bal harbour blog

Brioni's Sartorial Universe

Brioni's creative director Brendan Mullane.

Brendan Mullane, Brioni’s creative director, along with its CEO of North America, Todd Barrato, were in town to celebrate the opening of the latest Brioni store in the US. To mark the occasion, Brioni collaborated with Miami artist Alex Mijares and Details magazine to create limited edition pieces available at Bal Harbour Shops—which have already sold out—as well as a mural in Wynwood. Here, we caught up with Mullane to discuss Brioni’s sartorial universe and connecting an historical brand with a contemporary audience.

You’ve designed menswear for several different houses, including Givenchy and Hermes. What’s the greatest difference in working with an Italian brand?
They’re very passionate. All of our discussions are quite heated and energized. The development of ideas is also quite natural and organic. Here, nobody says no. It’s all about “let’s try”. It’s a masculine sense of “let’s try it,” like there’s a certain level of confidence and 99 percent of the time we arrive at what we tried to do.

It’s also interesting that a company with such a rich heritage and historical place is so willing to change. With Brioni, there’s kind of pride that drives the passion for innovation, but also maintains its place historically. There are very few brands that exist now with this kind of history.

What is the production and manufacturing like at Brioni?
We own nearly all of our own factories and manufacturing, it’s about 95 percent owned by Brioni—which is unheard of. It’s hard to describe, but the factory is like one big tailoring shop. They have a system of production of handmade clothing that is amazing. It’s floor upon floor of artisanos, one for knitting, one for leather, etc.

What are some of the changes you’re seeing in menswear overall?
Men are becoming more adventurous for sure. The “look good, feel good” factor has finally arrived to the masculine world. Now we’ve also seen a lot of the other menswear brands entering Brioni territory—the made to measure, the sartorial suiting. Now we have to ask ourselves “What’s next?” because that’s what Brioni was built on. That’s our natural DNA. But we can’t just sit back and enjoy the ride. We have to step up the game.

And in what ways are you doing that?
We’re developing Brioni into a global brand, beyond suiting. We’ve started to develop the accessories, first with the handmade shoes, the bags. We’re opening the floodgates of what is the Brioni world. Right now it’s about recognizing what we know how to do and turning that know-how into other projects. We’re venturing into the lifestyle side of it, but keeping everything infused with the Brioni DNA.

You’re the brand's first creative director. What changes come along with that?
Really Brioni had their sartorial world and it was established and that was the focus. There were different people working on products and they had consultants come in and art directors advising. Now, Brioni wants to go back to the way the brand existed in the 1950s. It was an established brand that was the epitome of Roman masculinity. It pushed boundaries, but then became a bit quiet over the years. We want to return to that heyday. Also, I think taking me on as creative director gives the brand a face, making it more identifiable for the audience. I really love what we're doing. There’s a clear vision and we can move forward very fast.

Who are the iconic men of Brioni?
All the Italian cinema stars of the 50s. We have a great archive inside that’s protected by the Italian government that I really enjoy visiting. Everyone wore Brioni and now, I'm trying to reposition that into a contemporary market. Trying to find the next iconic Brioni man, I hope it’s an artist, a curator, photographer, high powered banker. It’s a lot of different types of people, but they have a cultured understanding that unites them.

Brioni isn't an in your face brand. It’s almost like being in a secret members club. If you know our garments, you come to appreciate that the inside is as beautiful as the outside. We believe if you spoil the wearer, we know they will feel great. In a time and place where everything is accessible, you have to work hard to please them.

Is that secret member's club growing?
In a climate like this one, people want to feel more special. And we deliver that through craftsmanship. When there’s a crisis, people turn to those things that make them feel safe, and historically luxury brands make you feel safe. You know what you’re getting.

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