Craftsmanship, quality and responsibility: Men’s fashion 100 per cent made in Italy
TEXT: JESSICA HOLZHAUSEN | PHOTOS © DAVID CARLIER FOR KA/NOA
The Italian brand KA/NOA was born in the Piedmont region and celebrates classic and timeless fashion for men, but with a sustainable approach: all raw materials – from yarn to buttons – are regionally sourced in Italy. Named after the co-founders’ two children, Kaia and Noah, the company embodies the tradition of Italian fashion and visionary innovation. In early 2019, actor Patrick Dempsey became KA/NOA business partner.
KA/NOA luxury fashion for men is not just made in Italy, in the sense that many other brands claim, which actually only add the finishing touches there but otherwise buy from international suppliers: KA/NOA is 100 per cent made in Italy – from the yarn to the fabrics, buttons or labels. “At the beginning, I had to convince our suppliers to work with an unknown brand and unknown people who had this crazy mission to produce 100 per cent in Italy. Most of them told me I was crazy, but I followed my dream,” says KA/NOA co-founder Bruno Grande, who inherited his passion from his father – a tailor, upholsterer and decorator.
Inspired by Italian craftsmanship and the origins of fashion
As a true aesthete, Bruno Grande followed his dream to establish a timeless and elegant fashion brand for men with the opportunity for endless mix-matching of clothes that are at the same time very practical. KA/NOA symbolises the thread of life that links generation to generation, and traces fashion and people back to their roots. Against the international and superficial fast fashion trend, Bruno Grande wanted to create timeless wardrobe staples that last. He created something many did not believe was possible. But, with his enthusiasm, Bruno Grande convinced suppliers, and many of them have today become his friends. KA/NOA is a tribute to their traditional craftsmanship. “They are ordinary people doing extraordinary things and with this project we want to preserve their know-how and celebrate their work,” says Grande. “When we say ordinary, we actually mean human, people that have huge passion for what they do, people who want to produce quality and beautiful products.”
Bruno Grande originally had the idea because he had to travel a lot, and often on short notice. “That’s why I was always trying to find comfortable understated super-quality products that are easy to match and mix, from formal to casual looks just by changing one piece. I quickly realised that it was a mission impossible,” he says. Thinking of his father and remembering the smell and feel of fabrics he had often touched as a child, he decided to create that perfect wardrobe himself. A private idea turned into a business adventure.
Patrick Dempsey and Bruno Grande in Florence. Photo: © Ilaria Costanzo
Comfortable pieces with style
His no-nonsense approach influences every piece he designs. CONRAD, the KA/NOA exclusive collar shirt, is a signature shirt and emblematic piece of the collection – and one of Bruno Grande’s favourite pieces. The collar has a special design – larger on the back and thinner in the front – and the shirt is made of ultrafine cotton popeline. The collar allows for wearing it under a pullover with a crew neck, says Grande. “Normal collars flip over or under the crew neck, not this one. Either you love it or you hate it, but it never leaves a customer feeling indifferent.” According to KA/NOA, 99 per cent try it – and buy it. Unique designs like this, quality and craftsmanship, also convinced actor Patrick Dempsey, perhaps best known for his role as Derek Shepherd in the television series Grey’s Anatomy: in early 2019, he became a KA/NOA business partner. “I was captivated by KA/NOA’s approach and brand values from the moment I made my first order online and was amazed by the quality and the attention to details,” he commented on the alliance.
A family project for a better fashion future
KA/NOA does not simply follow trends, but has a sustainable, ‘slowear’ approach: “Our pieces are timeless and of the utmost quality. It means that you buy less but you buy better. We need to have respect for the clothes and for the people who make them. We cannot buy cheap, wear cheap and throw away. Mentalities in fashion have to change and move towards a more sustainable model,” says Bruno Grande. KA/NOA, for example, does not put pieces on sale, because the clothes actually cost what they are worth. KA/NOA is Bruno Grande’s and his family’s contribution to a more sustainable, respectful and qualitative future: “Respect and quality are at our core and we want to show that things can be done with love and passion.” And that reflects in every piece and garment.
KA/NOA has three standalone boutiques in Lausanne, Zurich and Crans Montana, and also sells online at www.therake.com and the company’s own online shop.