Music Stories: the alchemy of Darrn

We chat with DARRN a new rising music band, born in Rome in 2015, who recently launched the new EP “Chimica”.

How did you meet?

We met in two different moments. The first to know each other were the two producers [Cristian and Den- nis], through a mutual friendship, at the age of 18. We both wanted to throw ourselves into creating something together, in order to escape from that teenage trap of doing covers of Green Day or Evanescence in horrible rehearsal rooms (we still went through that phase, there is no escape). At first, we did some sort of strange progressive rock.
We almost immediately took a break from that period. After a year, however, we were back together in the room looking for more electronic sounds and a more intimate dimension, to create a type of music that would satisfy us. It was 2014/2015 and the trap transition was taking place in Italy. We wanted to follow that wave a little, but in a much more personal way, creating our own sound. Dennis (the producer) was enrolled in some singing lessons at the time and made his teacher listen to the music we made. At the time we were looking for someone who could talk to our musical world. Dario (the singer) was attending the same lessons with the same teacher, who acted as an intermediary. He recommended a boy to us who he said was a strong composer who could sing our music. We met and a week later we had already finalized a song (which will never come out).

What is the origin of the name DARRN?

It has no specific meaning. Before we met, Dario published some tracks in English on YouTube with the name Darren; a nickname originating from school. When we decided to work together the difficulty was putting together three different heads to find a name. At the time we went to mix our music at Stabber (a Italian music producer ndr). He simply gave us the suggestion to continue using that name and we for copyright reasons (since there is already a Darren making music in the world) we take out the E. The same problem that The Weeknd had with his name. Then if you go to the Urban Dictionary and type Darren you can read something like: “A good looking, intelligent, straight individual who is known for partying hard and getting all the ladies” lol. So we love it and decided to keep DARRN.

Which artists are inspiring you?

James Blake, The Weeknd with his “Trilogy”, Frank Ocean with “Blond” and “Endless” and also Sampha with “Process”. And recently we are in love with Crush by Floating Points

How was your “Chemistry” EP is born?

By CHEMISTRY we mean something that can join – and is physically created by the release of serotonin and dopamine – but it can also divide, when these substances are missing. CHEMISTRY is the difficulty in finding a perfect balance between two people, from the balance between rational and irrational. The chemistry to which we refer to is the essence of our personalities, which continually collide and can create new matter, or choose whether to wander alone in search of an alternative solution. The EP is going well. The fact is that before numbers, we would like to see what the audience’s response is when we do live concerts – that is the most important moment for us. So as soon as we start playing around we will let you know.

Your plans for the future and dreams in the drawer

For now we are working on new music and we are creating a live show that makes the most of the intimate dimension of the tracks of CHIMICA. A dream is certainly to be able to write an album around the world: go to the studio in Tokyo or Berlin, record something in Bangkok and mix everything at Jeff Ellis’ in Los Angeles. In fact, it’s still a dream…

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Alef: craftmanship without compromise

Talking with Alessia Ariemma and Tiziano Colasante

ALEF Bags are Made In Italy, which means excellence in materials, centuries long best craftsmanships and never compromising on quality. The brand is the result of the partnership between two different depths and solid entrepreneurial activities and to the meeting of Tiziano Colasante and Alessia Auriemma. We talked about it with Alessia Ariemma and Tiziano Colasante, who joined forces to launch Alef.

How did you start the project?

ALEF is a brand born thanks to the meeting between Alessia Ariemma and Tiziano Colasante. Alessia is a marketing expert and trend specialist in the fashion and beauty sector working as a consultant for several Italian and multinational companies. Tiziano has been an entrepreneur in the leather industry for over thirty years with experience in the development and production of bags for major brands, including Balenciaga, Versace, Fendi, Dolce & Gabbana, Valentino, Bottega Veneta just to name a few. Our meeting took place about 6 years ago thanks to a project developed for a common client. From our creative and professional affinity, we developed the idea of creating a brand completing each other’s skills. The brand was born 4 years ago and it’s expanding. Initially, the line included only women’s styles which has been enriched by a new dedicated collection for men soon after the launch.

