In this age of destruction, a restorative vision is a breath of fresh air. In talking to the creative director of Italian knitwear brand VITELLI, MAURO SIMIONATO’s hope for the future of fashion immediately becomes clear: unity through dialogue. Creating change through the power of community is Simionato and his partner GIULIA BORTOLI’s goal; building bridges to nourish society as well as our planet. To get there, Vitelli focuses on protecting creative tradition, allowing the in- dividual voice to speak and inciting change where change is due. The brand’s narrative is never singular; in building a sustainable future, the first step is a sustainable society.
Simionato begins by explaining the geographical and social undertones of the communities in which he lives (Milan) and produces (Vicenza). “The knitwear district around Vicenza is a hive of small, family-owned labs,” he says. “The bigger knitting suppliers collect knits from them, just as the beekeeper collects honey.” It’s a well-oiled system of production—one with neither heart, passion nor creativity. “Most of these excellent knitters are overshadowed by big companies and kept out of fashion ‘culture’. For Simionato, that means we’re losing the history of the craft to capitalist mass production, as well as the unique story behind each piece. “It’s amazing what you can learn when you go talk to every single artisan, and how they slowly open up and engage in creativity.” Within these stories, a community can be built, a community that takes care of tradition and treasures autonomy while creating ethically handled and produced garments. “Bridging this cultural gap became one of our main goals,” Simionato explains. As the community grows, the impact expands beyond the local economy, into a rising movement of sustainability.
In building a creative hub in which the divide of demographics is eradicated, a dialogue is created. The old help the young—and vice versa—through the power of innovative production and indiscriminate collaboration. This was the intention from the very beginning: “We started Vitelli back in 2016 as a cross-disciplinary project,” Simionato explains, “a place where ‘old’ Italian craftsmanship and local youth culture could meet and be in dialogue.” It is this dialogue that is integral in the hunt for change. The true meaning behind collectivism, as well as the arena in which progress can be made, falls under community. When uniting generations, beliefs and ways of life, it’s important to be “as conscious as possible in each of the creative and production steps,” he says. “We must all get together and pave the only possible way today.” Unionising humanity is the penultimate step to radical change.
Within all this change lies synonymy within the culture. “We try to understand what stile Italiano means—what is it that makes us different from other cultures? No matter how ‘one’ culture is prevalent for our references and visions, we still study and create from and through an Italian perspective”, Simionato explains. “We want to understand what it is, and we are learning, by doing it season after season.” Here, a message of self-discovery lies within the very culture of discovery. A unifying factor in creating sustainable change.