Alberto Premi and Tom Lipop are On Next-------
“We have to think about the future, and we have to think about what’s now,” offered Pitti Immagine CEO Raffaello Napoleone, after announcing the winners of the Spring ’15 Who’s On Next prize yesterday afternoon. The victors—22-year-old Italian sneaker designer Alberto Premi for accessories, and 30-year-old British talent Tom Lipop for menswear—could not have been more different. Yet both of their divergent aesthetics spoke to contemporary tastes, as well as what’s to come. According to Napoleone, the designers were selected for their innovative techniques; unique brand identities; and embrace of Italian materials, artisanship, and production.
Lipop, whose catchphrase is “modern tradition—modernizing the traditional silhouette,” was recognized for his minimal, subtly embroidered suiting and separates (pictured, left), which place a focus on intricate cutting and are assembled in an origami-like fashion. “I’m hoping this will help people recognize us as an established brand,” he said of the win. But why would a British boy like Lipop align himself so closely with Italy, rather than the U.K.? “We’re trying to push into the luxury market, and as a new brand, it’s hard to do that if you’re made in the Middle East or the U.K. That ‘Made in Italy’ stigma is really good for us,” he said. “Made in Italy is obviously the top dog, and we’ve always wanted to do things properly.”
Premi (pictured, below), whose father also works in the Italian shoe industry, earned the accolade with electric-hued high-tops inspired by futurism and science fiction. “I want to grow into the international market,” said the young designer of his post-award goals. “I also want to develop womenswear.” The prize, which is awarded only to brands that produce in Italy, will no doubt help him take the next step. Both he and Lipop will receive 3,500 euros; the opportunity to present at a special event during the Fall ’15 Pitti fair in January; editorial mentions in L’Uomo Vogue; and support from Yoox.com and London’s Tomorrow Land showroom. “Of the biggest new names in menswear, 90 percent started directly from this platform,” said Napoleone. “Everyone from Andrea Incontri to Umit Benan began here. Even Brunello Cucinelli started at Pitti,” he added. As for the importance of supporting up-and-comers, Napoleone said, “It’s more important than ever before. You know, Armani was young a few years ago. And so were Dolce and Gabbana. The world is changing from what it used to be. We need the new.”