At family-run Italian label Pinko, Caterina Negra designs for a modern, bold woman
Caterina negra portrait new
Womenswear brand Pinko was founded in Italy in the late 1980s by Pietro Negra and his wife Cristina Rubini, with the aim of creating a brand for daring, independent women. Today, it still has its headquarters in the north Italian town of Fidenza, in a state-of-the-art 160,000 sq ft facility. It is stocked in more than 1,500 locations, including Farfetch and Harrods in the UK, and has 250 own stores worldwide.
It declines to reveal wholesale prices, but retail prices range from £75 for a top to £735 for a long coat.
The brand’s style direction is presided over by Caterina Negra, daughter of the founders, who took over the role of creative director in 2011. She talks to Drapers about working with family and promoting the brand’s sustainability agenda.
How did you come to work at Pinko? I started working in Pinko at the marketing office, where I learned to understand our consumers. After two years I moved to merchandising and then to the style office. There I trained in the field of design, with an experienced team that has worked with Pinko over the years, developing various capsule collections. [Designers] Mark Fast, Alessandro dell’Acqua and Alessandra Facchinetti and [journalist] Anna dello Russo have all worked with the brand.
How would you describe the style of the brand? Pinko’s style reflects contemporary women: committed, informed, curious and independent. Conscious and free from stereotypes. This woman is not afraid to show strength and sensitivity, but also intelligence, irony and sensuality.
An iconic piece for us is definitely the little black dress, interpreted in lace with a sporty band on the side. Hyper-feminine, but with a contemporary and urban twist.
The brand was founded by your parents – how do you find working with your family? I love working with my family. They passed the values of craftsmanship and quality on to me. I believe that one of the strengths of the brand is precisely the fact of being family oriented. I think of Pinko as a second sister: family is the strongest team you can have in life.
How was it growing up with the brand? I’ve practically grown up in the company and always spent a lot of time in the style office. I liked to draw and play with fabrics, boxes and colours.
How has the brand changed since you joined the business? We are very focused on changes, especially socio-cultural ones. As a company we have evolved deeply in recent years: starting a series of initiatives in sustainability, characterised by more respectful choices towards the environment. Not only are we reducing our impact from the point of view of energy consumption, we are also trying to promote initiatives that sensitise the public and our customers to the issues.
This is the case with the “Pinko Forest”, a collaboration with [tree-planting organisation] Treedom that we launched at the beginning of the year. It is a reforestation project with a strong social impact. We have created a collection of five organic cotton T-shirts and, for each piece sold, a fruit tree is planted in Kenya. Once grown, they will support the economy and food needs of the local population.
What’s the best part of your job? Being able to draw and tell new stories, every season. For me, the collections are like real stories that are born after very thorough research. Working with my team to develop them is a very engaging, creative experience.
Where do you find your inspiration for design? I look for inspiration by travelling, listening to music and working with colours. These are things that greatly stimulate my imagination and help me to build stories for new collections.
Do you have any personal favourite pieces from the autumn 18 collection? Among my favourite pieces are the coat dresses, closed at the front like a blazer and with a very structured line. But my absolute favourite is our double-breasted bordeaux pin-striped jacket. Sexy but at the same time male-inspired, very “Power Woman”.
Is there anyone in the industry you particularly admire? Stella McCartney, both as a designer and as a person. I greatly admire her for how she has always carried on her ideals through work.
She has contributed so much to raising people’s awareness of the environment and the exploitation of resources. She created a real new way of conceiving fashion that goes beyond trends.
What’s the best business advice you’ve ever received? Fashion is a game. The only rule is to have no rules.
Favourite clothing brand
Favourite places to shop
Last fashion purchase
Costa Rica, my second home
Last book you read
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari
Last film you watched
The Endless Summer
Babysitter while I was still at school
What would we find you doing at the weekend
Relaxing in nature and horse-riding