Produces less, repair more: Atelier & Repairs

Written by Enrico Grigoletti

Week 09

I clearly remember I “met” Maurizio six years ago on the cover of Inventory (R.I.P. 2010 – 2016) and I was wondering who the heck this Italian guy was on the glossy cover of one of my favourite magazines. Our paths crossed several times until we finally ended up working together.
Maurizio’s résumé speaks for itself, and when I found myself examining an interesting picture he posted on his social media account I knew he was working on something new.
Here’s what he was working on.

Enrico Grigoletti) Ciao Maurizio, how are you doing?

Maurizio Donadi) I am doing well, thank you!

EG) I know that it has been a super busy moment between your family and work life.

MD) My family just added a new member, Kiran. He is 9 months old this week. We couldn’t be happier.
In relation to work, between our consulting business, building our own projects and moving to our new West Hollywood office, these last few months have been quite intense.

EG) So tell us a little bit more about what you’re doing.

MD) Our strategy for this year is to dedicate 60% of our time to our consultancy work and 40% in focusing on our own initiatives.

EG) I stumbled across your project through your social media account. Could you tell us a little bit more about Atelier & Repairs?

MD) For a long time I have been thinking about recycling.
It’s basically giving objects a second life.
Our society produces a lot more than needed, so the waste is immense. I wanted to utilize the left overs, the abandoned, the overproduced, and the defected. This process starts with deconstructing, repairing and strengthening objects, giving them a longer life.
With that vision and concept in mind, we started Atelier & Repairs last October, opening what we call our “Transformation Workshop” in a basement in Central London.

The London Transformation Workshop

Here we do everything from traditional alteration to creative repairs. We have eight sewing machines, a cutting table and two young and very talented tailors (Scott and Agna), who specialize in sportswear and denim. We provide service to the public, retailers and brands. Currently we are making our own scarves and pants. The scarves are made of precious and selected left over fabrics and assembled in a thoughtful way.
Our pants (vintage and not, from military to denim to work-wear) are transformed by meticulously reconstructing and adding a dose of fun décor (see photos sent).
In L.A., with the same principles, we just opened a second Transformation Centre.

EG) After L.A. are you planning to open other workshops too?

MD) We would love to.

EG) Produce less, repair more. Do you see this as a reaction to the current status of the fashion and apparel industry?

MD) The fashion and apparel world is going through a major crisis (from creative content to business formats). In my opinion, the worst has yet to come. The biggest issue is that (generally speaking) brands aim to be too big with quality decreasing in favour of volume. Very few brands appear truly unique and creative. Financially speaking, in the name of gross margins and profitability we penalize the final consumers (“the citizen” as the founder of Patagonia, Yvon Chouinard rightly calls them).
However, our initiative is definitely not a reaction to that. It is a way of thinking, a point of view based on having been in this industry for 35 years and having done things I haven’t always understood and agreed with. I often felt confused on what was right and what was wrong. A few years ago I felt that transformation was a process that seemed right: certainly eco-friendly but useful at the same time. I wanted to add fun as an element of entertainment which I often find missing in “green” initiatives.

EG) You also propose a service for brands. How should a small tailor made firm like A+R interact with a medium/big size company?

MD) Our contribution and services to these brands is based on quality of work requested, not in volume.

EG) Do you think that consumers are now caring more about developing a longer lasting “relationship” with their garments? The idea of giving a garment a second chance is almost intimate…

MD) I do, I’m not sure how others feel though. I just hope that in the future people will put more care into what they buy and more effort in learning what to do to make their favourite things last longer.

EG) Each item is one of a kind. This will extremely limit the business but also will open other opportunities. Which ones?

MD) Our source of inspiration comes from the idea of transforming rather than producing, listening rather than designing, experimenting rather than planning.
We are obviously intrigued by fabrics, function, quality, durability and colour.
The limitation is certainly in volume but the intention is not to build a large company. Small is beautiful, manageable and yet creative. By accepting this, there is no pressure to compromise our initial vision.
The opportunities are too many to mention. A less polluted world is the one I currently have in mind.

EG) What are your future plans?

MD) Survival.