Living as a Mod in the 21st Century

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Lessons in style by the master behind DNA Groove, Claudio De Rossi

The title of Ace Face is not something I throw around lightly. But when I think of Claudio De Rossi, the top brass behind the DNA Groove clothing line, I couldn't imagine someone more deserving of that title. He lives, breathes and exudes style. His passion undeniably translates into his creations.

I can't believe it took me this long before buying my first piece from DNA Groove. I have to admit that I have long been inspired by many of the details seen on his clothes when came time to have my own suits tailor-made. Isn't imitation the most sincere form of flattery?

So it was only a matter of time before I made the plunge. I suspect that, like many of my mates, I will become a long time customer. I recently bought this burnt burgundy herringbone pattern jacket.

This heavy wool fabric might not be ideal for the upcoming summer months but for a late scooter strole during spring time in Canada, I couldn't think of a classier way to do it.

DNA Groove Chianti60 jacket, white bespoke button-down shirt, 50s deadstock slim tie, 60s deadstock trousers,  burgundy Bass Weejuns, Lambretta watch

Although I have never met Claudio in person, we have exchanged pleasantries on many occasions in this ultra-exclusive, VIP only, secret Facebook group about Mod fashion. (Sorry guys, invitation only) So this goes to show how much this man loves clothes. He will exchange on the subject on his own time! You can also find him periodically on the DNA Groove YouTube channel, giving sage advice on how to skillfully combine what I call the 4 S (shirts, suits socks and shoes).

Aside from his incredible eye for detail, his search for the highest quality fabrics, I think what sets this man apart is his customer service. This is personalized service at its best. He even texted me while on vacation! You don't believe me? I will stake my reputation on it.

So what an honor to have him answer a few questions for the Parka Avenue readers.

Tell us how you got involved in the garment industry.

I was going to older tailors getting stuff made as Mods usually do ... that and deadstock items at shops. After I bought out an existing vintage clothes store (DNA), customers wanted to know where I got the clothes I usually wore. Vicenza and the Veneto region are the manufacturing centers of Italy (Diesel, Bottega Veneta, GAS jeans, Pal Zileri to name a few) so it was easy enough to approach local makers (who work for the big boys) to have small runs made up. Hipster trouser and shirts were the first to be made at the tail end of 1999 and sold as DNA GROOVE to distinguish the new lines from the other vintage clothes I still sold.

Where do you get your inspiration when you decide to design a new clothing line? 

Usually items I want for myself I put on the ‘to – make’ list. Can be pictures I see online or books, films, or something that is out there but not *exactly* like I would do it, so I make my own version. Or just stuff that I want but cannot find in my size, I make my version of it. It’s always items that have been made over the years so not really inventing or *designing* anything (that is why I really do not consider myself a designer). I’ve had a thing for clothes since I was very young so it’s natural for me to look at people and examine them, especially when they are wearing something that appeals to me in a new, different way (rather than the standard look I already wear and like most). This always gives me food for thought. I never limit myself to the ‘standards’,  both in the ‘high street’ way or the Modernist way. 

I went through a psychedelic faze in the late 90s which too was stimulating and was helpful to keep my outlook open and receptive (not to mention I was playing in a psych band so style and music went hand in hand). Now musically and stylistically I dig even further back, 1920’s America mainly, but any 20s – 50s style is very *do-able* and can be tweaked to suit my usual range.

You seem to invest a lot of time and effort in choosing your fabrics. How important is that to you?

When I see a garment, I automatically look at it and touch it. It is very important for me that I feel the fabric which will then be made into a garment, its fundamental that I *click* with it. I already picture it made into a specific garment and with this all possible matches start jumping out into my head.  I think that a garment not only needs to fit right, sit and look right, it definitely needs to feel right. Also colours, texture and weight are all important and all have their place to fill in what is the overall picture.

How do you explain Mods being such a loyal clientele?

I must say that not all my customers are Mods but surely most are in or around that scene. Mods are the best dressed people around (mostly), so I think it’s only natural that they see an attraction in well-made, quality clothes that are made by someone which has been and still is in ‘The Scene’. I still go to clubs and play the music. I still love the clothes I have always loved. I am part of it all and so have a clear idea of what we/they want and are after.

Also, the clothes are made in such small quantities that it will be extremely hard to find someone else wearing the same garment. Exclusivity and individuality are ever so important to us, and this is what I offer.

Lastly, the Mod scene has always been somewhat ‘intellectual’, in the sense that they love being informed musically, stylistically, scooters, fabrics, shoes, film, history (after all its been over 50 years since it all began), thus many are also receptive to the more ethical aspects of consumption. Many do look at the ‘Made in .. ‘ aspect and appreciate the fact that DNA clothes are made in Italy by small Italian family run companies, artisanship that is so rare to find nowadays, especially at this accessible price range.

Also, many appreciate the fact that a lot of effort is put into keeping unnecessary waste to a minimum, recycling is constant and this shows right through to the recent decision to use left over cloths from production for packaging the items. This is, dare I say, a first in the fashion world. Each item is sold in a hand sewn cloth bag made from left-overs, that you can then use for travel or storage. With DNA, esthetics and ethics go hand in hand and this is something your average mod approves of. Not to mention the lack of visible labels. Again, dare I say, a first in the fashion world? This is something very Mod in my opinion.

Mods are all about attention to details. Is that a priority for you?

Attention to detail is important as is attention to individuality, exclusivity and fit. A jacket needs to have a perfect lapel roll or the right shaped shoulder, sleeve length or trouser length. These are the details I feel are important, along with the limited availability of a particular garment, rather than a cool accessory or style (stepped trouser or fold-back suit sleeve for example) on an ill fitting garment.
Most Mods pride themselves in being staunch individualists in their fashion sense and don't like being told what they can and cannot wear. Some of us do make mistakes. What are a few fashion faux pas we should avoid?

Rather than say what one should not do or wear, I would rather say that one needs to wear something suitable for his or her frame and age. Keep it simple at first and then once the basics are taken care of, it can be upped a step. Quality always needs to come first and rather save to buy something decent than spend on something badly made (and thus usually cheap). Also be comfortable with your outfit or don’t wear it. That being said, my pet peeves style wise would be elongated shoes, long suit sleeves, long trouser hems, most pleated trousers and the colour black.

Any exclusive upcoming scoops you want to share with the Parka Avenue readers?

I am making a 3-piece suit which I am excited about. It's a mix between early and mid 20th Century. New kangaroo basket weave patterns for shoes and working on a fur collar coat for the winter. Oh, I'm also excited about the incoming paisley silk ties.

1 comment:

  1. Very nice. Have bought dozens of DNA shirts both in shops and directly from Claudio. Recommended.