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A profile on Italian Streetwear brand United Standard

Helmed by Giorgia Di Salvo, protégé and collaborator of Kanye West and Virgil Abloh, the brand has become one of the must knows of Italian streetwear.

A profile on Italian Streetwear brand United Standard Helmed by Giorgia Di Salvo, protégé and collaborator of Kanye West and Virgil Abloh, the brand has become one of the must knows of Italian streetwear.

Italian streetwear brand United Standard is one of the names on the Italian market that is making a name for itself with its non-traditional approach to fashion. Designer Giorgio Di Salvo, who launched the brand in 2015, is known for working with streetwear behemoths like Kanye West, Virgil Abloh, Marcelo Burlon among others. However, Di Salvo is not only known for his impressive resume but his complex philosophy in regards to the industry of fashion and streetwear, he often describes his brand as “the answer to the contemporary culture offerings as a merging point of aesthetics and functionality.” 

Di Salvo first began in the industry as a graphic designer, art director and designer. He originally opened his first brand called VNGRD in 2004 which Kanye West heard about in 2007/2009 and contacted the designer for collaborations. After working together for some time, Di Salvo naturally also became in contact with West’s friend Virgil Abloh who also helped in shaping his view on streetwear. Eventually, while working on several other projects, the designer began to join forces one season with friend Marcelo Burlon who had expressed his interest in his aesthetics. That first collaboration on some graphics turned into a five-year partnership between himself and the designer, which he alternated between collabs with other brands like Damir Doma and Nike. Throughout all of these collaborations, the designer began to acknowledge his want for something of his own.  

I immediately thought of a brand of accessories, a project that was initially called Black Standard”, which was presented in the Kaleidoscope Gallery in Milan. Following the success of this presentation, the designer was eventually contacted by Davide De Giglio, co-founder of Italian luxury company New Guards Group, who suggested that the two join forces, which was when the designer opted to change the brand’s name from Black Standard to United Standard. After launching one season’s collection under the luxury group, the designer then decided the partnership was no longer working and parted ways. “I preferred to relaunch my project on my own, taking on Slam Jam, which has been distributing me for four seasons now.” The designer also claimed the New Guards Group wanted to push a product fuelled by the hype rather authenticity, “I am one who always worked in the shadows, always in the direction of credibility, not necessarily flaunted by obtained.”  

Soon after parting ways with the group, Di Salvo launched his first successful show earlier this year in Milan. The brand’s aesthetic over the previous seasons although not presented in runway format, was carried out in different ways which created high expectations for their first runway show. For SSS17, the designer debuted a collection in ode to the work of a mechanic, with a collection that featured non-typical materials and complex techniques in homage to the complex internal system of cars.

For their SSS18 drop, they opted to experiment with the use of technical fabrics paired with the practicality of streetwear which he was inspired to display the mysterious nature surrounding this collection in a short complex film called The Malware.

So of course after exercising the depths at which he was able to think, nothing less than exceptional was expected. The FW19 show was indeed a hit, Di Salvo presented a series of unisex looks, with sophisticated street aesthetics, eye-catching graphics and technical fabrics inspired by the theme of factory workwear. 

I thought about what my first fashion show meant to me: it couldn't start from a too specific topic…so we identified the theme of the creative factory, the mechanics, the workwear and the history. We imagined a factory, however progressive, with progressive music ... We started from afar, with an imaginary mood like La Jetée and Chris Marker, with the underground of the 60s and 70s. We were inspired by Andrei Tarkovsky's sci-fi movie Stalker, with a very dark atmosphere. 

This underground mood was showcased in mainly dark colours, long black ribbons and fake straight jackets. Some models wore cargo pants and of course t-shirts and sweaters with some of Di Salvo’s graphics on them. Each look containing a deeper body of research behind them like pieces made from the same fabrics as sails boats, to looks made from the heat resistant synthetic fibre fabric of Kevlar and other experimental materials. The collection itself was not only a different type of approach to the genre of streetwear but through the brand's method of fabric, experimentation may also aid in finding viable solutions to the matters of sustainability. 

United Standard's second show, SS2020 is set to debut this weekend, Sunday, June 17th, stay tuned for updates.