Big Uncle is an Italian independent menswear brand founded in 2014 by Sabino Iebba and Riccardo Moroni.
We met for a coffee in their studio in Milan right after their FW18 presentation in Janaury.
First question I asked when I met them was related the meaning of the brand name. “Each one of us has a very cool uncle who somehow inspires us when we work on the moodboards; so this is how the name came out”.
AA “Why did you dedice to launch a menswear brand? what was the reason behind it?”
BU: “We wanted to create something that we felt was lacking around. So we started working on a real and honest brand bearing in mind our strong passion and culture for fabric research, which is always key for the creation of our products. And from the fabrics creating garments with modern volumes and sophisticated colour palettes. Yet since the beginning we have more and more translated our core values into a more modern and contemporary style.
AA: “Are guys happy with the results you had so far?”
BU: “We are, although we know we are not perceived as a very commercial brand. The development of the brand is based on strong pillars which makes things a bit more tough for us. From day one Big Uncle has been a total-look brand, we have never made use of the logo in any way, and we realize that the guy buying our products has usually a certain sense of style and culture.
AA: “Which are the most important markets for you right now?”
BU: “for sure Italy and Japan”
AA: “Is your business model today based only on wholesale basis?”
BU: “Yes, although we are now taking some decisions about launching our e-commerce platform. A few different ideas are now on the table and we hope to do that very soon”.
AA: “What is your opinion about the use of social media today? Are you taking advantage making use of those tools?
BU: We currently just use Instagram (account name is @biguncleclothing) and we upload pictures of our collections, moodboards or inspiration contents. We are not fans of the influencers world, simply because they do not represent our world nor the man that is wearing our products.
AA: “How many people do you employ today?”
BU: “about 10 people work with us in the design team”
AA: “So this means that all product development as well as sales, PR and communication is done by somebody else right?”
BU “that is correct!”
AA: “How is your corporate website doing at the moment? Do you have any interaction with your audience from there (use of newsletters)?
BU: we have very recently started to work with a branding agency and look forward to improve our website in making it more functional in the next couple of months.
AA: “How does your communication policy look like at the moment?” what’s your approach when it comes to print/social/digital?
BU: Although we love print magazines, we realize that costs are high and the return on the investment is slow and way too modest. Digital communication and Instagram gives us the chance to directly talk to all interested accounts, they can ask questions or make comments and immediately get an answer from us.
AA: “Where do you manufacture your garments? Has it been difficult to find the right manufacturers?”
BU: Everything is made in Italy and yes it has been difficult to find both the right fabric makers than manufacturers. It took us several months to find the right ones, but now we are satisfied to be working with the correct partners.
AA: “Which brands do you like to see sitting next to Big Uncle in a multibrand store?”
BU: Surely Camoshita, Acne, Officine Generale, Sacai. And the reason is because each one of them has its own identity. We offen struggle a bit to get where we want simply because the brand is younger and the brand awareness is still to be developed. The collection is also perceived as premium price wise, and that is due to the use of fabrics – always quite unique – and by using great manufacturers in the North of Italy.
AA: Where do you see the brand in 3 years?
BU: Hopefully in the best 100 worldwide retailers. And develop our e-commerce , with aim to have it for 30% of the total revenues.
AA:”What’s the biggest mistake you think you’ve made lately?”
BU: “not to listen too much to the market, to what the buyers were asking. We have been coherent from the beginning and always followed what we believed was right for the building of Big Uncle. We do have strong heritage components in the collections yet with a modern approach for the modern man.
AA: “What are you mostly proud of?”
BU: “Definitely our coherence. We have been growing season after season. And surely the evolution of our collections, each one of them has kept an homogeneous flair and flavor”
AA: “What does it mean to wear a cool modern guy today?”
BU: “To provide him with cool stuff that can all time be worn, with great aesthetics, design and quality. We are very far from other brands strategies, see Off White, that do make products for one season only. We think that you can each season add new elements in your wardrobe by mixing them with garments we made in the previous seasons.
article by Alessandro Agazzi
pictures SS18 collection, courtesy of Big Uncle