The balance between craftsmanship, modern emphasis on detail and attention to sustainable production is certainly not a simple goal to achieve nowadays. However, fashion accessories and clothing by Stefano Cau follow this intricate path towards perfection, evolving with every step but always with a look towards the centenary teachings of our country in terms of tailoring. Cau, whom we met on the occasion of Pitti Uomo 2020, was offered the chance to join the family business, which till today, still deals in accessories, namely ties and foulards. As time went by his passion for this work grew and matured together with the time spent in the company, until he started his project in 2005, when he decided, after building a solid experience, to develop his own line, creating a product that represented him and that corresponded to what his taste is. Each piece designed by Stefano Cau shows sophisticated geometry and complicated simplicity, inspired by historical periods such as the 1920s and the 1950s, and is 100% made in Italy, crafted by people who are abundant in artisan experience, with precision and attention to detail: from the fabrics, weave and texture to the quality of workmanship. What are the secrets to creating a similar “collectible” product? Here’s what the designer revealed to us.
How did the desire to take the lead of a family brand come about, and with what aim?
The goal was to create a very specific identity, a niche where a tie had a different and higher value than the "medium" presence on the market. In the last fifteen years, for example, the production of ties in Como has dropped considerably due to the companies move to China. We wanted to create a strong quality and exclusive image, and this clearly bears fruit.
You take inspiration from past decades, and in particular from the 1920s and 1950s: can you tell us what influenced your creative vision for each of these periods?
The 1920s are linked to my great interest in Art Liberty and Déco, with beautiful square shapes or very fine and elegant details. An era also characterized by an important way of dressing, from workwear to "roaring" party clothing. From the 1950s, on the other hand, clean lines inspired me, given by the reduction of lapels and designs, an essential elegance. Both decades, in a different way, are united by the desire for refinement in dressing, a rarer phenomenon nowadays, and sartorial art was extremely important, because it had not yet reached today's industrialization levels: everything it was handmade. Furthermore, I take inspiration from family archives and from my travels, and it can come just from a subtle detail. In the case of this last season presented at Pitti, for example, the scarves are inspired by Armenia, even if the red thread of the 20s and 50s style is always traceable.
What do you think is the secret to choosing the ideal tie and scarf?
The scarves and ties that I create and produce are tied to a specific type of customer, who have a personal idea of dressing: they look for our products because they know exactly what they want. In the past 2-3 years I have often talked to online customers who normally, to choose their look, they start from the tie and then combine everything else: this has always surprised me. I therefore believe that the choice is very impulsive, given by one's taste in the designs. From detail to total, a reversed point of view compared to the common one.
What do you think are the values to take up in this industry, and in this era?
Without a doubt, keep and carry on the concept of tailoring, communicate about a different and original, personal design, and try to teach what the product is, from the tie to the scarf, up to the jackets. It is important for us that everyone understand all the manual skills behind each creation and, above all, the difference between a mass production and a tailored garment, from the time taken to make it to those who create it. There is a very interesting anecdote on this last point, which few people know: from June to September I have a drop in production, for one simple reason: my ties are made by hand at home, as in the past, and today as these people are grandparents, since the school are closed and they have to take care of their grandchildren, they all work less. Obviously it is not a drastic drop, but there is! And it's fascinating, it allows me to convey the passion behind these working methods, which reflect on the product and create value.
How is your brand aligning with new sustainability standards?
I have several plans for the future. For sure, the silk and wool we use are already super natural and very precious materials, but we are increasingly passing through structures that use eco-compatible and vegetable dyeing processes and reuse and recycling of water during operations: I try to give priority to these production units instead of looking for companies where the price is lower but there are no certifications, investing in those who want to impact the environment as little as possible. I don't want to use recycled polyesters and materials, because in this case it would mean that my products have been thrown away: I want to create something that remains as an icon for a lifetime, as a collector's piece.