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In an interview featured in Outdoor Magazine Italy, outdoor clothing designer Davide Tognetti talks with Tatiana Bertera about the genesis of the creative process and his preference for using Polartec fabrics. This article appeared in Outside Magazine Italy.
Born in 1970 in Modena, Davide Tognetti is the creative director of the agency he founded in 2003 and which bears his name. With long beard and tattoos on his arms and red scarf around his neck, Tognetti is undoubtedly a highly creative personality. And why not, even charismatic. He speaks with conviction about his profession, as if it were a faith, and doesn’t hide a certain healthy pride when he mentions his most prestigious clients. The North Face, Odlo and Woolrich among those he remembers most fondly. But also many other brands that wanted his creative approach for their collections. Diadora, Levi’s, adidas, Arena just to name a few. He works in the field of technical sportswear and therefore on the functionality of the garments he designs. Because while in the fashion world the concept of functionality is (or can be) more of an “accessory”, when you work with sportswear and design clothes that will have to be worn by a moving body, functionality becomes a fundamental aspect of your creative work.
When did your collaboration with Polartec begin?
Let’s go back to the beginning, from when I got to know the brand. My story began in retail 30 years ago in a sporting goods shop. I was selling Polartec fabric based clothes, and I was also wearing them during my personal sports activities.
What does it mean to create for the sports world?
It means working with and for the human body, taking into account the environment around it. I always like to remind myself and those who work with me that there are no bad weather conditions, just bad clothes. My job is to apply technical solutions that improve the performance of the garment, and therefore more or less directly the life of those who wear it.
You work with some of the top brands in the industry. What does that mean?
I am fortunate to work with top brands, with authentic brands, which have a history in the world of sports, a strong reputation and credibility that is conveyed both through the product and through communications. Working with these businesses means that the creative process must take into account values like authenticity, credibility and consistency. They’re brands that invest a lot in research and development and make promises to the market. Polartec is the ingredient brand that I always work with when I have to create a top-of-the-range product because it allows me to keep these promises.
Because the quality is very high, because the company is serious, committed and open to my requests, and finally because with its three layers it’s the most complete ingredient brand company I know. With a product that ranges from the layer in direct contact with the skin to the outer layer that protects against the weather.
So how does your job work? Who sends you requests?
My clients are brands. A brand calls me because it has to develop a new collection, sometimes a capsule collection. Based on the brand, its values, core business, brand history and requests, I propose a creative concept that’s usually divided into three segments: good, better and best. Polartec is the brand ingredient I propose for the highest segment.
One of the biggest trends today is sustainability. Do you plan to incorporate this increasingly important aspect in your work?
With Polartec for sure. I also think – and this is my philosophy – that making quality garments today also means producing with a sustainable perspective. And this is because a high quality garment is a garment that lasts for a long time and continues to perform despite the passing years.
Fabrics, cuts, shapes and lines are just some of the aspects of the creative concept...
Exactly. Outdoor apparel has changed enormously in the last 15-20 years and I’ve been able to witness the change for myself. Once upon a time mountain apparel and equipment – but especially the clothing – were not so important. Now they’re critical. The fabric and the layers, the elasticity and the lines and cuts of the garments. Lines that must follow the shape of the body and facilitate movement. All in harmony with fabrics that breathe in the right places. It means finding the right intersection between all these aspects and, last but not least, reconciling everything with style.
What direction are we going in?
Always lighter and faster – fast&light – even if in mountaineering there are important considerations; for example, up to 4,000 metres you can use certain materials and certain layers, then others as you go higher. In the near future the game will be dictated by ongoing climate change.
Anyone that influenced you?
Valentino Rossi. I worked with the champion on a line of clothing that met all his training needs. Maybe not everyone knows this, but a MotoGP rider has to train hard to get good results. Which doesn’t mean just riding a motorcycle. Motorcycle, gym, bike and even motocross. The line created for Valentino was made of fabric and Polartec technologies, able to guarantee maximum performance even when training.
How can you tell if what you’re creating is also functional?
That’s a good question. I work closely with athletes who are able to give us ideas and suggestions. Who better than them can assess the fit of a garment?
Urban outdoor: bring the mountain to the city. What’s your opinion?
I’ve been working on this concept for more than 10 years. There are two challenges: finding the right balance between style and performance and not losing credibility. So it’s about finding the common thread between fashion, performance and credibility.