As Première Vision's international exhibitions director, Guglielmo Olearo has a global scope of the denim industry.
He’s new to the denim game, but Guglielmo Olearo, international exhibitions director at Première Vision, said he’s learned to love the denim industry. The affair began three years ago when his responsibilities were expanded to include overseeing Denim Première Vision.
Olearo quickly brought the show on the road, holding editions in London and Milan. He also added programming for sustainability and innovation to the event, both areas he considers vital to the denim industry. “When I took over Denim Première Vision, I was instrumental in expanding it because it was necessary—it was the right time,” he said.
And the sector’s sense of community and collaboration has further deepened his ties with denim. “It’s friendly, it’s relaxed. People might be competitors, but they always greet each other and shake hands and talk about what they’re doing,” he said. “The rest of the fashion industry can learn from it.”
Why are you drawn to the business of denim?
I was drawn to denim when I joined the denim team at Première Vision two years ago and we decided to adapt the format to give more attention to the product supply chain. We decided to move the format from a static show to a roving show. The idea is to change the city every six months–we started with Paris, then to London, and then went to Milan last May and we’ll go back to London next. We also decided to have a different calendar (end of May and early December) because it is not the calendar of the pure player anymore, which has a longer development cycle. Most of the rest of the market now works on a closer to season calendar.
We maintained the focus on fashion, of course, while putting a new focus on sustainability, from the suppliers and the fabrics to the brands. There’s an educational side to it, with seminars and information. I think it’s proven very successful.
What challenges lay ahead for the denim sector?
The big challenge is basically that the denim sector has to reinvent itself because it’s not like it was 15 or 20 years ago when it was dominated by the pure players. The time to market has completely changed and companies still have to invest in innovation every day, not just when there’s a new season. So, time to market and innovation has to be sped up. And not all the actors in the denim value chain are able to do it right now.
In addition, sustainability is no longer an option, it is a must. Every single company in the denim world has to work on sustainable projects. When you look at the fashion landscape, on the denim side, there are already fantastic initiatives, whether it’s recycled or organic cotton, or using less harmful chemicals. On the garment side, there’s more attention to the social well-being of the worker.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received?
It’s very simple: Always keep moving. It’s a good to look at the past, but it’s better to look at the future.
What can other industries learn from the denim sector?
What’s fantastic in denim is the spirt of community. It’s like a large family and the rest of the fashion world can take some inspiration from it. It’s built on relationships and it’s very informal and I really love this way of doing business.
What’s exciting you about denim in 2019?
For me, what’s always exciting in denim is to see how this very simple and basic fabric can be so versatile. It can be interpreted in so many different ways. What started as a fabric for workwear is now very fashionable and glamorous, and I think that is wonderful.