Carlo D'Amario



- Carlo, you have been working in the fashion industry longer than the Numéro Brand exists. How did fashion change throughout the past 30 years?

- To make fashion always requires a little passion. This is a very young business. The fashion we know, the pret-a-porter started only 40-50 years ago. You can see the movie industry is under 40 years old, the fashion industry is 40 years, the car dealerships are under 50 years, vehicle architecture is thousands of years! In the global understanding, it is nothing. Bambino! This is still the beginning of fashion. Before Covid we were in one situation, but now everything is changing in terms of communications, in terms of creativity, in terms of commercial, production and distribution. The customer changed. Their age used to be after 30, when they were grown up, had money and jobs... Now the customers are young people between 20 to 30 years. It has completely changed. 30-35 years old audience is full of clothes now, they don’t need it anymore. It is the youngpeople, who want it now. Of course, the product needs to change, as well as the way it is sold. I remember this word “e-commerce”, when I heard it 10 years ago, I said : “What do you mean ‘e-commerce’? I am a couturier! Come to my showroom, to my atelier and I will show you my pieces.” To sell in e-commerce was almost like selling a stock. And what is now? Everybody wants to buy online.


- What about fashion shows? There is a big discussion regarding it right now.

- The fashion show 10 years ago worked like this: the customer would come to a show, if they like - they buy, if they don’t like - they don’t buy. Now it is different. And there are several reasons for that. First of all, there is more product supply than customers. Secondly, the customer now buys what their computer shows them. If they sold it last season - they would buy more. Before, they would buy a lot and would sell everything, because the demand was huge, there were more customers, than the product. Another thing that is happening - the show itself. It used to be a business, now it is a show for the ego of the designer, let alone how expensive it is nowadays. In this kind of pandemic, a lot of big fashion leaders are throwing big fashion shows, but it's almost like during the French Revolution, when Maria Anthoinette was trying to give people the usual things...People don’t want this kind of exhibition anymore, they don’t care.


- And what do they want?

- To describe what people want I will use this metaphor “they want the girl from next door”. If you go to arestaurant you no longer buy wine for 200 dollars, you don’t need it. If you go to a supermarket now - you can buy a wonderful bottle of wine for 6 dollars. It was not possible in the past. Why? Because you can’t sell a bad product, even if you don’t have the money. Anglosaxons use this incredible term “value for money”. They say 3 things are very good in any business - location, “customer is key” and the third is value for money. You have to combine all of them, because, as I said before, there is more product than customers and they rule the market. It is the market who gives the direction, not the designer. Look at China…


- 70 percent of the luxury market…

- 15 years ago I was in Asia, in Japan. In one of the meetings they told me : ‘You should make some bags”. I was very rejectful, because bags were so old-fashioned! 10 years later - everyone is making bags! Why? Because young girls don’t have themoney for a luxury Giorgio Armani suit, they have one T-shirt, one pair of jeans and this luxurious bag. This trend came from Asia. For example, the image of a power-woman came from America. If the customer wants pizza Napoletana, you must give him pizza Napoletana, in the way and style of your restaurant, but it still has to be pizza.


- How fashion came into your life?

- In the 80s Milan was like Moscow, a very industrial city, full of fog, people were hard working class. Suddenly, everyone started to produce in Asia or the communist countries, where labor was cheaper. And now the city is empty, fog is gone, beautiful city! I was a student at University back then.


- What did you study?

- Philosophy. I used to be a communist. New business started to evolve. There was a small Armani showroom, a small Versace one. Their showrooms were as big as the room, where we are sitting in. Every time I was passing it by, I saw those beautiful girls inside!


- Cherchez la femme?

- (laughs).. Yes! You know, there was no telephone back then, you needed to call home and ask to talk to your girlfriend...Most of the time her father would pick up and you can imagine what happened next. So, of course, I was fascinated. I started to work with Armani. Unfortunately, I was considered not a serious man, everyone would make fun at the party, at the university, but I liked this job. At the beginning it was like “sex, drugs and rock-n-roll”, but after it became a serious business - with its industry, production, communication.


- And then you found the one, the business partner, with whom you have been working for 20 years, Viviene. How did it happen?

- I was working with the agency and my friends told me: “Go to Paris to see one punk.” I was very concerned. But I went to see her. She was working together with Malcolm McLaren. So I asked her what her fashion was about. She replied: “I want to change the world with my fashion!” So, I said “Why don’t we sit down. I respect your idea, but in the end if you want to destroy the system, the system will destroy you.” It is like with a car - when you drive a Ferrari 100 miles per hour, and you are trying to break the car, it starts to go 30 miles instead of 100. You go to a Ferrari salon, they fix it and that’s it. If you want to destroy the car - drive it at 300 miles per hour. In this way the car explodes. The same applies to the system. If you want to change it, you have to be be faster. Like China, look, how fast they are and where they are now. So I said to Vivienne: “I understand, you are a punk, but if you want to change the system, you must be elegant.” And for me the 17th century was the top of elegancy.


- So this is how it started…

- She said: “Why don’t you come to London and we work together?” And I went there. When I arrived, I realised that they didn’t have any studio, any proper production, it was such a punky place. Of course, punks had big success back then, but there wasn’t any infrastructure behind that. One part of me wanted to say “Thank you, ciao!”, but another part somehow really liked the girl, so I stayed. She was like a child, who invited me to her house to play with toys, and even though she didn’t have them, I couldn’t just say “no”. I knew how to build that infrastructure and Vivienne she was full of energy. In the end, in fashion and in any other industry you have to stay who you are.


- Carlo, you have been in fashion for more than 20 years. What are 3 main lessons you have learned?

- First of all, as I said before, you have to stay true to yourself and be the same person in life and at work. Secondly, in fashion you must learn to value women. It is very important to see the their light and beauty. Woman is a creature that takes 50% and gives back 300%. It is the energy, and women have enormous energy. Some designers don’t like women, unfortunately, sometimes they are in competition with them, sometimes it is just like that. That is why the fashion industry became so uncurvy. But we have to value and respect them, and we will then be rewarded with their fantastic energy. Thirdly, fashion is very tough business. It is like russian roulette. If you produce 10 million T-shirts you must sell them within one season. If that doesn’t happen, you lose money, you can’t sell the collection next season. In the stock exchange, you buy stocks, you sell stocks, there is always a high liquidity of money. I work a lot, it is never a weekend.


- Yeah, London is in lockdown, and you are alone in the whole office.

- Giorgio Armani taught me once: “The more you are creative, the more structure you are required to build.” Structure - is the key to success. You need to build a solid base and be very fast in your actions.


- We spoke a lot about structure, trust and working with people. The world is changing, Covid-19 pushed us to work in isolation and provoked a big swift to digital fashion...

- I love it! You must be a friend of technology, don’t let them use you, but use them as much as you can. Technology allows you to optimise your processes. We shall develop, but not lose the personal connection, leaving the customer the opportunity to decide.


- Have you heard about digital models?

- Thank God it is happening! The time of top-models and big photographers is over. “The girl from the next door”, as I told you. Look at Hollywood, last century it was so glossy and prestigious, now you go there in sneakers and a T-shirt. The only thing important to have is bricks, your own place.


- This pandemic shaked the industry a lot...What is going to be after it is all over?

- It is going to be much better. Unfortunately, a lot of people died and lost their beloved ones, but after it is over,the industries will be much better.


- A renewal?

- Of course. I see a lot of people out there, a lot of creativity, a lot of possibilities. The time of big models, brands and photographers has passed. A new energy of growth is evolving.


- We are on the same page with you, Carlo and we believe that it’s a time of rebirth. Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts with our readers.

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