image: Attico

image: Attico

The building of Attico, the Italian brand that has tasked itself with “reinventing the very idea of opulence,” started simply enough. Two friends, street style stars-cum-creative directors Gilda Ambrosio and Giorgia Tordini, inspired by vintage shops and flea markets, and with personal style to boot, set out to remedy what they deemed to be a lull in exciting new offerings. In true millennial fashion, they conceived of the idea in the back of taxi in September 2015 while zipping through New York City between fashion shows.

From there, “it happened fast,” the duo told ManRepeller, and they launched six months later.

Fast forward to Footwear News’ 2017 Achievement Awards. Among the evening’s honorees was this interesting new name: Attico. Italian for “penthouse,” you may not know the name of this budding young brand (yet), but chances are, you have seen its offerings. Launched less than two years ago, the Italian brand is almost certainly woven into your Instagram feed and into the fashion industry’s most highly-viewed street style photos. It is also on the shelves of the industry’s most esteemed department stores. No small feat for the early-stage brand. 

In taking home Footwear News’ “Launch of the Year” award, Attico, according to FN, has “wowed retailers and consumers alike” with its offerings, so much so that Net-a-Porter reached out to Ambrosio and Tordini even before they officially launched the collection. And that early partnership and support was integral in helping to cement the brand from the outset, as it “launched the brand into a high-end position,” Tordini told SCMP.

Not Just Shoes

But before footwear, New York-based Tordini, 30, and Milan-headquartered Ambrosio, 25 – who describe themselves as total opposites when it comes to their taste in fashion; Tordini is a classicist, while Ambrosio is more eclectic – tried their hands at ready-to-wear. Footwear would follow from there, a “totally spontaneous” effort, they told FN, which is oh-so-fitting given the label’s self-declared aim to “make ‘thrown together’ appear dressed up.”

Yes, shoes came after Attico’s ready-to-wear debut was something of a smashing success. Described as a collection born from “a seductively immersive retro-fantasy world,” as “luxe maximalist retromania clothes,” as “intoxicating,” and as a grouping of “platonically ideal vintage-inspired dresses,” (and that is just one of the glowing reviews under the brand’s belt), Attico, in its short time on the map, has racked up some of the most coveted stockists, including Net-a-Porter, Bergdorf Goodman, The Webster, Kirna Zabête, Matchesfashion, Joyce, and Moda Operandi, among others.

And it is play out just swimmingly., for one, “witnessed so much interest in the young brand, which has evolved into a full collection of vintage-inspired pieces and includes everything from shoes and evening clutches to tailored suits, that it [recently] invited the duo to create a capsule collection,” per Vogue.

The brand’s ‘Made in Italy’ boudoir-inspired robe frocks and slinky slip dresses – inherently appealing and very photo-friendly – certainly helped propel the brand off the ground. So, too, did the founders’ combined Instagram followings and the fashion press’ obsession with them and their sartorial choices. But before you write off these multi-hyphenate young women as “mere influencers,” it is worth noting that Tordini and Ambrosio have the formal training and experience to back them up. They both studied fashion design during their undergraduate education and went on to consult for an array of brands before launching Attico.  

 image: the_attico Instagram

image: the_attico Instagram

Despite fashion’s recurring backlash against the merit of “influencers,” it is very difficult to fault Ambrosio and Tordini for using their established social media followings to communicate their efforts (this is, after all, a near-universal practice for every consumer-facing brand). It also seems inaccurate to pin their success exclusively to social media. “Of course we’re not blind to the fact that our followings probably helped us get Attico off the ground,” they told Vogue’s Nicole Phelps recently. “We became known for our personal style, sure, but we’ve both always been serious designers first.”

To be clear: There is quite a bit more going on here to simply boil it down to two influencers slapping their names on a handful of products. 

A Dynamic Design Duo

The fashion press is nothing if not taken with this Italian duo and the ease with which they command their wardrobes; the truly expansive trove of photos spotlighting their wardrobe since early 2014 is a testament to this. This is a double-edged sword, though, as industry insiders have traditionally tended to come down hard on, i.e., rather skeptical of, well-known figures who set out to conquer the fashion market. Just ask The Row’s founders Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, who, for years, hid behind their non-descript brand name and showrooms to prove themselves as worthy of the fashion industry’s time.

Or consider Victoria Beckham, who says, in hindsight, “I was probably quite naive going into the fashion industry. I wasn’t as scared as I would be if I went in knowing what I know now.”

With this in mind, it is both interesting – and quite telling – that Attico is being hailed as one of the most exiting labels to come out of Milan in years. As SCMP’s Vincent Chan wrote in October, “Fashion people, especially jaded editors, love to hate Milan. Too commercial, goes the refrain. Not enough young designers at the expense of corporate giants. Too many accessories and few exciting shows.”

Chan continued, “Gucci may be getting the headlines but it is actually a series of small home-grown labels – including Attico – that are injecting a much-needed dose of excitement into Milan’s fashion scene.”

* BLUEPRINT is a new series that will examine how brands, and in some cases burgeoning conglomerates, are built.