Sunday, April 17, 2011

MAURIZIO DONADI: MAKING HISTORY CONTINUED...

JJ: How would you describe Levi’s® Made & Crafted™ and how does it differ from the Levi’s® Vintage Clothing line?


MD: Levi’s® Made & Crafted™ is a brand that reflects the future of Levi’s®. If LVC is about history, this new project is about a sense of understanding within the Levi’s® planet based on the question: "How would we approach this if we were to start Levi’s® today?" It instantly becomes about anything but fashion. It’s about utility, and practicality. It’s about building a brand, yes, but the term brand is maybe a bit misleading. It’s about responding to a new way of living - faster, slower, new. So we started experimenting and creating an identity for this new project.


Starting a new brand out of a long established one can’t be easy; especially when its gestation period is anything but private; it’s like having to grow up fast and in public.


It was definitely challenging. Starting from scratch, we had to ask ourselves questions like, “What does the label look like?" and "Why does it look like that? What’s the fabrication?” We made a lot of mistakes building this brand. At one point we looked too European. Then we looked too flat, too neutral. Our point of view wasn’t strong enough. We had to take into consideration many philosophical interpretations of what the project was about. We needed to be global and American - of course it’s Levi’s®. Even though we respect the idea of being a denim brand we want more than that. We can’t be happy with simply building another denim brand. So we focussed on looking and feeling non-denim. And this is considering that denim will always be part of our DNA. How to be based outside blue? Processing this was an amazing experience. We created a different design team, and we look at technology through different eyes.


What does it look like? As yet, I've not seen the product.


It’s LVC on the left and LMC on the right, old and new, dirty and clean. One is history and the other one is modernity. One is about being maniacal with reproduction of the past and the other is about looking at modern Americana with new eyes - thinking like we’re not even a clothing company. It’s as if we might even be designing chairs this time next year.


To me modern design, even when it comes to clothing is moving closer and closer to the ideas that underpin architecture for example. It’s about how it applies to the way we live.


Again, we’re not looking at Levi’s® Made & Crafted™as a classic piece of fashion or clothing, or anything trendy. It’s a wardrobe for the moment but it could be a house tomorrow. It’s about having that point of view. Our approach is very art and science, very industrial design. Maybe I’m not saying anything new. It’s not revolutionary per se, but it’s revolutionary for my company and it’s new in a way that keeps me smiling.


Funny because when I first heard that you were doing LVC, having spent some time with you in Vegas in 2009, I thought to myself: Ah, he’s not going to be happy. He’s doing vintage, vintage, vintage. He’s back doing vintage, like he was at RRL. He’ll be bored. What I know of you is that you’re very forward focused. So although there must be a great deal of satisfaction creating a brand which tapped into the vaults, I also had the feeling that you’d be eager to look ahead at this point in your career and start at year zero with a project as well.


It’s probably one of the most interesting projects in our industry today. Just thinking about connecting the notion of modern with Levi’s® seems weird. As a company so authenticity based and heritage focused, creating something new and modern out of that is what it’s about - that’s why I love this project.


It’s a big move for Levi’s® I guess; for you it must have felt like sneaking a CAD designer into an Arts and Crafts convention. It’s obviously a learning curve for the brand, but is it the same for you?


It’s a wonderful journey. I’ve never done anything like this professionally. It’s like being part of a cultural transformation. It’s more than material, fabric or jeans. It’s a real shift within a company that I, like so many other people, have been an admirer of ever since I was a child. My professional life, my journey, can stop now and it would be extremely rewarding just being one of the people working on this project. So, imagine how I approach everyday?


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