I used to be a menswear editor back in the day, and I like to keep my hand in with what the latest happenings are on the male side of the industry and so it is I found the chance to speak with Luca Faloni, the Italian owner of his eponymous luxury brand, and what do you do when you get the chance to talk to an Italian about fashion, well you ask them for their thoughts on style and the industry. Luca had a lot of interesting things to say.
As you are launching stores in Miami, Munich and Milan is it fair to say you really love the letter M?
Just a romantic coincidence…
Milan will be our first store in Italy, so very important for the brand. Germany is our third market online, after US and UK, so Munich will allow us to better serve our local customers. Miami is a year-long linen market, which besides cashmere is one of our main product categories, and this store will also be a window to South America and to international tourists.
I am currently on my way to Paris, to better explore ‘Le Marais’ neighbourhood, where I hope the M tradition will continue soon.
Your label focuses a lot on craftsmanship and history in its story, we often hear that traditional skills and materials are disappearing, do you think that’s the case?
Partially yes. Over the years many brands have outsourced production to lower-cost countries, and this had a negative impact for local artisans in countries like Italy. Additionally, younger generations are leaving the family craft for different carriers.
As a brand we have developed deep relationships with our artisans in different regions of Italy and are encouraging and supporting them to expand capacity and train new generations of craftsmen. We believe there is great value in these traditions and will continue to play our role in keeping them alive.
Do you think there is enough availability of training around those skills for young people entering the industry now?
Training consists mainly of learning on the job from an early age. This is why the craft is mainly passed from generation to generation. There could definitely be more craft schools.
Fashion is an evolution, is it hard to remain true to what defines your design philosophy yet keep moving forward in your aesthetic and product development?
I don’t believe fashion needs to be like that. Certain needs and tastes will always remain the same. That’s why we focus on a timeless permanent collection of high-quality staples. Instead of completely changing the collection each season we gradually refine each design based on customer feedback and we gradually add more pieces to cover all needs. This is how we stay true to our brand philosophy. Over time we will most likely add a more fun and seasonal element such as limited edition designs, but first, we need to complete the original mission.
You work with cashmere, how often do you have to tell people it’s from goats, not sheep?
Customers are getting more informed and interested about what they are buying. We like to feed their curiosity by creating a lot of content around the sources of our materials and the process to create textile and garments. Sharing the back of the scene is certainly an area where brands have to focus on to keep a high engagement with their customers.
Along with the products you offer guides to looking after them and a repair service, as fashion has started to look at sustainability and long term garment usage rather than faster fashion have you seen a growth in use of the service?
We have always believed in product longevity and caring for your garments. More and more customers are using our complimentary in-store cashmere repair service and our online ‘How to Care’ series are becoming increasingly popular. We certainly will produce more content to help customers better understand products and how to maintain their durability.
As an Italian company, what do you think is the main reason that Italian fashion has had such an enduring appeal to the world?
It is because of two factors: superior quality and aesthetics. Made in Italy tends to be higher quality because craft is passed from one generation to the next, so skills tend to be more elevated and entire regions have developed deep areas of expertise, difficult to replicate elsewhere. I also believe the taste in Italian designs is more timeless, simple but distinguished. And the Italian colour palette is perfect for most occasions, elegant yet not boring.
One question I like to ask everyone I talk to in the industry is if I gave you a magic wand to change one thing in fashion, what would it be?
Many customers subconsciously think that selling price equals quality, and therefore think that more expensive brands provide better quality. That is not true, cost of production equals quality. Some brands sell through the wholesale channel and their customers end up paying 7-10X cost. Some like us go direct to consumers and can give much better value for money, skipping the reseller margin. I wish there was more transparency about this concept.