Over the next two weeks, MR presents our 2022 profiles of industry leaders whose vision, creativity, and courage are shaking things up, some quietly, some with a bang. Whether conceiving new ways to do business, saving the planet, creating new value systems or simply producing a best-in-class product, these industry groundbreakers continue to blaze new trails, inspiring us to blaze our own. We start with Maurizio Donadi, co-founder of Atelier and Repairs and founder of Transnomadica. His insights into the current state of menswear are truly thought-provoking.
“I was lucky enough to have worked for several great companies over the years: Benetton in the 80s, Diesel Jeans in the 90s followed by Giorgio Armani, Ralph Lauren and Levi’s until I left the corporate world in 2012. At some of these brands, I reported directly to the founders or else to talented directors/CEOs.
“During the last 10 years as a consultant, I’ve been exposed to corporate acquisitions, changes of brand identity, innovative product strategies, unusual marketing initiatives and so on.
As a business owner, I’ve learned that success is rarely defined by a single measure (profit, for example) but rather by a combination of elements that change every day.
My mentors are visionaries from the past: poets, artists, engineers, philosophers, writers, musicians. Although I never met any of them, they’ve inspired me and still give me the energy and curiosity to think differently and explore possibilities, thereby pushing me to become a better person.
“During the last seven years, I’ve been working hard to find ways of eliminating the excess our fashion industry generates. I co-founded an initiative called Atelier&Repairs (which was recently moved under the responsibility of Saitex USA) and started Transnomadica, a concept based on my 14,000-piece archive that serves brands and companies as an inspiration for the creative process and responsible practices. I continue to consult, which keeps me curious and encourages me to find creative solutions for our industry. I’m proud that I’ve retained my integrity and discovered my own professional religion in the elimination of waste.
“I also just opened a new retail concept space. It’s truly a destination store (by appointment only), where I curate an assortment of vintage, fashion archival and collectable clothes with a major focus on Made-in-Japan secondhand blue jeans, reconditioned and re-imagined.
Unfortunately, I look at the present retail landscape and see an extraordinary amount of confusion around menswear. I see badly made clothes at luxury prices. I see some great design from fast fashion houses and uninspiring collections from what used to be relevant, creative and innovative brands. Too many retailers have lost their grasp on dressing the modern man. Others are trying too hard to be cool. I see buyers and merchandisers who are unprepared to make product decisions and CEOs with strategies in a state of confusion.
“I believe a few brands have it right–small, creative, nimble companies that are not yet household names. In my crystal ball, a new group of independently owned retailers will recognize this talent and rise to the top. But as an industry, there’s an unimaginable amount of work ahead of us to course-correct today’s practices.
“My advice to industry newcomers: Today is the day! Don’t postpone to tomorrow what you can do right now. Yesterday is gone and tomorrow is far away. Our wealth is in today.
Also, don’t try to be the best, just do the best you can, recognizing that no idea is final.”