‘Willpower is strength’ This is the motto of Giulia Mercati, a designer of some 30 years from Sanseplocro. Clothing, for her is not merely a passion, but her achievements in the design world are something she works towards every day. ‘The Mag’ met with Giulia to hear her tale.
by Marco Polchi
We begin her story in 2009 – with a plain white T-shirt.
“Yes, that was the first step. I had the idea of writing the words ‘Che Fico’ on the t-shirt along with a piece of smiling fruit, which had an irreverent and immediate impact. Even at the promotional level. … it actually worked! I was then lucky enough to be able to present a capsule collection to an important show room”
In Milan, right?
“Yeah –at the ‘Spazio Gentile’ show room in Milan. I showed up there and told them I was from the Arezzo area and that I’d made this collection, and would they take a look at it and give me their opinion. They were actually impressed with it as well as the presentation.. it was all packed in large, hand-made folders.. and everything went from there.”
But you didn’t stop at just t-shirts, did you?
“No, then they asked me to come up with something original to go with them, so I made some chino style trousers in very bright colours. I added patterns to the bottoms which varied according to which shops they went to. It was a popular idea, the first season was successful and sales were good.”
When did you realise you wanted to be a fashion designer?
“The first inkling I had was when I was a child, at about 8 or 9. It was Carnevale time and I drew the dress I wanted to wear and took it to my grandma who was a seamstress. We then tried to make it together, in the way that I’d imagined it. While I was growing up I couldn’t get rid of the idea that I wanted something that I had created , rather than just buying something ready-made. I therefore think that I’ve always had this passion for fashion.”
What keeps you in the Upper Tiber Valley?
“I started in Sansepolcro for pragmatic reasons, in that I had the right kind of work space available. I have my organisational base here, and believe it or not, there’s a really experienced workforce in the area, with whom it’s been easy to establish a good working relationship. Some of the work, however, is done in Prato and Florence, as they have bigger laundries, fabric suppliers and accessory warehouses there.”
Lots of shops are closing, yet you’ve opened one up – risky?
“The shop came about as a second thought, and is thanks to a joint venture with the friend who suggested it. I didn’t have to think about it twice. Logistically it made sense.”
Ok, a more provocative question. Is it about time that young people woke up to reality? The opportunities are there if you know how to make the best of them.
“I agree. I know lots of people who don’t know what to do, and who would rather not do anything with their talents, but they’re wasting precious time. The people my age should at least get the idea of trying into their heads. After that, you need an element of luck, or even better a kind of lucky intuition, in order to fulfil your dreams. Having said that nothing happens by chance, especially these days.”
There are a lot of fashion blogs. Are you following any of them?
“No, not really. I keep up to date with them, but don’t follow them as such -mainly because I don’t think they’re very useful. For example, Chiara Ferragni’s blog. In the beginning it was brilliant, but now it seems to have lost its way. She was making great suggestions with ideas to suit everyone’s budget, but now, it just encourages people to spend without thinking about it or being creative. And, let’s not even talk about Biasi!”
Last question – what would you like to finish up with?
“Ok, I’ll explain my choice of name – ‘GdueChoice’. To do this kind of work takes a lot of inspiration but you also have to stay in touch with reality and not lose yourself – my brother is very good at helping me do this! I feel like there are two parts to my personality. At school they called me the General! On the other hand, I also have my solitary moments when I have to create something – hence the name: G= Giulia (of) two (due) Choices!”