How do you develop the men’s and women’s collections?

Each collection is born primarily from market and extensive trends research. The search for shapes and volumes stands for that each individual item is designed for a specific target, which is very transversal. Our woman customer is a woman who still feels a little princess like and loves to play with accessories and colours. A lover of beauty and quality, who wants to give a twist to her look in a personal way. The Alef man could be called an urban classic. He loves the contamination of styles, perhaps wearing nonchalantly a typical large mountain backpack or a duffle bag in the city even if he is not traveling. The research that is carried out ranges from the type of materials, to the colours and details, such as the weaving that has been characterizing both collections lately. The creative part of designing the models and setting up the details for each model is usually done by four hands with Tiziano, who then directs the entire prototyping and production phase with his company Propel srl, which operates in the sector for 30 years and boasts excellence in Italian leather goods manufacturing.

How do you combine the tradition and value of Made in Italy with innovation?

ALEF is a brand that is totally produced in Italy using mainly materials of Italian origin. The manufacture is carried out entirely within the company which has a thirty-year artisan tradition. The brand, together with its creators and Propel srl, promotes the ‘Made in Italy’ with its product by defending its quality and creativity features in the world. At the same time, the company, working primarily for established brands has gradually adapted to the demands of the big players and the needs for speeding up the processes, guaranteeing excellent quality by equipping itself with the latest generation machinery, such as laser cutting machines, for computerized embroidery and prototype development with CAD. Each activity is supervised by its department representatives who guarantee its quality, allowing to combine absolutely manual and artisan activities with activities carried out thanks to new technologies, but without losing the taste for the “handmade”. The logo of the ALEF brand refers precisely to this. In fact, the elements that intersect in the graphic part of the logo are Alfa (tradition), Omega (innovation) and Tao (the constant change to achieve excellence while maintaining the values of tradition).

How is the brand evolving in the near future?

ALEF has currently seen development especially abroad, thanks to its presence in international shops and a corner shop in New York City (Wooster Street). Our communication activity has been influenced by the digital media, so we started developing many collaborations with influencers at an international level. Last year we also created a capsule collection for Chiara Ferragni’s The Blond Salad, which also gave us a lot of visibility. Our goal is to further expand our international network, but also to develop our presence in our country. That’s why for 2020 we will open a flagship store in the heart of Milan’s luxury street Via della Spiga. This is a great step for us that confirms our commitment to implement our local presence, but also with the aim of placing ALEF on the market as a new brand of excellence in Italian leather goods.

Alef is the beginning, symbol of Energy, force, continuity, stability. It is also the center from which the thought form radiates.

Every product is designed, developed and manufactured exclusively in Italy and transmits taste for the new and love for the tradition of craftsmanship combined with the most advanced techniques of leather processing and the use of innovative fabrics and materials.

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Sustainable Fashion: Hand Picked

A collection inspired by nature and its colours, focusing on extreme high quality materials, sustainability and ‘Made in Italy’ production

How was the Hand Picked project born?

As a private label of Giada SpA, Hand Picked was born in SS19, presenting itself to the public with a capsule of 15 pieces and based on a green philosophy. Hand Picked was born from Giada’s desire to optimize all the know-how acquired in over 30 years of activity that had made it a world leader in the luxury denim sector.

How is the brand evolving after the first few seasons?

After the launch at Pitti Uomo in June 2018, Hand Picked is now positioned in over 250 stores world- wide with a collection that in the AW20 / 21 season is made up of 117 items including trousers and various different tops.

What are the details that make the collection special?

