The Florentine is publishing this series of interviews on the occasion of Vogue Fashion’s Night Out on September 17, 2015.
Claudia Cennamo and Marco Capaccioli, the owners of the men’s knitwear brand NO Artigiani Italiani, have taken the fashion industry by storm in just two short years. The Prato-based pair incorporate their ideologies into every detail: from the name to the designs, everything is representational. Claudia and Marco use bright and contrasting colors in their knitwear collections featuring polka dots, stripes and checks, but the main feature is the use of varied knitting techniques, such as inside-out fabric effect or combining completely different knitting points to create something new and unusual.
In my interview with Claudia Cennamo, we talk about her inspirations, designs, achievements, and what we can expect to see from the brand in the future.
Maxine Bruder: What’s the vision behind NO Artigiani Italiani?
Claudia Cennamo: The main inspiration is Japan. The name of the brand is based on ‘Noh’, which is a type of traditional theater with a coup de théâtre that upsets the balance of the play. We wanted to link this sense of surprise to our personal way of conceiving a new brand in the old scenario of the fashion industry in Italy.
MB: What’s your target market or what kinds of people do you envision wearing your brand?
CC: Our target is men between 20 and 50 years old. You can consider our clothing as shocking pieces that make a statement, so they are mainly for the young. But there are also more basic items for people in their ‘40s and ‘50s.
MB: What do you think is most successful about your brand?
CC: We have a sound price-quality balance because you can buy a really high-quality piece at an affordable price. Every single item is made in Prato by our own firm, and this adds value for the end customer. Today, everyone produces things in China; we are proudly ‘Made in Italy’, and this serves as one of the highlights of the brand. In doing this, we differ from other brands because we don’t have an industry supply chain but rather do everything by ourselves: the concepts, designs and making of clothes. That’s why our prices are low.
MB: What’s your opinion about fashion in Florence and where does your brand fit into it?
CC: Fashion is very important for Florence. I think that our artisanal origins are very important to us, which is why we made this clear even in our brand name, stating that we are all about Italian products which are made right here. We could never be anywhere else, only in Tuscany. We think it’s important to concentrate on Italy.
MB: Do you see your brand expanding beyond knitwear?
CC: No. I think that our business is knitwear-only because other products would not be as good as these. We’d lose the quality and the price point if we ventured into other segments. Now, after two years in business, I’m absolutely sure that customers prefer one high-quality product instead of a whole fashion line whose products don’t have the same high standard.
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.