THE ITALIAN JOB
In 1965, The editor-in-chief of Vogue Diana Vreeland coined the term “youthquake” to describe the revolution in retail started by designers like Mary Quant. Today, there’s another revolution going on, as consumers are moving away from fast fashion and demanding clothes that are well designed and ethically produced. Eleventy is a clothing and lifestyle brand that puts this idea of responsible luxury at the heart of its business.
Based in Milan, Eleventy unites menswear, womenswear, shoes, accessories, homewares and fragrances under one common thread: everything is made in Italy. “We have a unique manufacturing heritage and it’s our responsibility to protect it,” says Marco Baldassari, the creative director who manages the menswear collections (his co-director Paolo Zuntini manages the womenswear). “Through Italian craftsmanship, we offer our customers quality and excellence as well as timeless, modern designs that will last. This sort of responsible fashion is the future.”
Eleventy’s business model is to outsource production to 94 small enterprises, each one an expert in its field. “Our partners are highly specialized artisans with experience that sometimes dates back hundreds of years,” Marco says. “They adhere to the highest standards and use the best raw materials in Italy. Our products offer the best value-to-quality relationship and, at the same time, they sustain Italian salaries.”
Eleventy’s corporate responsibility extends to its commitment to environmental efforts all along the production chain. “We use natural dyes in our leather and suede products, and our fragrances and home products are chemical-free,” says Marco. “We try to minimize environmental impact wherever possible and we’re investing in research to reduce the carbon footprint of our business.” A former fashion agent, Marco has decades of experience anticipating what the luxury market will want next. He began his career at the label Cerrutti, where his father worked.
“I immediately fell in love with Italian craftsmanship,” he says. “My passion for high-quality products grew day by day and I began to dream of creating a brand that would represent my personal style, my philosophy and my lifestyle.”
When Marco and Paolo launched Eleventy in 2007, they decided that to set the right tone of understated elegance they would eschew logos. “Globally, there has been a change in mindset,” says Marco. “People are no longer interested in insincere, flashy branding. Authenticity is the new priority.”
As well as its own Mono-brand stores, the brand is now stocked in independent boutiques and high-end department stores worldwide, including Barneys, Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue in the US and Holt Renfrew in Canada, while in Ireland the brand partners with Brown Thomas. In London, Eleventy showcases the “World of Eleventy” at its space on the first floor of Selfridges on Oxford Street. “Selfridges shares our approach to responsible luxury and sustainability,” says Marco of their London stockists. “London is such a cosmopolitan city and it really resonates with the Eleventy mood.” The collection is also available in Harrods Knightsbridge and at Harrods Heathrow Terminal 5.
With clothing that runs from Italian size 44 to 60 (2XS to 4XL), the world of Eleventy is an inclusive one. “We want all our customers to look good and feel great,” says Marco. “When you feel better, your quality of life improves.”