The items in the collection are the result of a lot of research regarding the mainly eco-sustainable materials and the style. The production chain of each pair of trousers, characterized by tailored manufacturing, requires about 80 steps to reach completion with a processing time 3/4 times longer than any other 5 pockets. Giada, in fact, has always been attentive to detail, epitomised by the pocket bag adorned with the logoed border – a distinctive mark of the brand, and embroidered with a comb point, hand-hammered copper buttons and rivets, a grograin sewn inside the button panel, and the label made of appleskin.

Which are the iconic items of the capsule?

Giada is famous all over the world for its 5 pockets so the garment that best represents us is the Ravello style together with the Orvieto, however other items exhibiting a comfort concept have been a success.

How important is sustainability for the brand?

Hand Picked is based on the eco-friendly concept because we believe in the importance of fashion brands contributing to the protection of the environment. In addition to the eco-friendly materials, the different stages of processing are characterized by sustainability. In addition to recycling 60/70% of our water, we reuse waste materials such as pumice stone (used in gardening) and fabrics recycled from the automotive industry.

Denim represents the core business of Giada SpA, how has the market changed in recent years?

Today, the denim fabric, which was firstly used for work uniform and therefore worn by workers, has become a must have to be worn at any time of the day and in any situation because of its versatility and ability to transform from sportswear into elegant garment.

The challenges and plans for the future?

Giada counts on a workforce made up of about employees, both direct and indirect. Amongst our specialized and passionate team, we aim for increasingly ambitious goals and a further reach towards new markets where the demand for tailored garments is becoming increasingly popular.

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Interview to Antonino Laspina, Italian Trade Commissioner

Italy is back in fashion in the USA. The new overseas market trends, which highlight bigger attention to quality and sustainability, have opened the games also for small and medium companies of Made in Italy. We met Antonino Laspina, executive director of the Italian Trade Agency in the American market. During his career, Laspina worked with universities, also in China, training centers, Italian and international magazines about topics linked to international trade and economy. He became a member of Young Leaders’ Group (council Italy-USA) in 1988 until the current assignment as an executive director of ITA started the last November.  

How American markets are changing in relation to Made in Italy? 

The American market, like other important markets in the world, changes a lot depending on the demographic composition and new subjects who intervene in the expense destined to the purchase of goods, in this case, quality goods, Made in Italy. In front of us, there is a scenario with a strong presence of subjects we can define as Millennials, who relate with Made in Italy trying to appreciate some emerging aspects but we also have some clients who are very consolidated and attached to this type of products. At the same time, there are also new trends related to the possibility that consumers belonging to quite high ranks can be interested in Made in Italy, even more than past years also for the effect of the growth of his perception on the American market.  

What is the perception of the Italian product in the USA?

The perception of the Italian product in the USA remains quite positive. I’d say that in some fields the Italian product doesn’t have rivals because it constitutes a product in a class of its own. However, we have to remember that some trends can approach products to other countries at the same level of standard of perception of Made in Italy product. For us, it’s very important to try to keep this leadership through a very strong promotional activity that on the one hand has to try to consolidate consumers in the areas we are already strong, like the coasts, above all New York, New Jersey, and California but on the other hand, we have to do promotion activities in the areas which already enjoy economic growth, like Texas.

Which are the assets at which Italian companies should aim?

To make their way and strengthen their position, Italian companies have to aim at assets and values which in the last 20 years allowed them to create the positions of leadership they got. There is the need to be known as companies that incorporate values like quality, exclusivity and the utilization of raw materials. Both regarding products related to the fashion system and the design system. Our companies need to insist on the fact that Italy is unique compared to its competitors because in our area the creative phase, the creative industry, and the manufacturing field coexist. Somehow, we constitute a unicum and we have to aim at it because in this mechanism it is possible to create a requalification of the Italian product in terms of high quality with components of craftmanship that are unique in our system. Every element starts being always more important for some bands of American consumers. Even more than in past years.  

How your plan and strategy of the relaunch of Made in Italy is articulated?

