Have you ever walked into a store and wondered who designed that awesome tee or cool sweater? Well, behind ever cool design, there is a cool designer! Therefore, I would like to introduce you to the man who stands behind every cool design at the United Colors of Benetton: Vincenzo Scognamiglio.
Vincenzo was born 1965 in a municipality of the province Naples, Italy, called Torre del Greco, which means ‘Tower of the Greek’. Situated between the famous ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum, Torre del Greco is an ancient city, which, at one time, was even settled by the Saracens. Later in history, Torre del Greco drew world attention for its coral diving and exquisite cameos.
Vincenzo, it is a tremendous privilege to interview you! Tell me, how did it all begin?
I lived in Torre del Greco up to the age of 18, when I decided to take a “huge step” and departed for New York City. I was a little more than a young boy, but my ideas were clear and, soon, everyone at home ceded to my determination.
What events in your early years contributed to you becoming a designer?
I always traveled a lot, from when I was 10 years old (naturally accompanied!), and this led me to be curious—in the most positive sense of the term. My father was a broker, and it was from him that I inherited the disposition of a traveler and a “discoverer”.
When did you really know that you wanted to become a designer?
Becoming a designer was something that I always carried within me. Fashion and music have, in fact, always been my biggest passions. When I arrived to New York, I interne with Ralph Lauren. These two beautiful years confirmed to me that the career of a designer was what I really wanted to do.
I read that you worked with several labels in Japan… Did this experience impact you in any way?
In Japan I learned rigor and the discipline—the fundamental elements for growth with respect to everything and everyone. Moreover, I learned how to manage creativity—another fundamental aspect for attaining good results. For the most part, it was an educative experience from which I still benefit!
What inspires you as a designer?
Many things influence me: the “street” above all things; but also art and cinema, for example. I read very much; every morning I flip through several newspapers, because I am convinced that an idea can be born even from a piece of news.
Besides fashion, what other interests do you have?
Like I said, my other huge passion is music. I own an IMMEASURABLE collection of music (but I also have an iPod filled to capacity). I particularly love jazz and rock; then I like the “great vocalists.” When possible, I try to go to the cinema or organize dinners with my friends—being with them recharges my batteries. I like to travel and, work permitting, I try to do it whenever possible (I travel often for work, but naturally it is not the same thing!)
What led you to Benetton?
The desire to challenge myself… Working for a company that distributes its collections in 120 countries of the world and offers a total look for every moment of the day, believe me, truly represents an unmatchable challenge. What’s more, I handle both the men’s collection and the women’s; therefore, I can define myself as a “complete” designer. I also believe that Benetton is an unordinary company, which makes you proud to belong to.
What specific impact have you had on the men’s look at Benetton?
My arrival to Benetton coincided with an explosion in men’s fashion around the world. First, the concept of a man looking in stores for in-style clothing was nonexistent and reserved only for women. Fortunately, it is no longer the case today; now Benetton has a network of stores dedicated exclusively to men.
What does “fast fashion” mean to you and Benetton?
When one thinks of “fast fashion” today, one is thinking of a low-quality product. In this sense, we are not interested in “fast fashion.” For Benetton, it is important to be “fast” in the sense of planning and distribution; but this never happens by skimping on quality.
As designer, what do you expect from the casting campaign?
The casting of the Benetton campaigns has always been an element of strong identity for the brand. The multiethnic and “real” approach to models has in a way determined a style. With this project the casting develops online—arriving from bottom to top, from grassroots to fashion pages—but it is only technically a new operation; in fact, it is in line with Benetton history. We hope the users that vote for the 100 finalists of “It's My Time” will be as bold as Benetton has been over the years!
What is the biggest challenge of a designer today?
Staying in step with the times and with the rapid changes, which the world imposes on us today. It is important that one scrutinizes oneself, not becoming distracted, because the modern-day public is more demanding in terms of style and quality.
In your opinion, where is men’s fashion headed?
After years of excesses, men’s fashion is finally turning towards great practicality and simplicity, without forgetting—however—good taste for elegance. This is also my personal way of seeing men’s fashion: in other words, I like that men dress like men!
Thank you so much, Vincenzo, for your time! It is a wonderful pleasure to become better acquainted with you!
Read all the articles by Francesco in 2010 Spring Uomo Moda:
Uomo Moda ‘10 Spring Edition—the All-Star Issue
Be a Star in Spring 2010: Editorial, Uomo Moda
PUMA: Over 60 Years of Reaching for the Stars
Dolce & Gabbana: 2 Stars in Italian Luxury
Dolce & Gabbana 2010 Spring Collection: “Extreme Beauty”
United Colors of Benetton: A Family of Stars
Benetton's Star Desginer: Vincenzo Scognamiglio
United Colors of Benetton: 2010 Spring/Summer Collection
Tween: a Rising Star
The Tween 2010 Spring Collection: “Modern Masculinity”
Photo Vincenzo Scognamiglio Copyright Benetton.