MILAN — In the world of dressing up to get social media attention, art director Mattia Ferrari has found his sweet spot and a good reason to venture into uncharted territory: A brand of his own.
The young creative — who counts a roster of collaborations as a behind-the-scenes man orchestrating digital campaigns for marquee luxury labels and celebrity endorsements — recently launched Julfer with business partner Alessandra Gallocchio, but he has a clear idea of where he wants to take it.
For their most recent concerts in Florence, Italian rock sensation Måneskin donned custom looks on stage developed by Julfer in tandem with the band’s stylist Anastasiia Gutnyk.
Before landing an endorsement from the rock band, Ferrari had already centered his brand around celebrity dressing, toying with the Y2K and overtly sexy aesthetics that dominate on social media.
After traveling the world and connecting with the cool crowds in Los Angeles, New York and London, he returned to Italy and settled in Milan, studied at the European School of Economics and started an art direction career working for the likes of Bulgari, Chopard and Versace.
“I had connected with this significant group of celebrities that I’d suggest brands to endorse so I thought ‘Why not launch my own fashion brand?’” he said. He is blunt about having the likes of Sita Abellan and Olivia Culpo in mind when designing Julfer’s Y2K-inflected gear.
The first collection was unveiled last September for spring 2023 and has already gained the interest of such retailers as the Rinascente department store, Italy’s Vinicio, Folli Follie and Base Blu. As Ferrari spoke in his tony house and headquarters in Milan, a buyer from H.Lorenzo was waiting for him in the adjacent room.
A late Millennial creative, all into social media frenzy and viral moves, Ferrari has nonetheless decided to embrace the traditional distribution model.
“It’s important for a nascent brand to forge a strong distribution network, to enhance brand perception and build credibility. If you want retailers to bet on you, you have to reward them somehow,” he said, explaining why he is not focusing on e-commerce for the time being.
A brand site is under construction, but it’s poised to showcase items in a look book style and redirect customers to the websites of Julfer’s partners.
“In the future, I don’t rule out embracing e-commerce sales but I’m not in a hurry to capitalize on this project [with direct sales]. I’ve also turned down some retailers that approached me and that I didn’t feel were in sync with the brand” he said.
Mindful of today’s consumption of fashion, which he characterized to be as fast as “swiping up” on a smartphone’s screen, Ferrari prices his collection at the entry-to-luxury range, with denim pants retailing at 450 euros, for example.
References to the late ‘90s and early Aughts conjure a sexy vibe à la Christina Aguilera and Janet Jackson in those eras, with denim bearing sensual cutouts at the hips; pants with built-in thongs; sheer body-con dresses, and crisscross details spicing up turtleneck and miniskirt sets.
“The first celebrity I met when I moved to Los Angeles was Paris Hilton,” he said. “I’m trying to recreate that bad girl vibe, but without the ‘bad’ part of it,” he noted.