photo credits Casey Griffin
The Florentine is publishing this series of interviews on the occasion of Vogue Fashion’s Night Out on September 17, 2015.
Renowned brand SuperDuper Hats by Florentine designers Matteo Gioli and sisters Ilaria and Veronica Cornacchini began in 2010 out of a fun-loving passion for handcrafted hats when, by chance, they discovered an old, beautifully carved wooden hat blocker. The unique creations perfectly capture the spirit of handmade Tuscan traditions, while still incorporating new and contemporary details tuned into the market’s modern demands. In 2013 SuperDuper Hats won the ‘Who is on Next? Uomo’ contest and the designers exhibited at Pitti Uomo for the first time in 2014, with a performance inspired by the Gandy dancers—the American railroad workers who synchronized their work with singing and carefully-timed movements in a sort of collective dance. In January 2015, they launched a menswear capsule collection by Matteo Gioli and Stefano Ughetti, consisting of 27 outfits inspired by the iconic Italian bike racers Fausto Coppi and Gino Bartali. Recently, they presented their Riverside Blues Spring/Summer 2016 collection on the Arno riverbank, with a performance by UK artist DollarBill. I met with Ilaria Cornacchini in the “Touch!” pavilion at Pitti Uomo 88, a place dear to the brand’s heart since their beginnings in the fashion industry.
Casey Griffin: How did you get into designing hats?
Ilaria Cornacchini: We started doing it for ourselves. We found a wooden hat blocker and it took a couple of months to make the first hat. We started just doing it for us, then we did it for a friend…We soon became a business, but without a business plan. It just happened!
CG: What’s your vision and message?
IC: We’re trying to get people to wear hats every day with everyday clothes. Many people, especially in Europe, believe you only wear hats when you get dressed up, but we think otherwise. In fact, our top market is Japan, where people wear hats on a daily basis.
CG: What is it about SuperDuper hats that is different from other hats?
IC: We create modern products that are still high quality but not too traditional. In today’s market you can find good-quality hats but the styles are too classical, or you can find modern hats made with low-quality materials. Instead, we try to put together the best of both: high-quality materials and modern touches. It seems to work.
CG: All of your hats are handmade. What does the ‘hat-making’ process consist of?
IC: We have a studio where we do prototypes and sketches, then we move to a workshop here in Tuscany where craftsmen make traditional Florentine hats. Every SuperDuper hat is a creative jewel inspired by the moment or a client’s wishes. It’s the result of a traditional process yet with modern design touches. Every hat is created after several hours spent transforming the finest raw materials into an authentic handcrafted product. It becomes a SuperDuper hat only if we are truly satisfied with the final result—in other words, only if we’re willing to be the first ones to wear it.
CG: When designing your hats, where do you look for inspiration?
IC: Everywhere. It could be from traveling, books, anything! For example, the latest collection that we presented along the Arno river here in Florence took inspiration from Mississippi blues music.
CG: What’s your relationship with Florence?
IC: We are based in Florence. We were all born in Tuscany and we grew up and studied here.
CG: Do you agree that Florence is one of the world’s fashion capitals?
IC: I think that Florence during Pitti Uomo is a very important place to be because you can find many interesting things at this internationally renowned fashion fair. I do believe that it is the most important menswear fashion fair in the world. Yes, there are other places like Paris, but Florence during Pitti Uomo really makes the difference. Being there in 2014, it was our first fashion fair, and it was where everything began. Now, each year keeps giving us a lot of satisfaction, and for our customers, too, we hope!
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.