When he started the Etro fashion house in 1968 Gimmo Etro took inspiration from the Paisley print and the lifestyle the surrounds, this colourful, free-moving symbol. Today, over 50 years later, the Italian fashion house still holds this print and the ethos Gimmo created at the heart of the brand. A brand that defines bohemian styles and is a master when it comes to creating prints, Etro has built a true niche for itself allowing it to sustain in a saturated fashion world.
Today, Etro is managed by Gimmo’s four children; Kean, Jacopo, Ippolito and Veronica, so it’s true to say this fashion house is a true family business. Veronica is Creative Director of the Women’s collections. She joined the business in 1998 after studying in London and unveiled her first runway collection in 2000. Since then, Veronica has worked hard to steer the women’s collections in a direction that embraces the heritage and DNA of the brand but celebrates the modern woman of today and all she is looking for. She maintains the classic Paisley print as a key factor in all of her collections but we have seen it in new fabrics, colours and styles.
Veronica is often inspired by different cultures and that is something that has been seen at the brand since the beginning. Bringing together all the world has to offer and combining that with the heritage of its home country allows Etro to create something quite unique. Here we discuss with Veronica Etro the importance of remaining true to her family’s values but embracing innovation and technology as we move into the future.
What does Italy mean to you as a person?
Italy is a special country: not only because it is my home country but also because in such a small area it gathers a variety of incredible landscapes, traditions, arts and cultures. If I were to create a mood board about Italy, it would surely be a combination of all of the above: from seaside and mountain views to architecture and local specialities, with the addition of warmth, passion, sunshine and creativity.
Tell us more about the importance of “Made in Italy” and why do you think there is such a fascination with this concept globally?
Made in Italy is not only a label. It is rather a value, an expression of cultural knowledge and craftsmanship techniques which have flourished in Italy over the years and have been handed down from generation to generation as precious traditions. People come to Italy from all over the world to produce their collections and accessories: Italy is a symbol of high quality and good taste.
How important is it to you to preserve traditional crafts and handmade techniques?
Extremely important! They are real treasures for our country and I hope innovation will be able to integrate, support and safeguard artisans, not destroy them.
When it comes to these techniques – what do you think Italy offers that is unique?
Assuming extraordinary quality and attention to detail as fundamental, I feel that the added value Italy offers is the passion we put in what we love to do. We are creative also in always finding new solutions and never giving up. Thinking positive is the Italian way of overcoming obstacles and barriers.
How do you think the values and culture of Italy are seen throughout Etro?
Etro is profoundly Italian for sure, but we have always been open to influences from different eras, cultures and areas of the world. As a family we have always been very fond of art and travelling – not only physically but also with our minds. What my father Gimmo has passed on to me and my brothers since our early childhood is curiosity: it opens your mind so you never feel bored. The world is full of beautiful things to be discovered.
How do you think the legacy and history of the brand is still relevant today?
Since it was founded in 1968, Etro has established and developed a very distinctive aesthetic. Strong colour combinations, Paisley prints and eclectic patterns that convey a sense of freedom and discovery. These have always characterized – and still do today – not only our fashion collections but our lifestyle as a whole. In more recent years, fashion has fostered a continuous evolution of temporary trends, especially in reference to streetwear. I am happy and proud to say that at Etro we have always believed in our identity and remained faithful to our legacy, preserving and nurturing our founding values and stylistic codes. Actually, there is more to this! Following our 50th anniversary, over the last year, we have worked on our classics and re-edited two of our iconic items: the Pegaso Bag, crafted from our signature Paisley fabric, and my father’s first striped shirt, the GE01, re-edited with a more contemporary and genderless t.
Italy has suffered greatly throughout the global pandemic but in every crisis, there is always an opportunity – what is something positive that will come out of this situation?
For years, the fashion industry has experienced a sort of addiction for collections, products, special projects and capsules. I truly feel now is an opportunity to rethink and give new meaning to our work: it’s time to go back to concrete values and authenticity. I hope this terrible time we are all going through will give way to a new renaissance, based on more solid ground, with a more responsible and respectful mindset. Fashion needs more pragmatism and new awareness.
What is the motto you are living by during this time?
In general, in life, I always try to stay positive and to see the glass half full rather than half empty. I believe that it is important to attract positive thoughts and relate to positive people and things to gain good energy. The terrible times we are now living are surely unprecedented and my life motto is not always applicable. Nevertheless, I remind myself every day to not lose hope and vision for a more responsible future.
Looking forward, what does the second half of 2020 hold for Etro?
We are working on the future step by step, exploring new ways to engage with our audience. A first step is the creation of a virtual showroom to allow the presentation of the upcoming collections to those who will not be able to travel in the coming months. This new digital space, which will be complementary to the physical Milan sales showroom, will not only be a technical project: the aim is to create an experiential and visual environment able to convey the brand’s heritage and values.
We want to talk a little about the spring/summer collection – what can you tell us about it?
I was inspired by two contrasting souls: posh pirates, such as Anne Bonny and Mary Read, and aristo groupies, like Anita Pallenberg and Marianne Faithfull. The wild and the free-spirited meet the ultimate bourgeois sophistication in a collection which adds influences from the hippies’ favourite Seventies retreats, such as Tangier and Goa, to sartorial refinement, embracing lightness and an effortless attitude.
Who is the Etro woman of 2020?
A fierce and passionate woman who embarks on an adventurous trip, not only physically but also in her mind. The sky is her limit.
Growing up, what is your first memory of Italy?
I remember travelling a lot with my family in my early years. My first memory is Venice: a magical city which, with the eyes of a kid, is truly incredible and somewhat surreal. I remember the beauty of the golden Venetian masks and passing under the iconic Ponte dei Sospiri on a gondola.
Where in Italy do you like to travel to?
One of the most recent places I visited with my family is Naples. It is so colourful. I love to eat Eating typical street food, like pizza alla scarola, in the crowded narrow streets of the city centre; climb the active volcano Vesuvius; walk on the ancient mosaics of Ercolano and Pompei archaeological sites and admire the veiled Christ at the Museo Cappella Sansevero: these are just a few of my suggestions – It’s really worth a visit!
Can you share with us any Italian traditions that you to this day continue with your family and friends?
Good food is certainly one of the most celebrated Italian traditions. Even though I am very practical and manual, I am not much of a kitchen-person myself, but luckily my husband is very good at quite a few recipes – especially gnocchi, lasagne, tagliatelle and homemade pizza…a real treat! I also find that cooking is a great means of sociality: in our case, for example, it’s an important moment for a family gathering with my two sons, especially during the weekend.
What’s your favourite Italian dish to eat?
I am in love with pasta: my favourite is spaghetti aglio, olio e peperoncino – the simplest but the best!
How would you describe Italy in one word?
Authentic. But also real, passionate, warm.