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Close-Up Preview: Q&A with Giulio Cinque, owner of designer indie Giulio

Drapers gives you an exclusive sneak-peak of our Close-Up interview with Giulio Cinque, owner of designer indie Giulio in Cambridge, ahead of the full interview in this weekend’s edition.

Did you always want to work in fashion? When I was 16 one had the choice to do an apprenticeship or further education. I chose further education because I wanted to be an architect, but when I found it took seven years I had to think twice. After that I took up an apprenticeship in carpentry and joinery, which only lasted six months, and during that time I took a Saturday job at a small menswear chain called Michael Barrie, and that’s where my interest started.

I was good at sales and was there for around six years, when aged 23 they asked me to be the store manager. But I was working as a waiter in the evenings as well, and the owner of the restaurant suggested opening our own shop on Kings Street, so I didn’t take the job and that’s where Giulio started from.

When you joined online indie portal Farfetch three years ago some of your luxury suppliers at the time – such as Prada – were against the idea, and as a result you have shifted your buying strategy towards brands that want to engage in the digital space. Why was this important to you? I was getting bored and I was starting to become predictable. And this is what luxury brands are – by their nature they are very rigid in their structure due to the corporate nature of such large companies. And I thought this isn’t me. That’s not my DNA. My DNA is independent. Mine has a lot more of a personal association, and it’s starting to separate from what’s happening in the luxury sector.

It gives you the opportunity to do what you should be doing, rather than thinking I’ve got Prada, I’ve got Dior, I’ve got Gucci, I can sit back, no problem. But actually that’s not the job of the independent and it never has been. There was a time when these brands were for me the right thing to do, and this is where my change in strategy comes into it. The danger that independent retailers sometimes suffer is that they just sit there and think they’ve got it without getting out there all the time to find new things, to introduce newness, and that’s our job. That’s the excitement for me and it allowed me to start to express myself again. I wanted to feel that energy that I’d felt previously with discovery. It was almost like starting my business again.

So which brands have you moved towards? Some of the brands that we were doing already, things like Vivienne Westwood were showing growth, interest, even on the internet. So that started me thinking some of these brands I should be looking at in more detail.

That led to looking to other brands, such as D-Squared, and the union of Dolce and Gabbana and D&G. I was asked to stock the Dolce and Gabbana range, and that for me was a great opportunity, because they wanted to be more selective about their distribution. It gave me the opportunity again to be a leader and a bit more exclusive.

D-Squared has been going around for a while, it’s not like it’s a new brand. But the brand has been developing. For autumn 14 there is a lot more tailoring. For me that fitted exactly with what I believe in. I think it’s fundamental to an independent business that you have a tailoring offer. I’m trying to promote the brand as more than it being just a jeans brand. That’s my commitment to it, that’s part of our partnership, what we’re trying to get that out there. And it doesn’t happen overnight.

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