The winner of 'WION?' 2016: Carlo Volpi

Fashion By Stefano Guerrini

We have known him and admired his creativity already in January 2016 when he was one of the names chosen for The Latest Fashion Buzz, the project created by Pitti Immagine in cooperation with L'Uomo Vogue and GQ Italy and in partnership with Lagente, born to indicate those brands that are revolutionizing the menswear. We met again Carlo Volpi and his colorful, funny and a bit irreverent knitwear, during this 90th Pitti, as a finalist of the male edition of the prestigious 'Who's On Next?', in which he resulted to be the winner. We interviewed him just a few days after this important moment to find out more about him and his relationship with the Florentine fair, but also the excitement of winning such an important competition.

Can you tell us about the collection you took to the latest Pitti?
The collection is called “Domestic Queen” and gets its inspiration from the figure of the post-war housewife. The image of women has changed hugely since then, despite housewives at the time being something of a linchpin for every family, they were not considered equal to men. I liked the idea of being inspired by them to create a men’s collection, almost to vindicate their importance. I was also inspired by the considerable technological progress made during those years, their optimism and will to work and grow; to me they all seem issues inherent to today’s society, which needs the same positive outlook and proactivity. As far as sweaters are concerned, I wanted to keep the artisan appearance that is the essence of my brand, mixed with more cutting-edge technologies, such as the heat-sealing that Dyloan Studio did for us.
The emotion of winning ‘Who’s On Next?’?
It was a great satisfaction; I didn’t think I would win, also because the other finalists were really clever. However winning was a huge relief, both for the victory in itself, but also for all the prizes, which will give me the chance to continue to work on my brand more seriously.
Did you get a chance to talk with the other participants? Who did you like? And what do you think in general about this new generation of Italian designers?
I have to say that there was good feeling between all us finalists. Taking part in WION was truly a wonderful experience from every aspect. Each finalist had something interesting to offer. Ilariuss is perhaps the brand that I found closest to my taste. I really like the bags by Alan Buanne, as well, and the story behind his brand, the silhouettes, materials and colours of Tropiano and the clash between classicism and techno innovation by Traiano. I think that this new generation of Italian designers is bringing a breath of fresh air to the international fashion scene. I would, however, like to see more artisan-designers, who have no fear of getting their hands dirty and with more technical skills.
Where do the inspirations for a brand like yours come from? 
Fashion for me is a means of expression: there are those who paint, others who write poetry or play an instrument. For me, knitwear is my visual language, through which I manage to express my thinking. I don’t think that fashion is simply a form of artistic expression because, unlike other disciplines, like music or the visual arts, everything you produce then has to be worn by people, so you have to also manage to get inside the head of your fans or your clients and understand what they want.
How do you manage to be innovative in the field of knitwear?
In my opinion, in any field, not just that of knitwear, the only way to manage to be innovative today is to be yourself. Each of us is unique and given that we are privileged enough to work in a creative environment, it is important to remain loyal to what we are.

What is the importance of competitions like WION for a brand like yours?
It is an enormous boost on a personal level, unique compensation for all the years of sacrifice and hard work. It is also a sort of “passport” for being viewed with much more credibility and seriousness in the field of fashion.
A special memory linked to Pitti?
Over these past few years, Pitti has become like a second family to me and also working for the Pitti Filati Spazio Ricerca, I have met some really splendid people.
Projects for the future?
This summer I intend to chill out by the sea, at least for a month or so, given that I haven’t had a holiday for years! From September I foresee lots of work and lots of interesting projects: I will be starting a two-season collaboration with Herno and I am already working on the event for my new collection, which I will showcase in January at Pitti Uomo.