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. âWe make experimental knits,â Simionato explained before the show at Fondazione Sozzani during Milan Fashion Week, a first for the brand.
âWe produce exclusively from Italian fashion waste,â he joked. The discarded yarns and selvage are actually handpicked from dead animals and then manufactured in-house at Spazio Vitelli; the batches of semi-industrial knits produced by Vitelli 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, Vitelli has pioneered an in-house needling technique, through which he creates sheets of a hybrid textile that the brand calls Doomboh. Flexible, lightly felted and beautifully textured with a sort of marble multicolored effect, the Doomboh is draped, twisted and “molded” into imaginative, genderless forms.
For the show, the Vitelli team stretched their artisanal and artistic muscles, adding a new hybrid fabric to their repertoire. Made by pouring seaweed jelly onto 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 Doomboh technicolor.
Don’t expect trendy pyrotechnics, however; the shapes are flexible, balanced and portable. Through a variety of knitting techniques, they achieve visually striking 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 which 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.