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Etro is an Italian luxury fashion house that produces ready-to-wear, shoes, jewelry, accessories, leather goods, textiles, home decor and perfumes. The company was founded in 1968 by Gimmo Etro, and it remains a family business to this day.
The entrepreneurial venture began in 1968, when Gerolamo "Gimmo" Etro, a world traveller educated in Economics, establishes his own Prêt-à-Porter and haute couture textile company. He launched a range of fabrics using refined, natural fibres, which he embellished with vibrant colourways.
The Milanese Etro Headquarters, located on Via Spartaco, were completely renovated in 1977 in order to provide a larger space for the growing design team. The family start to collect rare books and textile art to archive in their in-house library, as the foundation of design research for future collections. Jacopo Etro later commented on this period, stating that he had started to visit the archive when he was a child, spending many hours copying the fabric designs and experimenting with his own creative style.
The Fragrances collection was launched in 1989, making its debut in the Milanese Fragrances flagship boutique, located on Via Verri. The brand has since created over 25 different scents, the most recent additions being Rajasthan and Jacquard.
Etro announced that they had relaunched the corporate website at the beginning of 2013 with an integrated E-commerce, which Veronica Etro explained allows the brand to "interact with customers like never before, which is very exciting".
The Etro family began using textiles and fashion as a mode of art rather than a mode of expression. Etro is identified primarily with Gimmo (born Gerolamo), the founder, but today the company is managed by his four children: Jacopo manages textiles, leather goods and the home collections, Kean is responsible the menswear collections, Ippolito is the CEO and Veronica is responsible for the women’s collections.
Kean Etro is the creative director of the Etro Man collections. In his early years, he studied at Aiglon College, at Cambridge university, and Medieval history in Milan. His collections have often been inspired by his many travels around the world, through encounters with distant cultures, the collection of artistic manufacts and ancient books. Kean once described the house’s approach to design as “poetic, not aggressive”. He joined the family business in 1986 as an intern, taking care of the digital side. In 1990 he designed his first menswear collection, and in 1996 the first fashion show, theorizing the concept of "New Tradition".
Veronica Etro is the creative director of the Etro Woman collections. Born in Milan, she attended the Deutsche Schule before graduating from Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London. She subsequently reflected on her first collection for Etro being a worrying experience, with an overwhelming sense of responsibility for a large group of people and the external perceptions of the brand. She unveiled her first womenswear collection in 2000. Her passions include travel, from which she never ceases to draw inspiration from photography and modern art.
Jacopo Etro has been working for the family business since 1982 and is now the Creative Director of the Etro Accessories, Leather, Home and Textile collections, as well as Head of Communication. In 2010, he was also invited to sit on the board of the Camera Nazionale Della Moda Italiana (Italian Fashion Council) as the delegate for the Italian textile industry. Jacopo has a passion for contemporary art, including Sculpture and Photography, but his true love is ancient textiles; a collection he has built up over many years and that is essentially the fruit of his travels, mainly in Asia, India and China.
Ippolito Etro joined the company in 1991, overseeing the Administration Department before his promotion to General Director: a role that he upheld until the start of 2014. With little inclination for a life in the public eye, he rarely appears in the press despite the key role he played in the company. He was famously quoted for commenting that, "My father always told us that we could do what we wanted in life. But he said, 'If you work here, you have to start from scratch'".
The Paisley pattern is a constant point of inspiration for Etro. The pattern is an ancient decorative feature originally from Persia where it symbolized the shoot of the date palm which represented the tree of life. The pattern was much used on precious hand-woven Indian fabrics until it later was adopted for the use on shawls of nineteenth-century women.
Etro has a collection of one hundred and fifty cashmere design shawls dating from 1810 to 1880. The collection lead to the inspiration of the Paisley pattern, commonly used in the Etro collections from 1984 to present day.
Etro continues technological exploration and experimentation with the pattern; the Cashmere wool design is illuminated with pop hues, fossilised in lunar prints, pulverised in embroidery with crystal fragments, sectioned into small samples and coated across handbags. Each season the pattern continues to be used in the Etro designs. The brand often collaborates with emerging artists to reinterpret the traditional Paisley print within the ready-to-wear and accessories collections, as well as establishing bespoke creative partnerships around the world. Etro has collaborated with a number of artists over the years, such as Mika Ninagawa, Erik Madigan Heck and Thukral & Tagra.
The menswear collection has been presented through a number of conceptual catwalk shows over the years. The Autumn Winter 03 collection took a vintage twist, inviting guests to take a ride on a 1937 steam train through urban Milan whilst "real-life" models walked through the cabins.
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