With an innate fascination for fashion since the age of six, Federico Cina has been pursuing his dream since he was a teenager living in a small town in Italy, always trying to bring himself closer to a world he admired from afar. Nowadays, not only is he in this world, but he is also creating one of his own shaped through his unique life experiences. Federico Cina is unapologetically himself and is using his unique character to bring to life a unique genderless collection that he’ll present in a few weeks at Capsule Show during New York Fashion Week.
Who was Federico Cina and who is he now?
I don’t think ‘there was’ and ‘there is’ different Federicos; there has never been something that marked a difference between past and present. I’ve always been a child dreamer but never felt similar to the other kids, I’ve always felt more mature than my peers – I do not know why. To date, I'm still the same child but I dream bigger and bigger.
What does a day in the life of Federico Cina look like?
It's a really boring day. A few weeks ago, I was working for a brand while also doing my own work. But recently, I decided to devote my energy to my collections only. Now in January I will present my Fall/Winter 2018 collection during New York Fashion Week, at the Capsule Show fair, and I will show it to buyers in person for the first time. So lately my days have been very monotonous, dedicating all my time to complete the collection.
When I wake up, I absolutely need to have breakfast right away, check my e-mails and then start researching or sewing prototypes. Fortunately, I live with my boyfriend, Simone, who is the designer of his own brand, Simon Cracker. During the day we work together, each on their own brand, but at night we finally dedicate time to ourselves by having dinner and watching a TV series until we fall asleep.
Federico Cina Metalmagazine 4.jpg
Federico Cina Metalmagazine 6.jpg
How did growing up in Italy shape the person you are today, and did it have any influence in your decision to pursue fashion design?
I do not believe that the desire to become a fashion designer is thanks to having grown up in Italy. It was something I felt inside since I was six years old, as a need for life. As for Italy, we have many problems today but I'm happy to having grown up here thanks to the obsessive artisanal work that taught me the Made in Italy label, a great value that my brand will always have.
From wanting to be an interior designer to being a hairdresser to fashion design, do you remember the moment, person or collection that inspired you to become what you are today? Or what made you step back from pursuing the other creative professions you fancied?
As I already mentioned, I felt the passion of becoming a fashion designer since I was six. I grew up in a very small city of about three thousand people with very closed minds, so I thought the fashion world was too far from me. When I found myself choosing a path, I thought of everything but fashion design. I attended art school, I studied architecture and thought that interior design was my creative outburst. But in the second year it wasn’t enough, so I left and started working as a hairdresser. I liked to do it, but the passion for fashion design was always inside me, so I decided to attend night school for pattern making and tailoring.
I attended the course for a year and, finally, I realised that this passion was not possible to hold firm, that I had to try, and thanks to the encouragement of my former boss, I tried and I started at Polimoda. After a tiring journey, I am currently happy with what I'm doing. Now I clearly see my goal, so I look up and walk.
During your time at Polimoda you were selected for an exchange program at Osaka’s Bunka Fashion College in Japan. How was that different from your experience in Italy? Where did the emphasis lie - fashion, the body, business, creativity?
It was a great experience, the way they work is completely different, they are much more devoted to what they do. My Japanese classmates, compared to the Italian ones, were much more serious – and were very good in the paper pattern.
Federico Cina Metalmagazine 17.jpg
Federico Cina Metalmagazine 8.jpg
How is the role of the body different in Japan than in Italy?
Polimoda has a much more creative approach compared to that of Bunka, which has a much more technical and precise approach to the modelling and sartorial part. The use of the body is really different: in Japan, the body is really respected, starting from good nutrition and physical activity – almost all of them have beautiful bodies. But there are many limitations for a designer there. For example, a male designer cannot see or dress a female model, so he must have female assistants to do it for him. In fact, when I did the show, I could not dress my models even for the tests. First, I explained the words on the drawings, and then, I only arranged the looks before the final output on the catwalk.
Your latest collection, Vacuum, presented in Portugal, was about discomfort and feeling out of place. Those are feelings that were evoked in you during your time in Japan because you felt alienated by their ‘pretended perfection’. Now that you are back in your place of comfort, can you look back at that experience and feel differently about your time there?
