend design courses at the Carlo Secoli Institute. Afterwards, he transferred to Tuscany where he worked as chief designer for a well-acclaimed fashion house, collaborating with Allegri for nearly 20 years.

Throughout the course of his life, Mario has designed for some of the best: Armani, Fendi, Issey Miyake, and Versace.

But it was not until his relationship with Marithé + François Girbaud that he launched SUPERMARIO Son & Daughter in 1996, out of which numerous lines were born like SPQRCity, Parajumpers, and Il Viaggio.

Based in Pontedera, Italy (not too far from Pisa), Mario works together with his daughter Chiara and son Raffaele, offering a spectrum of fashion consultancy services that range from trend research to production management, all the while emphasizing eco-friendliness.

Photos Sweatjack by Il Viaggio s/s 2010, provided by
Claudio Leoni, Copyright by SUPERMARIO Son & Daughter.