Monday, April 25, 2011

ISAIA And More With Agyesh Madan Pt. I

There's no point in beating around the bush, my good friend Agyesh knows more about clothing than anyone I know.  There, I said it.  It's always a pleasure to get together and just sit back while he straight up schools myself and others in all things even remotely sartorially related.  Currently employed by ISAIA, Agyesh is one of the finest young guns working in menswear today and I figured it would make sense to have him impart some of his encyclopedic knowledge on us.  There is a lot to take in here, so I have split the interview up into multiple parts.  Sprinkled throughout is some fantastic imagery, handpicked by Agyesh himself, from Isaia's S/S 2011 collection, but these posts are all about the "words on the page", so to speak.  Hopefully you find this interview as informative and enjoyable as I do.

L: Please introduce yourself and let the good people know a little bit about your menswear pedigree and what you do now for ISAIA.

A: Agyesh Madan, Men's wear enthusiast with a strong penchant for design and construction.  I just love to find out how things are made, learn to make them and share with everyone how they are made. I am currently the Product Development and Marketing Manager for ISAIA Corp (USA).

[Editor's note: Agyesh, being his humble self, forgot to mention he has degrees from both Stanford University and Parsons.]

L: ISAIA is a brand gaining a lot of traction in the online menswear style blogosphere as of late.  Since a lot of people are lumping all these Italian brands together, what sets ISAIA apart from some of the other names we've been hearing?

A: ISAIA's core philosophy revolves around the appreciation for our Neapolitan heritage combined with a global modern outlook. ISAIA today is a true reflection of Gianluca Isaia who brought a fresh perspective to the brand when he took over as the president in 2005. Continuously shuttling between America, Italy, Russia, China and Japan, Gianluca has a pulse on the markets all around the world, lending a global perspective to the brand. Instead of just relying on the laurels of our Neapolitan heritage, we have continued to push the boundaries by focusing a lot on fabric. Our very own super talented fabric designer, Leonardo, spins his magic every season with tastefully crafted color stories derived from some amazing inspirations. Some of the latest ones have included Scottish tartans, the SS Andrea Doria and Winter in Cortina, Italy. 

Furthermore, with Gianluca at the helm we have reinterpreted some of our classic silhouettes to make them more relevant to the current times and our customers who we refer to as the ISAIA Men - Men that cry, Men that are willing to experience, Men that sin - True Men.


L: Anytime an ISAIA jacket pops up on a street style blog you can clearly see the red coral lapel pin (see image below, courtesy of Gilt Man).  There is a pretty cool story and significance behind it that impressed the hell out of me when we last talked.  I'm not ashamed to admit I was a little drunk, so I would love to hear the legend one more time.

A: The story behind the coral is one of my favorites. Remarkably superstitious people, the Neapolitans have many connections to this particular image that is unique only to the Bay of Naples.

Ancient mythology holds that the rare Mediterranean red coral was born from the story of Perseus and Medusa.  Legend has it that the brave Perseus rose to the occasion of slaying the Gorgon Medusa and delivered her head as a wedding gift to the King of Seriphos, who was to wed his mother.  During his travels home, Perseus fell in love with the beautiful Andromeda, who he saw chained to a seaside rock, soon to be eaten by the evil sea-monster, Cetus.  To prove his love and save her life, Perseus killed the terrible beast.  As he sat on the bank of the water to wash his hands, Perseus laid down the sack with Medusa's head next to him. The blood of her slain head dripped into the water and instantly transformed into what we know as Mediterranean red coral‚ forever a sign of good luck.

And hence, the little lapel pin is our wish for good luck for every customer that owns one of our jackets.


L: I'm of the opinion that the next great menswear trend born out of the internet is this idea of classic sportswear worn in a casual manner.  You know, a dressed up, dressed down look that we've been seeing in Europe, primarily Italy, for a long time.  How does ISAIA fit into this idea of the "Pitti Uomo man", as I've been calling it?

