Atelier & Repair co-founder, CEO and creative director Maurizio Donadi has a solution to the apparel industry's excess problem.
Fashion isn’t what drives Maurizio Donadi—at least in the case of Atelier & Repairs.
Instead, the former executive for Diesel, Giorgio Armani, Ralph Lauren, and Levi Strauss & Co. considers what he does at Atelier & Repairs a “hobby,” one that allows him to recondition things that already exist.
“I was sick and tired of making companies produce more,” said Donadi, the co-founder, creative director and CEO of the company.
And in the process, his so-called hobby is elevating the status of upcycled garments, particularly through collaborations with legacy companies like Dockers and Candiani.
“My focus right now is combining responsibility with creativity,” Donadi said. “The two together can be a powerful tool in order to make a better impact in our society and on our planet.”
Describe your design aesthetic.
I’m uncomfortable with how much denim is the same in the industry. My approach is to somehow question why jeans are made. Even though people think I’m a denim guy, I don’t feel that way. I’m not a denim expert, a technician or a developer. I’m fascinated with the color blue and within the color blue there is a lot of denim.
Why do you think your designs are resonating with consumers today?
It is very clear in our manifesto that we are not a brand. It’s an initiative to reduce excess in the most creative way possible and people who come across what we do understand. They ask questions and then they become extremely passionate about it. Our customer is very loyal because we don’t trap them into the brand story. We talk to them as citizens, not as consumers. For me, there is a major difference. A consumer is a target. I want to talk to the citizen and encourage them to shop differently. You don’t have to shop what I make, but think about what our industry is for you and your approach to clothing.
If you could change on thing about the denim industry, what would it be?
There is very little creativity, with a few exceptions. We’re copying each other and we’re making a lot more than what is needed. We’re racing towards making companies bigger and insignificant. My wish is for companies to stay small, be relevant, creative, transparent and to not lie to the end consumer. There are a lot of companies using mixed messages to grow their business.
What advice would you give to a new denim designer?
Style is a personal thing. Don’t follow others. Formulate your own idea, and over time it will be stronger.
What’s exciting you about denim in 2019?
There are a few things this year, the first being introduced to Saitex in Vietnam. It’s impossible to find a big corporation in clothing that is as clean and clear as they are. What Saitex has achieved requires vision, investment, patience and new ways to do production. Another company that impressed me is Candiani Denim. We’ve been using their sustainable Re-Gen fabric for a small collaboration because we care about working with people who can change the rules and create new standards.