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Kean Etro is preserving the legacy of the family business started by his father Gimmo in 1968. Born in Milan, the 57-year-old designer spoke to EDGAR about the “playful” men’s collection for FW21 that he describes as a “message of hope”Menswear creative director
Many creative directors are hired but you’re part of the family business. Do you think that affects your mindset when you work?
I was born and grew up in the Etro world and my father Gimmo Etro, founder of the brand, transmitted along to me, my brothers and sister his love for the company and values and stylistic codes.
Did he take you to work sometimes?
He used to bring us to the office when we were kids and I remember playing with the fabrics and having fun going around and playing soccer in the courtyard. I think we are so lucky to work together as a family, nurturing this love for Etro together and working to preserve and cultivate the stylistic values and codes of the brand while innovating.
What was on your mood board when designing the FW21 menswear collection?
There were bright vitaminic and neon colours, streetwear inspirations, upholstery patterns and fabrics from the Etro homeware collection.
And what’s the result, do you think?
I think the result is that playful and ironic meet the sumptuous in a mix of casual and elegant.
What is the message that you’re trying to transmit with this range?
The FW21 menswear collection wants to be a hymn to joy, a message of hope and faith with colour and energy that branches out like a sun. It is no coincidence that many looks of the show are of an intense yellow, like the sun that rises and radiates everywhere. The sun always shines after a storm.
Do you feel it’s important to bring some optimism through Etro menswear in these difficult times?
It is fundamental to bring some optimism through fashion. The purpose of fashion is to make you feel happier, through colours and creativity. The use of colour brings happiness, joy and laughter.
The collection features lots of mini bags – what was your thought process with those?
I wanted to mix utility and functional to a street cool aesthetic: small AirPod and card holders, purses that can be hung around the neck and cross body bags with multiple pockets on the straps to carry everyday essentials.
Can you highlight a key look from the FW21 range?
The robe-style floral print coat worn with the Earthbeat chunky sneakers and hoodie with the Pegasus logo.
What motifs or prints should we look out for in this range?
The signature Paisley pattern is seen throughout the collection and the Pegasus winged horse embellishes caps, bomber jackets and oversized hoodies. Wool maxi sweaters appear next to silk shirts and colourful printed denim pants.
How much did the travel restrictions in the last 12 months affect your creativity?
Not travelling and not meeting people made it harder to find new inspiration. However, while confined at home, we had a lot of time to study books and wardrobes, discovering old items that we forgot and mixing them with newer ones for new inspiration. The pandemic cancelled boundaries between daywear, eveningwear, homewear and formalwear.
What do you want men to feel when they wear Etro clothes?
I want men to feel whatever they want, to express their personality in a creative way. There are no rules and everyone must feel free to wear what they want, having fun with colour and prints and showing their curiosity.
Do you enjoy designing the set and choosing the location for runway shows?
I always enjoy working on fashion shows, thinking about the location, the invitation, the music, the set-up. It makes my creativity fly, coming up with unexpected ideas.
In the past I showed collections in unusual locations like a supermarket and the streets of Milan. I sometimes created special set-ups such as catwalks with slides, vegetable gardens and a lot more. For the FW21 collection we couldn’t organise a live show because of the pandemic so we tried to make something special. We chose an industrial location in Milan and played with colours and lights.
Last question... You studied medieval history at university in Milan. What book should we read to get to grips with that topic?
I fell in love with that period of history because it was the prelude to the Renaissance. Try The Autumn of the Middle Ages by Johan Huizinga and The Court Society by Norbert Elias.
END OF INTERVIEW