A: "Pitti Uomo Man", we know where we heard it first! Actually, the whole idea of wearing very classic tailored clothing in a more relaxed manner is the essence of Neapolitan dressing especially at ISAIA. Both on a very technical level with the soft/unpadded shoulders, the horsehair canvas that molds to the wearers body and on a metaphorical level where we refer to the jacket as our second skin, we strongly believe that looking polished and relaxed should not be exclusive choices. Last week, I had a very interesting discussion with our master tailor about the nuances and origins of the heavily padded jacket versus the soft-shouldered lightweight version. We concluded that while the heavily padded version was born out of a tailoring philosophy that used it to hide the flaws in a man's body and preserve the formality with which the suit was associated,  the softer counterpart is born out of the Neapolitan philosophy to make the jacket feel like a shirt and allow the man to go through the day in the jacket without being physically hindered in any way. Armor vs. A shirt!
To put it succinctly, a combination of our tastefully designed and curated set of fabrics and our time tested construction is what you need to stay relaxed and polished.


L: Whenever I talk to industry guys, I always want to know about their own personal style philosophy.  What are your rules, tips, tricks, etc. and how are you going to sartorial turn it out this S/S?  I know you also do some freelance styling so I imagine you've got a lot to say.

A: Style Philosophy – A mish mash of varied life experiences all tied together with an understanding of proportions (thanks, dad) and a sense of color blindness (thanks, mom)

Spring Summer 2011 – I love my linen and cotton suits. You will see me tie-less a lot with some interesting new shoes in rotation.

Tips/Advice – Am not old enough to impart any. But if I had to, I would say it is as important to care about your attire and presentation, as it is to not lose yourself in this whole race to dress appropriate/stylishly. And, if you have any square-toed shoes (apart from military issue boots) throw them in the garbage right now.

In the end, they are just clothes. One can do a lot worse. 


-L.A.S

18 comments:

  1. So insightful. And this is only the first installment?! Lawrence, Jerm and Kenny, when the hell are you one of you blokes gonna introduce me to the man?! Long overdue obviously.

    ReplyDelete
  2. please stop the autoplay of that "gilt" promo

    ReplyDelete
  3. Excellent interview. Really looking forward to reading the rest!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Great post, looking forward to the next installment.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Like every other blog that mentions ISAIA, you forgot to answer the most important question:

    How do you pronounce the name? Is-ah-ee-ah?

    ReplyDelete
  6. Pronounced as "ee-sigh-ee-uh" in one quick oral motion.

    ReplyDelete
  7. The Striking FellowApril 26, 2011 at 9:25 AM

    What is the fabric used on the jacket in the second picture (with the denim shirt)?

    ReplyDelete
  8. I realize you're not a journalist, but come on, man, you have to do a little work. Next time you do an interview, do an actual interview, don't email the person questions and reprint his stilted corporate PR-speak. That is some Pennysaver-level shit. You're not doing yourself or Mr. Madan any favors.

    ReplyDelete
  9. @The Striking Fellow: That is a Jacquard wool fabric from the FW 2010 collection.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I just purchased a new Isaia sportcoat from Neiman Marcus. No coral lapel pin....Guess I'm the unlucky one who's jacket came without this bonus.....is there anyway to get one ?

      Delete
  10. ANON - You couldn't find any of the actual content objectionable so you have to go after the format now? Why are you such a miserable person?

    ReplyDelete
  11. Wake me up when this fucking snoozefest is over.

    ReplyDelete
  12. ANON - I'd prefer you die in your sleep. The the heck out of here if you don't like the content.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I will get "the the heck out of here" for now. Gotta go get a blowjob from your mother.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I just purchased a new Isaia sportcoat from Neiman Marcus. No coral lapel pin....Guess I'm the unlucky one who's jacket came without this bonus.....is there anyway to get one ?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ebay has few right now

      Delete