MILAN — Ennio Capasa could not stay away from fashion for too long and he is returning with a new project that will bow during Milan Fashion Week.
The designer will unveil a new brand called Capasa Milano on the evening of Feb. 22 with a fashion show event — expect a live band performance.
“I have changed and everything has changed at an incredible speed, but the values and my approach remain,” said Capasa during an interview.
In 2016, after 30 years at the helm of the company they founded in Milan in 1986, Ennio and his brother Carlo Capasa exited Costume National, selling the remainder of the company to Japanese-Chinese investment bank Sequedge, which first acquired a 17 percent stake in 2009.
Capasa studied art at the Brera Academy and said he spent the past few years working on his drawings and sculptures. While he kept details about the new collection under wraps, he said that graphics, prints and jacquards he designed will be represented in the lineup.
“During this time, I had the opportunity to think and evolve, to understand what I wanted to keep and what I wanted to toss,” he said.
It is key for Capasa to “live in sync with the times, without losing touch with what surrounds you. Design becomes sterile if there is not that sense of urgency.”
He said the collection is titled “before it starts,” as he meant to launch it in September 2022. “I decided to open up and start creating a community.”
Just as the Costume National moniker “was a fantasy name, it had no references,” this time Capasa wanted to underscore his relationship with Milan. “It’s been my city since I was 18, it tells my story and is the perfect city to create fashion, one of the best in the world. It’s easier to work here, as it offers an incredibly efficient system,” observed Capasa, who is originally from the Apulia region.
Emphasizing made in Italy production and timeless collections are two priorities for the designer, as are sustainability and inclusion. “I learned about sustainability from Carlo, he stimulated me in this sense,” said Capasa. “My brother has always worked with me and on this project he will have a more strategic role and less operational. My sister Rita will also be part of the team in marketing and distribution.”
“I am excited to take part in my brother’s initiative, even if I have a role that is less active compared to the past,” said Carlo Capasa, who is the president of Italy’s Camera della Moda. “I am very much interested in the aspects linked to sustainability, to inclusion and to an evolution of made in Italy that can blend artisanal craftsmanship and technology. I hope this new project can become a laboratory to apply concepts that are very dear to me and in which I believe.”
Capasa Milano is a complete men’s and women’s collection and the designer underscored that Costume National was among the first brands “to blur the gender boundaries,” but he also sees the line evolving through limited series and collaborations. “You can’t go back, collaborations are here to stay,” he contended.
The collection will be positioned in the higher-range but Capasa likes the idea of a broad price mix, from a T-shirt that retails at 80 euros to a jacket that costs 3,000 euros.
Capasa has maintained strong relationships with retailers that used to carry his collections and celebrities that favored his looks — from Kendrick Lamar and Lady Gagy to Jared Leto, Marina Abramovic and Vincent Gallo – but the line will first be distributed online.
“I also hope to rent out the products and to create a recycle channel,” explained Capasa, whose minimalist yet edgy designs and eye for tailoring contributed to the success of Costume National and sister brand C’N’C in the ’90s and early Aughts.
Capasa remains confident in the future, despite the uncertainties connected to this particular moment in time. Actually, he singled out two particular moments that were especially tough for the industry and the world in general — the early ‘90s and 2001, when Costume National, saw a surge in sales. “In 1993 we saw a boom in menswear,” he recalled.
“During a crisis or more delicate and difficult times, you need more energies, a strong point of view and if you take action, there will be a response,” he claimed.
Capasa said he felt revitalized by the times. “It’s a stimulating social moment,” he said. “The younger generations have strong ethics and values.”
While admitting the high quality of designers in the ‘90s, he said fashion used to be “more about aesthetics, while now it’s more about ethics and it’s important the two overlap. Designers were less free, there was more rigidity in the industry. Today consumers and the market are more open, therefore it’s more stimulating — it’s as if there were more ingredients to create with. And the epochal change in communication translates into an increased creative flexibility and opens up to cross-pollination. Brands have a strong responsibility from a social point of view. “
Ready-to-wear will be outsourced and shoes will be produced by HIM CO.
Capasa would also like to create a small factory in Apulia with an industrial partner. “The region is so ahead when it comes to fashion production and it offers great possibility of industrial development. Italy’s strength in tailoring can be updated with technology.”