Darin Hachem

MILAN Inclusion was a key trend at TheOneMilano, which ran here Sept. 19 to 22 at Fieramilanocity. Inclusion was meant in its broadest sense: genderless fashion, styles that mix Eastern and Western culture, productions that respect the planet and the workers’ quality of life.

The fair showed a slight slowdown as it hosted 120 brands, compared with 140 in the previous September edition, and 22 percent of these were from outside of Italy. The number of visitors was in line with last edition, totaling 3,700, as general manager Elena Salvaneschi confirmed, but the closing figures showed a patchy distribution: buyers from France and Germany fell by 2 percent, while those from Spain and Great Britain grew at a double-digit pace. The rest of the world showed a stable trend.

The macro-concept of inclusion was embodied in the creations of brands that showcased their collections at TheOneMilano for the first time. Young Italian designer Giorgia Andreatta founded her brand 11giorgiandreazza17 after graduating from NABA design school in Milan last year. Her first collection — entirely handmade by her mother — stood out for a gender-fluid choice: “I want my clothes to fit both men and women,” said Andreatta, “and I imagine them as seasonless.” The designer’s creations are deconstructed and extremely versatile, and can be mixed together following one’s personal mood and taste, as “I dress an idea, not a body,” the designer explained.

So there come hangers that turn a coat into a shoulder shrug and pieces made of bold colors that can be mixed and matched. Most materials came from the effort to reduce waste and leftovers: Andreatta reused hangers of old bags for example, or alcantara pieces bought in flea markets and bulletproof fabrics, which are the result of other companies’ leftovers. “The inspiration comes from socio-cultural changes, from the Chernobyl disaster to the genderless revolution.”

Fluid clothes were the main feature of Arto’s collection, founded by Hong Kong-based designer Arto Wong in 2017, too. Oriental shapes, comfortable yet snug and elegant, were separated into two collections: one was inspired by the blooming of flowers and the other one by the mystery of molecular transformation. Both were embellished by artistic, strong visual impact prints that give Arto a distinctive identity. Ruffles and Oriental-inspired structures are reminiscent of buds and blossoms in shades of green, while blue hues give shape to artistic prints inspired by the creation of the world. Knitwear plays an important part of the collection, being Wong’s hallmark.

Italian designer Alessandra Pannone founded Empathia with Luca Nardi just one year ago. Based in the coastal city of La Spezia, the two have fallen for the charm of the Far East culture, after Pannone’s experience in China and Nardi’s trip to Japan. “We wanted to give life to a brand which could combine the urban Western culture with the Oriental tradition,” Pannone explained. “We therefore transformed the traditional kimono into an innovative cloth by using PVC inserts, for example.” They target new generations who are open to the world and keep their eyes on the future: eccentric cuts are mixed with traditional ones and high-tech materials are combined with natural fabrics.

Welcoming every kind of shape, the Ulla Popken brand has reinterpreted the concept of “plus size” during its nearly 30 years of history. Its fashion lines stood out for their soft and flowing materials in modern cuts for everyday life: from business outfits to sportswear and joyful lingerie, both younger and older women could find their own expression. The brand was founded by Ursula and Fritz Popken and it is now run by their daughter’s husband Thomas Schneider. The company, whose motto is “I am right this way,” is well established in Europe (mainly in Germany, Austria, Switzerland).

Sustainability was key for Selin Savci, who designs the Savart swimsuit collection and employs Econyl. This is a material made of ocean waste like fish nets, which are cleaned and recycled to give life to a regenerated nylon. The Turkey-born designer, now based in Milan, launched her first collection earlier this year: she created swimsuits that can be used as lingerie. “I reject the idea that women may use their bikinis just two weeks a year, or that they can only feel sexy in them,” Savci said. “One day they may feel so, but the other day they may feel strong and that’s why I designed a line inspired by a superwoman character” and not by a sex symbol.



A Savart swimsuit.  courtesy image

Sustainability in a “glocal” approach is what made the Vaishali S collection stand out. It was founded by Indian designer Vaishali Shadangule, who says her mission is to “show the incredible manufacturing expertise of Indian families, who are not just numbers in the fashion chain,” the designer explained. Shadangule works with more than 900 weavers and uses 14 techniques of weaving in as many Indian States. “I’m trying to mix old traditions with fashion and to give small villages the opportunity to live a good and decent life,” she said. A braided cotton coat may take up to 20 days to be made. The designer, who showcases her collections during New York Fashion Week, is aiming at making those pieces of art known around the world.



A Vaishali look.  courtesy image

The union between sustainability and different cultures was Darin Hachem’s speciality as well. The brand was founded one year ago by Lebanese Darin Hachem and the Mexican Fernanda Gallardo in Milan, where they met while attending the Marangoni School of Fashion. The designers describe their brand as “a multicultural” label engaged in sustainability and promoting the value of life and work. Both fabrics and production are made in Italy following the path of a circular fashion. “We use everything, all that’s left over can find its own life,” Hachem observed. “Our inspiration comes from ourselves, as we start from designing what we like wearing: a mix of comfort and fashion, with a strong visual effect.”

The collection was inspired by the Earth: “Everything is about nature and we have given space to all of the beige shades,” said Gallardo, “but we also have a higher-end line made of shiny Lurex clothes, which is particularly appreciated in the Middle East.”

From the relationship between man and nature came the idea of Myak. Founded by Andrea Dominici, a veterinarian who has worked in Tibet, who fell in love with the local yarn traditions. He wanted to bring them to the Western world by mixing the families’ work with the Italian craftsmanship and quality. Together with cofounder Paola Vanzo, the company purchases the yarns directly from nomadic Tibetan herders, in an effort to contribute to the quality of their conditions, and it offers a selection of patterns created with international designers as well.

Following in the sustainable track, Brazil-based Linking Dots stood out with his innovative business model based on reducing the impact on the environment. Born from an idea of Argentina’s Rodrigo Doxandabarat, who has a background as a fashion model, Linking Dots produces vegan handmade shoes, designed by different artists in a cooperative spirit. Cotton comes from family farms in the Brazilian state of Paraiba, while packaging and tags are made from production waste and leftovers.

Mixing and matching was another trend. United Separable is a newly born brand founded by Italian Gabriella Grazianetti: “The concept comes from my past job in the telecommunication sector, when I used to travel a lot and needed a light baggage with me,” Grazianetti explained. “It was never easy to get a small bag with everything I needed, from business meetings to dinners, so I decided to combine this with my love for fashion.”

That’s how her first collection came to be earlier this year. Grazianetti played on clothes that are made up of two parts united by a zipper. Mixing the parts each woman can create her own style, from classic to eccentric, from day to night: “If I take just two dresses with me when I travel, it’s like I have four dresses with me and this is both fashionable and functional, not to mention that they are wrinkle-free, too.” Grazianetti selects natural fabrics — cotton, silk, wool and velvet — from suppliers in the North of Italy.

One more mix-and-match collection was Kissa beachwear, founded by Martina Corak. Milan-based, the Croatian designer unveiled her first collection last year at Montecarlo Fashion Week. Her new collection is inspired by Gladys Eysenach, the main character from the novel “Jezebel” by Irène Némirovsky, first published in 1936. “We select materials like Italian lycra, that ensures comfort to every swimsuit, then each piece is handmade in Italy,” Corak said. “I want women to feel comfortable and sexy in every size they are, so they can mix and match sizes and styles.” The two parts of the bikinis are always sold separately. The market seems to respond to this idea and Corak said she’s going to launch her own e-commerce platform in the next months.



A Kissa swimsuit.  courtesy image

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