According to the results of past years, a plan and a strategy of the relaunch of Made in Italy have been invented. They aim at an increased value of resources destined for promotional activities. This strategy aims on the one hand on retaining and stabilizing the consumer we have in some areas but on the other hand on conquering other consumers above all in the areas where the economic dynamics have allowed having, like in some capitals, pro capita incomes which are superior to 60,000/70,000 dollars and show a delay compared to the perception of the Italian product. We have to work hard to bring the product to the territory. Clearly, an important tool is the activity of collaboration with the large retailers, both international distribution and the inter-state one. So we will invest a lot in invitations on the distribution networks, we will develop a bigger presence on the most important Italian trade fairs and we will also use promotional tools which are proper and autonomous activities realized by ICE collaborating with other partners. Moreover, it is very important to start an action plan which includes a bigger area to make us more popular. 

There is also a space regarding digital activities. In fact, we have improved an agreement with Amazon and we are studying other ways of collaborations. The main idea is that this market, like other markets in Europe and Asia, needs utilization of both online and offline channels. Obviously, a big effort to recover the interest of an increasing number of Italian companies for this market will be done. However, we noticed that on the Italian side there is the need to upgrade about the American market and for this reason, we have to send to Italian companies a message which allow them to understand that the American market has strict rules regarding the regulations on the composition of products and materials but also regarding the custom aspects. However, this difficulty doesn’t mean impossibility and so we can think about opening new perspectives for the Italian companies. Quality starts making its way on the market and for this reason for this type of company could be a chance to recover positions at a global level.

Which are the Italian companies which have been supported? The first feedbacks? 

The first feedbacks were quite positives. In fact, the time we had available for this new strategy was quite short but generally, we create strategies on undeniable successes. For example, we have a very consolidate presence on the fashion system and a qualified presence of quality producers. The aim is to create new trends, new creative and manufacturing subjects on the market because we have to take the opportunity that this market shows a big sensibility towards new themes, such as sustainability, green and the respect for nature: all issues which our companies have already experienced. Moreover, these themes have already reported important positive results in other markets. We feel that the most important aspect is to be known as carriers of these new values which are making their way on the American market. For our companies, during the last years, treatments that respected the environment regarding the leathers, the fibers, above all the natural ones or some treatments of products that are necessary to create the manufacturing process in the textile and clothing field were a bet. Today, probably, we also show in terms of research and development a more sophisticated and also more in line production with these expectations. We are very hopeful about the fact that this type of positive answer will be able to improve during the next years.

A first evaluation after the collaboration with Project?

Already with this event, we can say that we were able to interpret these trends I have mentioned before. Our companies involved in this Project were already an interesting number. For the future side, we think that we will aim to the communication aspects of our creative and manufacturing system. We have to be able to communicate these values that sometimes are peculiar o exclusive of our Italian system. In order to do it, we need to use different platforms. The main idea is to use consolidate platforms regarding the expositive system, but we don’t have to exclude the fact that we can also add other presences of new conception with the Italian companies and the structures which represent the interest of companies. 

There is much talk about sustainability, how is it transposed by the American market? 

Sustainability is a fact that accompanies an increasing sensibility not only on the American market but also on the other markets in relation to the issues of the treatment of products in the manufacturing phase, but also phases regarding the treatment of raw materials and also how to grow the plants from which come vegetal fibers or how to treat plants which come from the animal world. Sustainability is the keyword because on the American market this sensibility to nature and to processes that are not too intrusive or disruptive is making its way at the same level of what is happening in the most sophisticated markets. Here the answer to the Italian system, in my opinion, is live up to expectations because, as I have already highlighted, in our system of treatment of leather a series of processes that limit the use of toxic substances have been introduced. We applied recovery technologies and for this reason, we are producers of raw materials and semi-finished products which can be a guarantee in terms of sustainability. We also have companies that treat natural fibers like cotton, but we have already controlled the farming phase. Moreover, we have companies that already during the selection of the natural fibers, like for example the wool coming from different animals, have a great attention and care for the selective processes and then they transfer these fibers in the manufacturing processes, where coloring substances or any other substance has to be compatible with the system of nature.  We are obliged to do it because our companies are placed in a countryside context and the Italian system live and coexist with masterpieces of art and architecture. We have a campaign which essentially has great protection because from there other sources of income such as agriculture and tourism come. It’s a system that even before sustainability was important in the American market, had to make this choice for a natural cause, for its own internal forces, because the intervention of nature above all in Italy has to be very light because it has to safeguard also the other fields of the Italian economy. So, we are certainly a productive system able to satisfy these aspects of sustainability, green and these legitimate expectations in consumers. If the system of Made in Italy is improving more and more also in contexts not always positive from the economic point of view, it is because it was able to interpret and give appropriate responses to these expectations.

