Since its founding in 1995, Italian brand Liu Jo from Carpi has evolved in the blink of an eye to become a successful international brand operating in the premium segment. Denim, in particular, used to create the perfect fitting designs and washes, is an intrinsic part of the brand's DNA. Now, Liu Jo has taken the first step towards sustainability with the “Better Denim” capsule collection. In collaboration with Candiani, an expert in sustainable production, special fabrics and dyeing techniques were selected in order to drastically reduce the use of water and chemicals during the production process. Liu Jo’s “Better Denim” collection will arrive in store this autumn, and the collection is being developed further for Spring/Summer 2020. It’s a big green thumbs-up! We met Marco Marchi, President and Head of Style, and talked about what the brand is up to right now:
Liu Jo is a family run business, please can you tell us how it all began and where you are today?
I was born and raised in Carpi, Italy, a region that has always been associated with clothing, especially knitwear, with an expertise that had made this area one of the best in international fashion. So, it came naturally to me to approach the world of fashion, to put in practice the passion that I have always nurtured and that has surrounded me since I was a child; firstly, by working for smaller companies with my first business ideas, secondly – in 1995 – by opening Liu Jo, which in under 25 years stole the limelight as an international brand known in the industry for its values, glamour and Italian-ness. So, I tried to combine an Italian heritage with a clear view of today’s femininity, investing all my passion and entrepreneurial spirit into the company.
There are 11 labels under the Liu Jo name which must be a lot of work to manage; are these labels all designed seasonally within the traditional fashion calendar (twice a year)?
Right now, the „labels“ are in fact 11, but all of them have been designed to speak to an independent, contemporary woman, who is aware of herself and her personality; the values that inspire such labels are, therefore, the same; they are made to be worn on different occasions, but they all share the same DNA as well as the same macro-inspirations. Nowadays, most of them „work” on 4 releases a year (2 for the Spring/Summer season, 2 for the Fall/Winter season), except for our „pre-collections“ (Liu Jo Gold Label, Liu Jo Pre-Collection Black Label), the seasonal collections (Liu Jo Beachwear, Les Plumes de Liu Jo) and the Junior&Baby collection, which are released just once a year.
What challenges do you face with a big brand name?
Staying loyal to one’s DNA while being able to innovate is the toughest challenge, in my opinion, nowadays. The fashion world is being swept away by an important revolution, especially because now the problem of environmental sustainability calls us to act responsibly and effectively; of course, we have to change tack but we cannot compromise on our high quality and creative standards.
Each season Liu Jo features icon women in the campaigns, how do you select them?
We choose women who embody an independent femininity, who have their own identity and are in keeping with the values of empowerment and glamour that we try to convey in our campaigns; Anna Ewers, who has been the brand’s face for the #Glamourizing campaign in the last three seasons, is definitely a successful example.
The Better Denim project was recently announced. Can you explain the concept to our readers and why you have decided to launch first with a Denim-only collection?
A few months ago, we launched our Liu Jo Better Denim project, in-store since June – for the FW19 season. We started with denim, because it’s one of the most polluting clothes in terms of manufacture and also because denim has been one of our brand’s icons since the launch of our Bottom Up, in the distant 2008; so, it felt natural to start from there, sending a very powerful message that is consistent with what the company is. Most importantly, even for the SS20 season we are still determined and excited to keep moving on, along the way of eco-sustainability, supporting it as a key value and shaping our eco-friendly journey with a more conscious perspective. For the Spring/Summer 2020 season, the “Better” items – this is the name that will feature on the labels of the brand’s eco-friendly pieces – will be lots more and will be included in all of the brand’s main collections, thus remarkably extending their “weight” within the Liu Jo offering; part of such ranges will also be on display in our booth at Premium.
What makes these new denim styles sustainable?
For the SS20 (as a preview), as well as for the previous season, we partnered with Candiani, to produce our jeans with chitosan and Candiani’s exclusive Indigo Juice® technology, as this can dramatically reduce water, chemical and energy consumption in the manufacturing process. So, the weight of the eco-sustainable indigo fabric has remarkably grown, and new fits and unique finishes have been added to the collection; next to the iconic “bottoms”, there are new, embroidered styles and items decorated with special details, a pair of shorts, a shirt and a denim jacket, which may be mixed and matched to put together an outfit that nods to the ‘green’ world.
When will you launch Better Denim in-store and which countries?
The Liu Jo Better Denim FW19 is an integral part of our Blue Denim collection, so, depending on the styles, it will be available in all of the main markets where Liu Jo works; it will be in store by the end of June 2019. The SS20 collection will be available in late November, instead.
Which icon do you see wearing your Better Denim?
Anna Ewers is also the star of our denim campaign, which has a special place in a shoot where she is wearing the Liu Jo Better Denim and perfectly translates the #Naturalglam concept of natural, effortless glamour that we think is perfectly in tune with the project; I couldn’t have asked for a better icon.
You have been with PREMIUM for many seasons, what changes have you noticed over the years?
Attention to quality and the ability to stand out from the crowd has enormously grown, above all in the b2b market; the industry is moving so fast that we need to be dynamic, responsive, and this can also be seen in our approach to the fair and the feedback we receive at the booth, but, as I said, if you want to stand out then you need to be loyal to your values and to your DNA, and you can never forget that. We, as Liu Jo, are always very glad to come to the fair, which definitely provides one of the most interesting global overviews of the industry, and we think it is an outstanding showcase of the German market – certainly one of our key markets in Europe.