Exactly, Vacuum speaks about the discomfort I felt in a country completely opposite to where I grew up, so it’s about my emotions. The discomfort began shortly after my arrival in Japan; the differences emerged immediately, but I decided to be inspired by these unpleasant emotions, like the feeling of continued loneliness, even in the exits of the subway, in a maniacal and ill manner. I forced myself into a suffocating country, irritating and wrapping the chest claustrophobically.
I felt isolated in a sea of ​​human beings. Before living in Japan I thought I was a perfectionist, but after seeing my classmates or teachers working, I did not feel so perfect. They are war machines, they work with great devotion. Now, if I go back to my memories of Japan, I remember it as a wonderful experience, it has made me grow so much. I would do it again a hundred times, but maybe with the awareness of the great opportunity that I had.
Did you take some of that influence back home with you?
Absolutely yes, their culture and lifestyle have taught me so much, especially respect; not only for people but also for their country.
Federico Cina Metalmagazine 12.jpg
Federico Cina Metalmagazine 11.jpg
Some people say that spending time alone helps you get to know yourself. Has this been your case? Did you take this loneliness as a way to detach from the outside and focus on yourself?
Yes, it was also in my case. The strong loneliness helped me to get to know myself better. I landed in Japan after a long, stressful period in which I had almost forgotten about myself. In Japan, I managed to devote some time to myself, it was like a psychological and physical rehabilitation. I discovered parts of who I am that I didn’t know or didn’t remember anymore; I was more aware of the values ​​of life, friends, family and love.
How did you come to translate those emotions into such beautifully coloured clothes?
It wasn’t difficult to choose these colours because they are the ones I felt inside. The colour palette of this collection reflects my positive emotions during this experience in Japan; it is the strength and the will I had while feeling alone and abandoned, so I identified with the tenderness of a child who always looks with positive eyes full of light.
Do you always use your emotions and feelings as a starting point for your collections?
I always use my emotions; I need to feel on my skin what I want to convey to others. Every designer tries to create unique collections and I think that only our adventures or our emotions can make them so because every human being has his or her own story to tell, which is certainly different from all the rest.
Federico Cina Metalmagazine 19.jpg
Federico Cina Metalmagazine 20.jpg
What is the most exciting thing that happened to you after you graduated?
So many things have happened: winning the first prize at Fashionclash in Maastricht was a great satisfaction, it felt a bit like being repaid after so many sacrifices made to finish Polimoda in the best way. Participation at the Lisbon Fashion Week was also an incredible experience.
Yes, the Fashionclash Festival in Maastricht is such a positive anecdote. Could you tell me a little about your experience there?
My experience in Maastricht was very positive. Even though we were all part of the fashion system, it really felt like I was home with my family; we were a big group of people helping each other. I didn’t expect to win and in fact, during the announcement I was quite absentminded and completely relaxed; but then I was in the middle of the runway with the jury and everyone was applauding!
Is there something you wish you could go back and do over?
No, I would do everything I did again. I do not regret my choices because they’ve made me who I am today.
Federico Cina Metalmagazine 21.jpg
Federico Cina Metalmagazine 22.jpg
In the past, you’ve created both womenswear and menswear collections, as well as handbags, and shoes. What are you focusing on now?
Now I'm focusing on the Fall/Winter 2018 collection, named How a Life Comes to the World. I’ve always defended that we shouldn’t be labelled or discriminated, so I’ve decided that from now on, I will make collections that are for both men and women. 
Is there anything you are currently working on that we will be seeing soon?
I’m working on extending my brand by getting involved with stores and retail. As I’ve already mentioned, I will present my Fall/Winter 2018 collection during New York Fashion Week at Capsule Show this January. And in March, I will present it on a runway during Lisbon Fashion Week.
How do you see Federico Cina developing in the next few years?
I see myself with my own team getting bigger over time, expanding within a sales network. My goal is to dress people around the world with my emotions. I would also like to participate in Milan Fashion Week. I would be really proud if I was presented as a young designer in my ‘hometown’.
Federico Cina Metalmagazine 2.jpg
Federico Cina Metalmagazine 3.jpg
Federico Cina Metalmagazine 5.jpg
Federico Cina Metalmagazine 7.jpg
Federico Cina Metalmagazine 9.jpg
Federico Cina Metalmagazine 10.jpg
Federico Cina Metalmagazine 13.jpg
Federico Cina Metalmagazine 14.jpg
Federico Cina Metalmagazine 16.jpg