We visited Loris Messina and Simone Rizzo – founders and creative minds behind the emerging internationally acclaimed menswear brand SUNNEI – in their rooftop studio located in the heart of Milan, with an amazing view of the city skyline. They told us about their origins, influences, creative process and why, to them, Milan is the best place to live and work right now.
Tell us more about your background.
Neither of us studied fashion – Loris studied Marketing while Simone studied Business Management and later completed a Master’s degree in Digital Media Management. Everything we know has been self-taught and learned from our previous experiences.
Simone also works as a buyer for a menswear boutique in Milan, and before being full time on Sunnei, Loris worked in the Visual Merchandising department of Gucci. Both of us have had experience with photography and that's probably why the brand's imaginary is so well defined.
How did you break into the fashion industry and why did you choose this field?
Fashion and clothing were always something that interested us both. Since a young age we had a passion for garments, so it was just natural that eventually we would end up doing something in this field.
Loris is from Grenoble, Simone comes from Calabria, in the south of Italy. How do your origins influence your work?
Our hometowns are completely different, so we definitely didn't grow up in similar environments. We can say that even though our taste is very much alike and we ride on the same wave, Loris brings the French clean lines and aesthetics onto the brand while Simone offers a more colourful view of things. It's a good mix. We balance each other out when it comes to brainstorming our new collection.
What other influences can you mention when it comes to your creative process?
We want to concentrate on the things we are passionate about without being influenced by the trends most commonly followed. The creative process starts with a careful selection of textiles which then leads to the actual design process.
You guys are currently based in Milan. What is your relationship with this city?
We just kind of ended up here to study and never really left. Milan is the only city in Italy where you can create your own reality and find open doors, not only in fashion but in every industry. Everybody passes through Milan. Most fashion houses’ HQs are here. The quality of life is good in relation to its price. We always consider leaving, but at this very moment this city is the best place for us. Also, our brand has been received very well here. We hope to be one of the first of many young fashion entrepreneurs to gain recognition.
Your brand is enjoying quite a bit of international success. Where would you go if you had to move?
As mentioned before, we’ve thought about it more than once. However, we are lucky enough to have the best manufacturers close by, the best textile mills and we work in close contact with them, hence, moving would make it hard for us to keep up with such relationships.
How would you define a typical Sunnei person?
The Sunnei man is always updated on lifestyle and design and he is attracted by the quality and shapes of clothing. He is so into art to the point he understands and appreciates the art of making and creating our products and he loves to wear our garments. Our target market likes to keep up to date, with a special interest for fashion, art and music. Our customers are travellers with a cosmopolitan and international appeal. He doesn’t have a specific age. He could be an architect in his 40s or a young mobile app developer that just moved from the south of Europe to the north.
Have you ever thought about designing a woman’s collection?
You never know! We don't want to close our possibilities.
What’s coming next?
We like to concentrate more on the present than the future. We’d rather show things when they’re done than speak about them before they materialise!