NO social media, NO website, ignore the Gen Y: FTW! The strange and mysterious case of Massimo Piombo.
Millennials are “skeptical” about luxury brands, Louis Vuitton makes surfboards, Burberry will send a spaceship to Mars; meanwhile, in China, the closing of Wooha.com was followed by the resignation of VIPKu’s CEO and deep cuts in staff at Xiu.com & Shangpin.com.
Bloggers are everywhere, tweeting their way to Fashion Valhalla.
Marc Jacobs gets tattooed by Scott Campbell live, watch it from your iPhone 8 from a Virgin plane.
You can now buy a desert island on The Fancy.
But Massimo Piombo doesn’t care. He does business the old way. They don’t even have a website.
Enlightened genius or irresponsible outsider?
From Esquire: ‘It was a year ago, give or take, that Massimo Piombo finally landed in America. His clothing label, Piombo, and its lean, unstructured tailoring had been favorites of Milan’s best-dressed men for two decades, and a great many globe-trotting fashion types would get their semiannual fix of bold colors, unexpected patterns and textures, and all-purpose sprezzatura at the Piombo store whenever they were in Milan. The rest of us, though, had no such luck. Piombo wasn’t sold in America. Not even online. And so when Barneys New York (under CEO Mark Lee, a longtime Piombo fan) began offering it a year ago, give or take, we had our chance. Massimo Piombo had finally landed, and now, a mere 12 months later, he’s introducing a new line, MP di Massimo Piombo.
What’s different about the new line: the prices, a few clicks higher than the original line’s, owing mostly to Piombo’s partner in the venture: Kiton. In joining forces with the Neapolitan tailoring powerhouse, Piombo has gained access to some of the best tailors in the world, and that, of course, comes at a cost. It’s “all handmade,” he says of the line, “with even the buttons sewn by hand.” And though his original label was hardly mass-produced, the age-old techniques behind the MP line are a cut above.
What’s the same: the man behind it. He still promotes an eclectic, worldly, often eccentric aesthetic. He still works near his childhood home outside Genoa. And he still travels the world sourcing one-of-a-kind cloths. Piombo has the stuff in his blood — his grandfather imported cloth from England to Italy — and it was after a trip to Scotland in 1988, in search of a mill that had woven the tweed used in a favorite jacket of his grandfather’s, that Piombo decided to start his own clothing line. He began by offering suits cut with narrow sleeves and high armholes, a break from the loose-fitting, one-style-fits-all suits that dominated the time. Yet more important than the fits were the suits’ fabrics — textured or patterned and hailing from Europe, Africa, and anywhere else he could find them. “The success of our brand,” says Piombo, “was due to the extreme, almost crazy searching for fabrics that were unique in the world.”
For fall, that means wool from Nepal and Somalia, cashmere from Scotland, cotton from Ethiopia and Austria, and handprinted silk from France, all of which are transformed by hand in Kiton’s workshops into suits, overcoats, and accessories. Every pattern is a passport, every texture a travelogue, and Piombo’s commitment to cloth is a reaction to what he describes as the “false luxury” he sees everywhere — the soulless products that “ridicule and strangle us.” With MP, he wants to focus on “the marriage between the sartorial manufacture of the garments and the magic of the fabrics used,” and that is a marriage we all want to succeed.’
Yes, you are right: I copied and pasted the whole article, since it is a perfect piece of writing about a perfect brand with the perfect philosophy.
The plot thickens.
From A Continuous Lean: ‘Knowing how vibrant Piombo can be, I was sort of surprised to see that Massimo was wearing all blue. “I only wear blue.” He declared. “In my closet I only have blue trousers, light blue shirts and maybe five blue jackets. All of the color lives in the collection, so I leave it there. I’m like a chef (who spends his day cooking elaborate meals and when he gets home he just wants something simple to eat).” Well said sir.’
More clues on the Maestro here, on YOOX.COM: ‘While Piombo’s artful mix of luxurious fabrics and eclectic designs is somewhat reminiscent of a master tailor’s charmingly quaint workshop, it is on thecorner.com that the Italian brand chose to make its worldwide debut. It most certainly makes sense that such a cosmopolitan project would now have a global presence, thus enabling men of all cultures and tastes to discover founder Massimo Piombo’s unconventional take on classic tailoring. What are the secrets behind this unusual style story? Mr Piombo’s great knowledge of the arts and his passion for travel for one; 19th century French novelist Huysmans is frequently mentioned as a key influence, while the fabrics used for the collections hail from the four corners of the planet, from Scottish wools to Indian cottons.’
Even more (Sartorially Inclined): ‘Most people are familiar with Piombo for their beautiful sportcoats that often grace the backs of street snapped men’s editors. This is a fine reputation for sure, but Piombo is much, much more. In fact, Massimo Piombo has created one of the most fascinating and enthralling Italian brands in recent memory. That may seem like high praise for clothing, but when taking in the Piombo brand as a whole you get a much better idea of what I’m talking about. Take, for example, the F/W 2011 advertising campaign, shot by Olivier Zahm, featuring Maxwell Snow (Dash Snow’s brother) and Leah De Wavrin. Fascinating is probably the best way to describe something like this. Or maybe Italian pimp shit is better. Regardless, I’m impressed, that’s for sure. I love how Piombo can make beautiful pieces of clothing that speak to quality and style on their own, but when viewed as a collection through Piombo’s lens, it takes on a new significance (I have juxtaposed these images below to help prove my point).’
Milan’s best-dressed men have been wearing Piombo for two decades; Barneys New York CEO Mark Lee is a longtime Piombo fan, and the Maestro’s great knowledge of the arts, his passion for travel and 19th century French novelists have helped the brand become almost legendary.
Menswear icons and sophisticated professionals de la mode love to wear Piombo, and the brand is so ground-breaking, brave and fearless that chooses controversial photographer Olivier Zahm for a campaign featuring subversive artist Maxwell Snow.
No Facebook page.
No Pinterest boards called “Timeless Inspiration”.
No Instagram competitions.
No RTs, @s, #s, check-ins and so on.
It makes sense, though; how could you possibly create one of the most exclusive brands and well-kept secrets in the world of fashion, if you have 155,979,545,445,998,005,954 fans on Facebook?
If the future is niche, then Mr. Piombo is a real space pioneer.
What do you think?
London Web Agency Appnova – keep following us on Twitter @appnova and “like” us on Facebook for useful news and tasteful digressions about geeky stuff.
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