Home > companies > news > It’s my dream to work with an Indian designer: Andrea Dini

Last week, Andrea Dini walked into the Paul & Shark store at DLF Emporio Mall, the capital’s luxury retail hub, in an effervescent mood. He greeted the team managing the store like an old friend. Dressed in a sharply tailored black blazer, blue chequered shirt and dark pants (all Paul & Shark of course), his style mixed old-school preppy with inherent Italian pizzazz. As the president and CEO of Dama Spa, and the owner of Paul & Shark, Dini, 51, represents the third generation at the helm of the company created by his grandfather Gian Ludovico. After World War II, Ludovico saved a former mill in Varese, Italy, that had produced high-quality knitwear from the 1920s. Between the 1950s and the 1960s, the company became a knitwear powerhouse that would go on to partner with Christian Dior and Balenciaga among other luxury brands for specific products. In 1976, Dini’s father Paolo Dini established Paul & Shark, named after an old 18th century clipper. The idea was to create a luxury sportswear range inspired by the spirit of yachting. Coinciding with the company’s 40th anniversary, Dini spoke about Project 40 that reinvents the label’s packaging design to include new suitcases with a sci-fi touch and a cylindrical can that becomes an LED lamp once empty. Edited excerpts:

How did the idea for Project 40 come about?

We wanted to create a special project celebrating the legacy of Paul & Shark. After intense brainstorming with Wallpaper* magazine, we decided to get three designers from diverse parts of the world to reinterpret the historical metal tube can and the suitcase packaging in which our products were sold. The first example of our water-repellent sailing sweater was sold in that metal tube and saw instant success. Chinese artist Zhang Zhoujie drew inspiration from silvery sea waves to create a contemporary, minimalist suitcase by rendering sheets of metal with a sci-fi touch and a digital mesh graphic. American designers Ladies & Gentleman focussed on the cylindrical can packaging that once empty, becomes an elegant LED lamp. Spaniard designer Tomás Alonso used recycled plastic waste to create a triangular packaging device. The idea was to reinvent the wheel and repackage the future to excite a newer clientele. The main criteria for selecting these designers were diversity, beauty of the finished product, quality and environmental friendliness of the materials used. We are eco-conscious—in fact, our company, Dama Spa, was certified as a “green company" in 2012.

Did sustainability define your Autumn/ Winter 2016-17 collection?

The collection had an eco-cashmere sweater and the eco-down jacket, an environmentally friendly alternative to real goose down that still guarantees the same quality and performance. It doesn’t end with just one collection. It’s a process. For instance, we use hybrid or electrically powered trucks to transport our raw materials. We procure nickel-free zippers that are tested—if they aren’t then they might react badly to salt if it is not treated well. We generate more than 15% energy through solar panels installed at our headquarters in Varese, Italy. Profit at the expense of the environment or the health of my workers is not something I will allow.

There are Paul & Shark stores in Delhi, Mumbai and Hyderabad. Do you see your brand collaborating with any Indian designers?

That’s not all. We are also exploring opening stores in Chennai and Kolkata. It would be my dream to collaborate with an Indian designer. We have always relied on an internal team of designers so what might be interesting is a mini-concentrated collection—I don’t like the word capsule— as a tribute to India. The designer needn’t be famous. But someone young, who is up and coming, active and super interested. Right now, it’s a pipe dream, but it’s something I would love to discuss with my key partners.

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