Stòffa Rethinks how we consume clothes

Stòffa’s name gives a pretty strong indication of his priorities. The New York label’s moniker can be translated as cloth or cloth in Italian, something that has been central to Stòffa since its inception in 2014. “That’s where the name came from and that’s how the whole thing was born,” explains co-founder Agyesh Madan, “out of respect for materials.”

Madan’s idea for the brand came from his experience in the fashion industry, specifically a previous role where he met fellow Stòffa founder Nicholas Ragosta. “The whole idea was to slow down the design process,” continues Madan. “We were coming from a place where we were making so many collections – about seven a year, a thousand pieces per collection – it was just like we had so much to give as a design team. How can we do something that’s a little more modern, a little more relevant to our generation’s lifestyle, but do it at a slower speed?”

“If you slow down how you buy and if you make everything a little more intentional, the connection is deeper”

To answer these questions, the duo founded Stòffa. The decision to slow down the design and production process also allowed the label to place materials at its core. Central to the business are its made-to-order and made-to-order categories, while garments are manufactured by specially selected partners with an emphasis on single-unit production.

“They’re all specialized and programmed to do one unit at a time, rather than typical assembly-line production,” Madan says of Stòffa’s production partners, some of whom the brand has invested in while also having an active role in others. “We wanted to be so involved in the day-to-day operation of how the product is made,” continues Madan. “It was a very organic process. The outerwear and pants came first and then came the shirts because we found a really good partner and we knew we could make something there.”

Since launching these initial categories – along with her more personalized items – Stòffa has branched out into more amazing ventures. Recent collections include deadstock vintage sunglasses or handmade Tuscan ceramics. “All these other elements are a way of appearing behind the scenes without actually appearing behind the scene,” says Madan. “A lot of our designs are not informed by looking at other clothes, they are informed by looking at the design or the ceramics. It is a way to promote these reports. We wanted to give people a taste of what informs our designs and it felt more natural to do this as a small release.”

Both the vintage sunglasses and the coffee cups are inspired by the founders’ passions – they both collect – and Madan hopes that giving a glimpse behind the design curtain will strengthen the brand’s relationship with its customers. “Expressing this design philosophy further brings people closer to the world that informs everything we do.”

People can further engage with this world at Stòffa’s New York showroom, by appointment only, an approach also shaped by past experience. “Nicolas and I have both done a lot of torso shows and we felt that the connection the customer ended up with their garment was much deeper,” explains Madan. “Part of responsible manufacturing – or just being aware of your consumption – is not just slowing down the design cycle but also slowing down the buying cycle. If you slow down how you buy, if you make everything a little more intentional, the connection is deeper. We hope that the likelihood of you throwing this garment away is much less.”

“If we can communicate an example of slow production and slow consumption, hopefully that can help create more versions of Stòffa”

Stòffa’s message of intentional consumption is central to her modus operandi, and her commitment to trunk shows aims to spread that message far beyond her New York showroom. This concept also works hand-in-hand with its made-to-order and made-to-order programs, which help further strengthen the bonds between consumer and apparel.

“We realized that while there were many options for someone to have a tailored suit, for the other categories that now make up more than three-quarters of a modern man’s wardrobe, they don’t have a choice,” says Madan. “We wanted to bring that to the rest of the categories and as we started doing it more, we fell more in love with it because we saw the reaction. We’ve seen our customers grow with us. we’ve seen our customers turn the majority of their wardrobes into this type of purposeful shopping. It has also affected how they make purchasing decisions for the rest of their lives: where they go to eat; the questions they ask about materiality when buying household goods or furniture. This is beautiful. That energy is what we want to surround ourselves with.”

As beautiful as this is, Madan is realistic. He knows this approach won’t necessarily work for every consumer, but that doesn’t mean it can’t have a wider impact. “If we can communicate an example of slow production and slow consumption, we hope that this can help create more versions of Stòffa – in womenswear, with a sporty aesthetic or a more classic aesthetic. I just hope it sets a better example for other people.” Madan works closely with younger designers to spread this message, helping them learn about one-unit production, how to work with workshops and how to create their one-to-one customer experience.

The brand’s take-down philosophy continues in the recently launched 05 collection, which includes ceramics, jewelry and vintage sunglasses alongside apparel. The collection includes jackets developed over three years, as well as a specially developed cotton canvas, Italian deadstock fabrics from the early 2000s and a recycled cotton made in Guadalajara using textiles intended for consumption. In addition, the basic Stòffa fabrics have been transformed into different silhouettes, showing how the brand is slowly perfecting its formula. “Collections, from one to the next, are never really a redesign of everything,” says Madan, “but an incremental evolution of where we’re going.”

The next stage in Stòffa’s gradual evolution was a trunk show in London, realizing a plan that almost materialized in March 2020, before world events intervened. This pop-up, which will take place until September 25, will allow Madan and the team to meet more customers, invite them for a coffee, show them the collection and create deep relationships between buyer, brand and garment.

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