With the clear aim of creating an innovative product, a new take on classic menswear, the brand Traiano stands out not only for its contemporary vision of style, but also for its research into fabrics, often techno, used for clothing that is comfy, practical and performing. Filippo Colnaghi has chosen to continue the tradition of his family, in the textile industry since the forties, and together with designer Andrea Busnelli he took the brand to the finals of the last edition of the prestigious 'Who Is On Next?' competition, held during the 90th Pitti. We interviewed him to learn more about the world of Traiano.
How did the brand come about?
The brand was created to meet a need: I wanted to dress elegantly, but with all the comfort of techno/sportswear. I often flew between Italy and the United States and I always ended up travelling in a loose shirt and slightly stretch chinos. I looked in vain on internet for brands that teamed comfort with a strictly “Italian" style. Not finding anything, I was forced to create myself a collection with all the style and technical characteristics I thought were necessary based on my travel experiences.
Am I right in saying that you continued a family tradition when you realised that you wanted to start your own project?
In 1962, at the age of 22, my father founded his first textile company. Today the Carvico textile group is considered a benchmark in the field of ladder-proof stretch fabrics, also known as Lycra, generally used for swimming costumes, underwear and sportswear. I realised that I had to exploit my family knowhow of techno fabrics and therefore use sports fabrics to make my concept of practical, comfy tailored clothes.
Can you describe the brand’s style?
The brand’s style has a generally classic imprint, our models are cut out or made up with shapes that are traditionally Italian in style. This choice was triggered by the fact that, because we are using a fabric that is highly techno, practically off the scale, we preferred to keep the lines understated in order not to jeopardise initial sales to the public.
What kind of man does the line target?
We are looking at customers who do not follow fashion trends, who seek a more “normal” product that is, however, innovative in its material and performance. Our target is mainly a dynamic man, entrepreneur of life who desires quality in content rather than in appearances. Thanks to a technology that allows us to emulate any kind of fabric, our blazers, for example, look like classic men’s outerwear, yet their true distinguishing feature lies in their unique incomparable characteristics: as comfy as a sweat, they don’t crease in the suitcase or when worn and can be washed in a machine or on the go.
What is a synonym of elegance for you?
Simplicity. Unfortunately we live in a society so fixated with innovating and being “different” that it ends up by creating monsters accepted as art, style and beauty. This mindset means we forget that there are existing realities that have not yet been completely explored, product created, but not perfected; elegant blazers that do not perform.
How important is the web for a brand like yours?
"ça va sans dire"... The web is essential nowadays, minimum investment in terms of time and money brings you a visibility that in the past was only achievable through television, spending bucketloads of money. It is the turning point for young businesses like ours that, lacking infinite capital, have to create their own space among all the fashion giants.
The emotion of taking part in such an important competition and a memory linked this edition?
The emotion was mainly the result of the huge satisfaction in being finally able to show to the maestros of fashion a product I totally believe in; a product you have sweated over and spent sleepless nights thinking about; a project that is by now a part of your life, with the high hopes and intention of taking it into the lives of millions of people. This feeling was shared by all the WION entrants in a single close-knit group, friendly and willing to help each other out, without any competitive angst. It was really wonderful to get to know young designers who, like me, were building their own future.
How important do you think competitions like WION are?
They are extremely important because they give visibility to brands that are often left in the shadows, even when they have a more valid product that the big names. But this is a minor detail. What they really offer is support and knowhow from big experts in the sector, who spend time and show interest, helping you and advising you on the directions to follow in order to take your project further and further ahead.
Projects for the future?
To change perception of the classic suit.