There must be something in the water. Or maybe they’re slipping it into the Negronis. Either way, some of the most revered brands in Italy have caught the collaboration bug in a big way, and even when—actually, especially when—the brands they choose to team up with seem a little out of left field at first, the results have been impressive. The latest entry in the canon comes of Canali, the tailored-clothing powerhouse that’s been crafting exceptional suiting since 1934, and up-and-coming Chinese designer Li Gong’s label 8on8.
The capsule collection, inspired by Marco Polo’s journey from Venice to Shangdu during the Yuan Dynasty, is a mashup of Canali’s tailoring expertise with 8on8’s youthful, contemporary perspective. Put in more concrete terms, that translates to pieces like an oversized (but still impeccably proportioned) double-breasted blazer paired with a piped silk shirt. Or a sweater featuring a newly reimagined version of Canali’s Cafra Cat character worn with the kin of loose, louche trousers that feel exactly on-point for this moment in menswear. Think of it as the collaboration we didn’t know we needed—until the folks behind it were kind enough to give it to us anyway.
We caught up with those folks—Canali CEO and President Stefano Canali, and 8on8’s Li Gong—to talk about how it came together, the future of tailored clothing, and how fashion can serve as a bridge between cultures.
To start, how did this collaboration come together?
Stefano Canali: Li Gong was chosen for this collaboration because we felt it was original and relevant at the same time. We considered that key elements in his designs for 8on8 would bring a contemporary update and new perspective to Canali, while staying true to our DNA. As we worked through many Zoom meetings to design the collection, it became evident that we had chosen the right partner. Li Gong explored our world and brought new life to archival Canali designs with his creative artwork interpretations and contemporary silhouettes.
Li Gong: I first became familiar with Canali when I was studying menswear fashion. The house’s rich history and passion for innovation and culture has always stuck with me, which is why I was thrilled to be approached by Canali for the collaboration. Having always associated Canali with tailor-made Italian luxury, I welcomed the opportunity to blend my perspective with the house’s classic aesthetic to create a refined mix of both brands.
How did you land on the inspiration of Marco Polo and his travels?
LG: As I began to work on the Canali Travels with 8on8 capsule collection, my fascination with Marco Polo’s journey from Italy all the way to Shangdu in China continued to develop. I was inspired by the connection between the path Marco Polo travelled, the historical motifs from Canali’s archives and the signature elements of 8on8. This resulted in the incorporation of the Cafra Cat, a design used by Canali in the ’50s, and other shapes such as shooting stars. The references to Marco Polo are also seen in the earth tone color palette and use of materials including silk and wool.
How important does collaboration feel to Canali now, and moving into the future?
SC: This collection is our first capsule, which makes it so special. Our brand has always celebrated innovation and culture and it is important that we are able to continue and further build on this path by expanding our horizons. As we look ahead to the future, our hope is that we will continue to explore partnerships with new brands and artists while staying rooted to our core values: quality, craftsmanship, and excellence.
Li Gong, you mentioned interpreting fine tailoring from a contemporary perspective in the press release. What does that mean to you, exactly?
LG: For me, this means that the collection offers Canali customers an opportunity to wear pieces that embrace their modern lifestyles without compromising the fit and integrity behind the brand’ signature tailoring. We achieved this by changing small details such as the shape of the lapels or width of a trouser leg.
What do you see as the role of tailored clothing in 2021 and beyond?
SC: For over 85 years, Canali has stayed at the forefront of the sartorial menswear world, and we believe that tailoring will continue to have a presence in menswear for years to come. However, we are driven by innovation and look forward to continually exploring ways in which our heritage designs and sartorial suits can meet the needs of the modern customer.
How do you think fashion can function as a bridge between cultures?
LG: Fashion offers a limitless opportunity to celebrate cultures, whether it be using certain fabrics, fits, or design elements that bring attention to a culture’s rich history. For me, this is showcased in the baseball cap beaded detail, inspired by a Yuan Dynasty official’s hat, and the drawstring bag which was inspired by an ancient monetary pouch.
SC: There are many ways to interpret fashion’s function in crossing over cultural barriers. We hope we can continue to lend our expertise in craftsmanship and quality to emerging designers around the globe to create beautifully constructed garments. But we also hope to learn from our partners, from their culture, expertise, and their way of seeing the world.
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Source : Esquire