Andrea Incontri has a mantra when it comes to design: keep clothes functional. It's visible in the uncluttered lines of the T-shirts he creates as well as in the meticulous tailoring techniques he employs in constructing skirts, knitwear, trousers and other apparel items and accessories.
It's been 10 months since Incontri, who's worked with several leading fashion houses like Missoni, Max Mara, Jil Sander and Tod's, joined as the creative director of Italy-based fashion brand United Colors of Benetton. His menswear, womenswear and kidswear bring together elements of fun, minimalism and structure.
“I love structure,” says Milan-based Incontri, who has a degree in architecture from the Milan Polytechnic. “My design values are based on form and surfaces.”
In an interview with Lounge, Incontri, who was recently in Delhi, talks about his approach to design, finding inspiration and more. Edited excerpts:
How have the past 10 months been?
I'm going step by step, because the company is very big. I have worked with luxury brands in the past, so this is a bit different. This is an iconic brand associated with so many iconic designs, so there's more responsibility. But my approach to design is the same... I'm trying to use the same vocabulary of Benetton but expressing it in a more modern way.
Several designers look at the archival material for inspiration and present a new creation in a different way. What's your design strategy?
You have to take the risk but ensure that you are honouring the past. Like, I will take the iconic Polo T-shirt and make it a little boxy. So small changes here and there can make a lot of difference. I'm a dreamer but also need to take care of (financial) numbers. The customer comes to an iconic brand like Benetton expecting something specific. You have to give them that while offering something different.
Recent fashion shows have showcased a strong inclination towards streetwear. Is this is passing trend or something that's going to be around for a while?
I don't look at runways or within the industry… I look outside and there's definitely a demand for streetstyle. At Benetton, the focus has been more on sporty wear. I want to bring in the aspect of more casual, more easy to wear, as well… athleisure but elevated. I want to make super elegant casual wear.
How would you experiment with the (black) Polo T-shirt that you are wearing right now?
May be make it all green and add colourful buttons… maybe an embroidered flower at the bottom. It would be a genderless piece of garment.
What your design strategy?
Like I said earlier, I come from a background in architectural design, so I believe a lot in democratic design. You need to take care of the fact how the wearer will feel in the clothes they are wearing. One has to be mindful of the construction of the garment. After all, our clothes are our house we live in. It's something we carry with ourselves wherever we go.