What makes for a true artisan? In the beginning, one needs the perseverance to look beyond the surface to explore ways nobody has before. Secondly, knowledge is key, respecting traditional values while connecting them with contemporary narratives. The result is a profound connection between maker, product and wearer — a stealth-like bond rich in anticipation with a foundation that withstands the test of time, continuously re-assessing itself as part of a curated reflection on our day-to-day. This is a rare phenomenon, hence evermore unique when observed.
During a recent visit to Paris, the intimate gallery curated by Italian atelier 10SEI0OTTO, served as the ideal backdrop for a conversation on the validation of sincere craftsmanship in modernity. At the helm of this creative studio, Tiziano Rillo together with his partner-in-crime, Paolo Barelli, spoke in warm tones, uttering deliberate and well-formulated sentences. In our sincere dialogue we spoke about his upbringing, the birth of his son, his homeland of Italy and a new take on the ‘‘broken’’ fashion system. As you read on, you will surely agree that Rillo definitely knows what he is talking about.
Foundation. Tiziano, could you tell me about your upbringing, and how you first were curious as a creative?
I was born in Carpi, Modena a very important industrial development centre in the knitwear sector at that time. My parents worked in the textile industry, and I undertook my studies in this field as a textile expert. Ever since I was a child, I paid close attention to fashion. This I remember clearly, as I always had clear ideas and a precise taste even when I was only six going on seven [years old]. This also involved me imposing my will on my parents by telling them how I desired to dress and by being naughty if I did not like the clothes they chose for me. When they did buy clothes for me, I always went with them being very determined in choosing what I liked most.
Hands-on. What triggered your path as a designer? How were these beginnings?
In all the jobs that I have done before creating my collection, 10SEI0OTTO, I have had a creative vein. I think that creativity always has been a part of me, striving to bring new ideas to light. As a designer, I worked many years in the field of clothing accessories, where I mostly proposed new ideas about the presentation of clothes to my customers. Besides this, I dabbled in cutting, modifying and making clothes for myself. Then, the chance encounter with Paolo happened who became my partner in crime. He had a family-run business and was working in the field of leather and fur. He manufactured and made sample collections for different brands — especially for a very famous one — and shared its foundation of creating its first leather garments (nowadays these are famous all over the world). Leather garments have always been my passion. And by joining my ideas with Paolo’s knowledge and talent, we were able to create the first 10SEI0OTTO collection, which was in 2009.
Mature. Your collections have a very clear identity. Do you remember the first collection and what this symbolized to you?
Our first collection was almost a bet, but at the same time it was just a dream. It was my deepest wish and represented just what I had always dreamt of. Before that moment, I have never had the opportunity to realize this dream, so carrying out this plan was just like the birth of a child, of something that belongs to you.
If I speak of this, I can think of a most important moment in my life, which really fed the reasoning behind my dream. The brand would become a personal inscription to my eldest child Edoardo, who suffered a lot at his birth because of a delicate operation he underwent when he was only seven months old. Therefore, we decided to name our brand with his date of birth: June 10th, 2008. Fortunately today, my son is really fine, and thanks to that successful operation, he is in glowing health. But this definitely left a mark, which I wanted to honor by including it in the name of our work and atelier.
Craft. That is very moving. For me, it also ties in with the attention you pay to the garments — so much work has gone into each one. How do you see this?
As I mentioned, I was lucky enough to find a partner who is very good at experimenting and trying new things. Furthermore, he is strong at developing all the ideas I suggest to him. I am always able to convince him to try even if he does not always agree with me in the first place. Here, I am speaking of, for instance, the washing of the leather jackets, the hand conducted sponge dyes on the finished jacket, and also, the marble-effect spray dye. Another element would be the suture seam, one of our main features, which nowadays became highly exploited as we created this more than 20 years ago for an absolutely unknown brand at the time. And now let me have a dig: I would really like to tell everybody that our brand first made this unique technique so many years ago, when none one of those brands that now are exploiting it even existed. This is very important for me.
Construct. Another element is the construction. How do you observe traditional tailoring and its importance in contemporary society?
In the process, I certainly like everything that has to do with tailoring, even if I am not often able to apply it to our garments. Because of the knowledge, we can experience when we manufacture the pieces. However, I am not willing to compromise this because it is something really fundamental for 10SEI0OTTO. The quality and tradition in textiles and leather are essential requirements. I always look for ‘MADE IN ITALY’ in leather and textiles that are produced by craftsmen and traditional companies.
Bridge. What is important to you when communicating your work to your observers and customers?
This one, I would like to simply answer by saying that I would like every 10SEI0OTTO garment to be unique and exclusive, and also perfectly molded when wearing it. The pieces should simply serve as a second skin!
Italia, the place you call home. Which elements of it inspire you?
Italy is a wonderful country for its exclusive landscapes, its cultural and artistic patrimony and for the generosity of its people. All those elements inspire me while making my collections: its beauty, culture and hint of altruism. My aim is to create beautiful, educated and usable items of clothing, which are the synthesis of modernity, heritage, art and design — all the things that you can find while visiting our great country.
Atelier. Could you reveal a little more about your workspace?
Before talking about my workspace, I should really tidy it up. No, I am just kidding! My firm is a little artisan one. We do not have much room to move, and there is always confusion — leather, textiles, samples and so on can be found everywhere. Obviously, I am the only one who knows where things actually are! There is a wonderful sense of controlled chaos.
Contact. It is important for knowledgeable creators to engage with new generations. What would you advise or point out to new graduates and/or designers that wish to take part and present their own work?
It is not easy for new designers facing this world today to carve out a niche for themselves. Especially when I observe Italy, which is a place where if you are not a person of means and do not rest on a solid basis, it is difficult to find someone willing and disposed to help you financially. The only thing that I really want to say that it is important not to lose your heart and try to carry out your plans anyway. Be brave!
Modernity. When we look at Italy, it is a country so rich in history, but also struggling to connect its proud heritage with a strong contemporary view on design and fashion. How do you see this?
Well, I am very outspoken concerning this matter. If we look at the last 20-30 years, the Italian fashion system and the governments have made lots of mistakes. First of all, they allowed and entitled many companies to export manufacturers. This put the ‘MADE IN ITALY’ seal under pressure, which I think they should have protected at all cost and by any means. All of this has obviously damaged the fashion system. It is suffice to say that today many Italian brands have abandoned Milan to move to Paris, London and New York for fashion shows, presentations and sales campaigns. Furthermore, I think that the Italian fashion system and its organizations need a strong renewal and an important reconstruction starting from their initial foundation. Change is imperative!