Interview with Marcelo Giacobbe
MARCELO, HOW DID YOU KNOW YOU WERE READY TO LAUNCH GIACOBBE IN 2012?
“I spent some time in Europe in 2011, and it was during that time, and being away from Buenos Aires, when I began to think about starting my own label and rethink my possibilities. In that moment, I felt very empowered. I started doing what I felt was right, and not being scared of the outcome. On a personal level I was looking for a challenge. The good thing about being a designer is that our work is to experiment. You are always going through a process and never settled on doing things a certain way.”
TELL ME ABOUT GROWING UP IN BUENOS AIRES.
“I grew up on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, which allowed me to see the city from different perspectives. I was always intrigued by the city’s architecture. Buenos Aires is such an eclectic city where different influences coexist; Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Brutalism, Art Noveau and Art Deco.”
WHO WERE YOUR FIRST FASHION INFLUENCES?
“I always felt attracted to fashion, but architecture was what truly interested me most in the beginning. My dad used to remodel houses, and I would often go along on the weekends to help. I paid attention to how the buildings were made. I enjoyed the construction and deconstruction of materials, tearing down wallpaper or tearing up a rug from the floor. My mom knitted sweaters for my brother, my sister and I. Both of my parents taught (my siblings and I) the value of creating something with our hands, not only to wear, but also to live in. As a kid, I was also interested in film. The set design, how the characters looked, what they wore, and how they wore it. The detail in their look; who created it, and from where it came. I couldn’t watch a movie without dissecting the characters and their costumes. One day I realized fashion design allowed me to combine my interest in aesthetics and my desire to create using my hands.”
TELL ME ABOUT STUDYING, BOTH IN BUENOS AIRES AND COPENHAGEN.
“As a student I took part in all the local fashion shows and contests in Buenos Aires, which is how I won a scholarship to study at the Saga Design Fur Center in Copenhagen. It was the first time I traveled for work and also my first time in Denmark.
It was an eye opening experience for me as a young student, to be part of meetings with European designers working for brands like Gucci, Saint Laurent and Missoni. It was one of those experiences in life that shapes your views radically and positions you in the direction in which you’re meant to be going. School was a great experience for me, but at that point it was crucial that I work, because I wanted to experience first-hand the daily realities of being a designer.”
WHO HAVE YOU LEARNED THE MOST FROM IN YOUR CAREER THUS FAR? DO YOU HAVE MENTORS?
“I had great teachers in school; they were my first mentors. Now my friends fill much of that role. They are always around not only to inspire me but also to help me grow my business. They remind me that it takes time to build a career, to be persistent and to also be open to seeing your work from a non-personal perspective which is hard to do, because designing is very personal.”
TELL ME A BIT ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH THE INTERNATIONAL FASHION PRESS.
“Since launching my first collection, the press has been very supportive. My designs were first published in Harpers Bazaar Latin America. Soon after, Harper’s Bazaar Argentina put one of my laser-cut leather dresses on the cover. Since then the press has continued to cover my collections positively and consistently, which still excites and humbles me every time.
The first time I was featured in an American publication was this past summer when Brides Magazine featured Olivia Palermo wearing a jacket from my Spring Summer 14 collection on the cover of their June/July 2014 issue. Seeing it on newsstands while in NYC this summer was truly one of the most thrilling moments of my career thus far.”
YOU SHOWED SS15 IN NEW YORK IN YOUR FIRST SOLO PRESENTATION IN THE CITY. WHAT WERE SOME OF THE CHALLENGES, AND VICTORIES IN THAT EXPERIENCE?
“We held a presentation for the Spring Summer 15 collection at the Argentine Consulate in New York, which was 10 days after my Buenos Aires Fashion Week runway show, where I previewed the SS15 collection. The logistics around the presentation were challenging, but expected. We worked on the room for days, styling and choosing the right models. The main challenge was trying to translate the feeling of a runway show to a presentation.
There were many victories that day too. I have a fantastic team in NY and this was our first time together executing a presentation. Overcoming challenges together taught us who we are as a team and helped us to rediscover what we do. The team was wonderful and the feedback from press was great.”
TELL ME ABOUT SALES, AND YOUR CUSTOM BUSINESS.
“Much of my business in Argentina is custom bridal and other custom designs, which I find very appealing. You are doing a one of a kind piece for a special moment in someone's life. It is a long process and very creative. I sketch, we do between 4 to 5 fittings, and I am able to design with unique textures.
Once we finish the dress, some brides get nervous and ask what if they rip it or spill on it at the wedding. I always tell them the dress is intended to make memories in, forget about the dress and dance! It is their time to be happy which makes me happy.”
WHAT'S THE MOST REWARDING PART OF YOUR BUSINESS?
“Creating a collection from start to finish is a long process. First you board, then sketch, then you create patterns. Then you cut, fit and then finally you make corrections. As a designer, you are in a controlled environment, and creating in a two dimensional space. Then there is a moment when everything comes to life. The best part is seeing someone live in your pieces, a bride, a woman, a girl, or a mother. They choose a garment and it becomes a part of their story.”
WHAT ARE SOME CHALLENGES YOU FACE IN YOUR BUSINESS?
“New challenges surface everyday. Right now my team and I are focused on introducing GIACOBBE to the American market, which has been a surreal experience. Markets can be very specific in terms of what the customer wants. You have to pay attention to the market as a whole rather than to one specific person.
I’m a strategic person and the short and long-term goals I set for myself are deliberate and personal. Showing my collection in New York for the first time was a surprise, the second time it was a decision. Fashion is not only about the runway show or the press it generates but is also about building an enduring relationship with your costumers.”
WHAT MOTIVATES YOU AS A DESIGNER?
“Every season I get to create something new, tell a different story, write a new song. That’s how I want to live my life. Being a designer allows me to do that.”