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Andreas Geisen, between social and dance

The young man and dancer Andrea Geisen represents a perfect balance between urban masculinity and discreet charm. He’s natural, authentic, takes care of himself and cultivates elegance without any effort. First of all, he’s a sportsman and in fact he discovered his passion for dance when he was little, and he brought it forward with hard work and sacrifice. However, today, there’s not only dance in his life, but he also works in the world of fashion and as lifestyle influencer on social media, a job which is very exciting for him. 

How and when did you discover your passion for dancing? 

When I began to dance I was really young, I was only 9. The idea was of my mother and I suddenly liked it because I was the only boy surrounded by girls. When I turned 11, I got hurt and I wasn’t able to dance anymore. For 2 months I felt like I was missing something. And it was in that moment that I understood that ballet was my passion and it would have guided my life. 

Tell me something about your studies and your personal background

I attended the Opera Ballet School in Paris and the Conservatoire Supérior in Paris. Later, I went to the National Ballet in Poland for a season and then to Germany. I spent four years of my life splitting myself between Paris and The Opera in Bordeaux.

Are there some people who inspired you both from the professional and personal point of view? 

There are a lot of people who inspired me. For example, Neil Patrick Harris, Hugh Jackman, Rudolf Noureev and Baryshnikov. Also films and stories of real life and people who changed the world unexpectedly have inspired me. 

What are your latest and significant operas as a dancer? 

Definitely Notre Dame de Paris of Roland Petit, first because it is a masterpiece of the 20th century and then for what happened in Paris last year. Seizing this opportunity was really important to me. It is a brilliant tribute to Notre Dame. 

Tell me about your modelling career and about your last experience

Being a model is a bit difficult because my body doesn’t correspond to the rules of fashion. Boys have to be very tall to do it. 
My last important job was dancing at the opening of Dior S/S show in Shanghai during the fashion week and it was just fantastic to me. However, I suppose that all the campaigns I’ll be working on as a model will be linked to ballet. 

You are also a content creator who talks about travels and lifestyle, when and why did you start this initiative?

I started this initiative 3 years ago, at the end of 2016, and I find it very interesting. It’s a new way to be connected with a brand without the intermediation of an agency. What I like the most is that I can do my campaign with my rules. I love that freedom and I love letting my creativity work itself. 

What does your typical day look like?

I usually get up at 9, I wake up my body (workout and abs), ballet from 11.30 to 13.30, stretching until 14.30 and then lunch. Later, rehearsals, Physio, or meetings with agencies or brands.

What are your favourite places in Paris? 

I love the 2nd district, there’s always something to discover and the street there is beautiful. Above all, around Montorgueil, is like a small village. 

What are the places you like the most to recharge/rehabilitate yourself? 

I don’t have a favourite place because every week I discover new cafés and new hotels. I suppose they are where I feel best: at home and in the ballet studios. 

When you travel, which are the essential elements for you?

When I travel, the essential elements for me are my phone, my headphones, a bottle of lemon water, comfortable clothes, the products for my skincare and a swimsuit. 

The last book you read or the music you love

The last book I read was Notre Dame de Paris of Victor Hugo. 

