The Florentine is publishing this series of interviews on the occasion of Vogue Fashion’s Night Out on September 17, 2015.
Brothers Stefano and Andrea Aschieri are the owners of Wood’d, an Italian lifestyle brand of wooden accessories. Their hallmark products are iPhone cases: the innovative use of wood is a breath of fresh air in the electronic accessory department. Showing their creations at the Pitti Uomo 2015 fashion fair in Florence was a crowning achievement for the siblings, as their company was only founded in January 2012. I had the pleasure of seeing their products in person, and Stefano was happy to answer some questions regarding his and his brother’s work.
Elle Springsteel: Are you from Florence? What made you want to be in Florence for Pitti Uomo?
Stefano Aschieri: No, we're not from Florence, we're from Milan. Pitti was our first fashion show since we started our business three years ago.
ES: Why have you chosen to focus on iPhone cases? Do you design anything else?
SA: iPhone cases are our main focus, but the question to ask isn’t really ‘Why iPhone cases?’ but ‘Why wood?’ There’s a kind of lifestyle when it comes to wooden accessories. The reason we chose wood is because our family has been manufacturing wood for the last 50 years, so we took our extensive knowledge of the material and the processes, and we made our signature product, which is the iPhone case.
ES: When did you decide that you really wanted to pursue design?
SA: We’ve always considered ourselves creative people, but we are not designers first and foremost. I come from the communications sector, so I work as a photographer and an assistant photographer. Andrea was in the fashion business; he worked as a visual merchandiser around Italy. So, we don’t see ourselves as designers, but we put everything into our product, from manufacturing, to communications and design.
ES: Have you and Andrea ever considered creating a clothing line?
SA: No, not yet. We think that companies work best by focusing on one product and by really trying to pursue that one product in the best way possible and just living for that product.
ES: How would you describe your product line?
SA: We’d like people to think of us as an Italian-based manufacturing company with great research into design and graphics, and the way that design, graphics and innovative production processes can bring together products such as the iPhone cover.
ES: Is it just you and Andrea involved in the creation process of your products?
SA: There are six of us in the team, because from the moment that we started the manufacturing process, there was a real need for people to help us produce all the items.
ES: Do you prefer to focus on online or in-store sales?
SA: We sell both online and in-store, but mainly in-store. Attending fashion shows such as Pitti seems to bring the brand mostly into physical stores. Online sales are very important, but sometimes they can be slower than in physical stores. It depends on the product you have; with this product, I think that it is slower selling it online.
ES: What do you think the biggest challenge in your career path will be?
SA: That’s a hard question because we are two young guys, and we just work day by day. We work very hard, and we can never tell what will be in our future, but things are going really well. We started just a few years ago, and right now our product is not only online and in Italy but we also have distributors in Japan, China, Greece and Korea. I think being at Pitti was already a major achievement. Soon we’ll be in Paris, and that’s another challenge. Then we’ll be in Berlin, and that’s another challenge. And so on…
About Fashion in Florence
In May-June 2015 ISI (International Studies Institute of Florence) offered an innovative class in Fashion Communication for non-specialized students in design. Emphasis was on analysis of leading fashion media critics, commentators, bloggers and influencers. Students had the opportunity to visit one day of Pitti Uomo #88 at the Fortezza da Basso and write their reports and blogs including one-on-one interviews with leading young figures in Fashion in Florence. Professor Emeritus Mark Bernheim headed the team, which included fashion commentator and assistant Alessandro Masetti, and his colleagues. The Institute plans to offer this course again in 2016.