Introducing Vitelli, the sustainable-minded post-hippie Italian knitwear brand you should wear now
Nestled in a central district of Milan that has hosted refugees and migrants from Eritrea and North Africa since the mid-1970s, a former knitting workshop serves as Vitelli’s headquarters. Vitelli is a creative craft community led by Mauro Simionato, a creative director / cultural agitator with a hippie philosophy. Since its inception in 2017, Vitelli has embraced holistic and sustainable production practices, a progressive social mindset, and a distinctive aesthetic, rooted in the Italian Cosmic Youth club scene of the ’80s and tinged with post-hippie and post undertones. -punk. “We make experimental knits,” Simionato explained before the show at Fondazione Sozzani during Milan Fashion Week, a first for the brand.
“We produce exclusively from Italian fashion waste,” he joked. The discarded yarns and selvage are actually hand-picked from the dead animals and then made in-house at Spazio Vitelli; the batches of semi-industrial knits they produce are made in partnership with small family knitters from northern Italy, in order to minimize the carbon footprint while helping local supplier companies. Fiercely ingenious, the Vitellis have developed a special needling technique in-house, through which they create sheets of a hybrid textile they call Doomboh. Supple, lightly felt and beautifully textured with a sort of multicolored marbling effect, the Doomboh is draped, twisted and ‘molded’ into imaginative, genderless shapes.
For the show, the Vitellis stretched their artisanal and artistic muscles, adding a new hybrid fabric to their repertoire. Made by pouring seaweed jelly on randomly assembled threads, a process that sounds slightly pollockian, the organic textile looks more like a jellyfish, translucent and smooth. It has been cut into a simple square tank top worn with straight pants in Dumbooh technicolor.
Don’t expect trendy pyrotechnics, however; the shapes are flexible, balanced and portable. Through a variety of knitting techniques, they achieve visually impactful textures; their chromatic sense is also an asset. The Vitelli aesthetic is clearly influenced by a fascination with the overland route from Istanbul, Turkey, through Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal and India that was traveled by hippies until the end of the years. 70, but Simionato said the brand’s look is also influenced by the Italian sense of balanced elegance and an appreciation for the well done. “The masters that I admire are in fact Giorgio Armani, Missoni, Romeo Gigli.” Spiritual wanderers, they certainly weren’t.