In these days I’m listening to a French artist, Angel and to the playlist Jazz Romance on Spotify. Moreover, I’m listening to the Lion King because I’ll be auditioning for the Broadway show. 

Your next projects and secret wishes

I have this enormous audition for the Lion King show in Broadway in February in addition to the other auditions for the ballet companies. I also would like to try a bit of acting. Let’s see what 2020 has to offer! 

Photo credits:

Anthony Pomes @apomesphoto
Marion Colombani @studiomarioncolombani
Elle Urakova @by_elleurakova

Andreas Geisen @andrew.gsn

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Antony Morato told by Lello Caldarelli

Let’s discover whit the Creative Director Raffaele Caldarelli, a total look brand that is growing internationally.

Tell us about your professional background before Antony Morato

I started working on women managing a structure that produced collections for other companies, this helped me a lot in understanding the needs of contemporary fashion and the innovations in terms of materials, combinations of fabrics and details of the finished product. When I founded Antony Morato in 2007, I felt the need to create an individual project: I transferred the knowledge acquired from the experience with the female market adapting it to the needs of contemporary male fashion by developing my personal vision of fashion.

How did you launch the brand and which philosophy best describes it?

Given my previous experiences, it would have been natural and logical to start with women’s clothing, but when I launched the brand, I realized by conducting a market analysis, that in men’s fashion what was missing was a concept that had been already rooted in women’s: the smart luxury. A ‘democratic fashion’ with a product rich in fashion contents, typical of the world of luxury. This is why I decided to take the opportunity that the market offered at the time by proposing a brand that could bring the most demanding male consumers closer to fashion. Which are the most iconic and recognizable garments of your brand More than a single garment, I would speak of an approach to the total look I like to propose in each collection and that well defines the brand’s identity and aesthetics. I refer to the concept of “Soft Tailoring” which consists in combining a pair of tailored trousers with a t-shirt or a pair of sneakers. In this context, the casual garment is the ingredient that “softens” the formality of a classic look, giving a contemporary touch to the final proposal.

What is the added value of being an Italian brand?

DNA and Italian heritage, seen as consolidated traditions and cultural roots in the fashion industry, influence each Antony Morato collection in terms of respect for an elegant and unique style and a specific taste on the wearability and workmanship of the garments. Naples, in particular, is also one of the most cosmopolitan cities and our international DNA, open to new trends, originates precisely from this cultural and social melting-pot.

How is the brand evolving internationally?

After 12 years of gradual growth we now want to strengthen the markets in which we are already present – such as Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Germany, France, China and India – in order to increase and consolidate brand awareness and sales potential. A further goal for the next few years is to guarantee complete sustainability at any company level: we have already started with an ecological approach to industry 4.0 by creating a new logistics hub in Piacenza that is completely eco-sustainable and represents an avant-garde in the sector as it has a low environmental impact guaranteed by the production of energy through magnetism. A small preview on the next collection The fall winter 2020/2021 collection reinvents the metropolitan look thanks to a mix of innovation and reinterpretation of the brand’s DNA. Spacing between four fashion themes, each with a precise inspiration – from punk / grunge to sartorial sport in a college key – the collection does not renounce the brand’s heritage, with the Timeless line, which offers contemporary elegance, made of minimal and references to the retro world.

What can you tell us for 2020?

Our main goal is to shorten the distance between brand and consumer more and more. Precisely for this reason we thought of giving life to a new way of presenting our collections that is innovative and that represents a moment of encounter between stakeholders and the final consumer. On January 7, 2020 we will host an evening dedicated to the combination of tradition and modernity. At the Auditorium Santo Stefano al Ponte, we will unveil the new autumn collection in an unusual way: a videomapping representation in which the contemporary and underground mood, typical of the brand’s heritage, will be reinterpreted thanks to details and inspirations that refer to the tailoring tradition of the past. A new project that we hope will have continuity for the coming seasons.

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