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On and On SS16

Interview with Silvia Di Grazia

On and On SS16 Interview with Silvia Di Grazia

Founding – and carry on – a fashion brand when you’re very young involves many risks, but also immense satisfactions. On and On was born in 2009 thanks to the enthusiasm and talent of  Silvia Di Grazia, Tuscan designer based in Milan.

For seven years her brand has revisited the aesthetic codes of her major passions – hip hop music and sportswear – creating a feminine and refined streetwear. In conjunction with the release of her SS16 collection, On and On has reached a turning point. Silvia tells us about it in this interview, which also introduces the video-campaign of the collection.


#1 You have launched On and On in 2009, shortly after your graduation. What are the risks associated with the decision to found a fashion label so young? Would you do it again?

I worked for two style offices right after my graduation, but I was developing other people’s ideas all day and I was not very happy with what I was doing. Let's say that creating my own brand with no experience was not easy, especially finding the right suppliers. It’s hard to be taken seriously in Italy when you are 26 and look like 22. But I’ve never given up, because my enthusiasm has always been very strong and with time I proved that I knew what I wanted despite my young age. Of course if I could go back I would start with some collaborators, I was all by myself from the design to the bills and was not easy at all. I paid a lot of mistakes due to my inexperience, but I also learned things you never learn working for others or in a big office.


#2 Who and what has inspired you the most over the years?

Mainly music. The same brand name comes from a recurring refrain in hip hop and funk music. I've always been attracted by music videos. When I was little, instead of watching cartoons like all the other girls, I used to watch music videos, fascinated by the way the emotion of music could be translated into images, a bit like the creative process behind a collection, at the stage where you create an inspirational moodboard.

#3 Which part of the creative process behind a collection do you prefer?

Surely research. For materials, suppliers, factories and fairs. The materials and their details are a fundamental part of a collection.

#4 Your latest collection is inspired by tennis. What is your relationship with sportswear and sport in general?

In my collections I’ve been often inspired by various sports, despite being a very lazy person – except for the fact that I use the bicycle to go around town. I like the fact that in sport you can use technical fabrics depending on the performance, and this thing has always fascinated me. I like to mix classical fabrics with technical ones, which give a fresh and modern image at the same time.

For SS16 I was inspired by tennis. At the time I was doing my research, I was reading "Open" by Agassi and I found out that tennis is a very elegant sport. In addition, many historic Italian brands have made the stylistic history of the sport – see Sergio Tacchini and Fila – and I have drawn inspiration from vintage images of the golden times of these brands, such as the 70s.

I decided to give the collection my stylistic version of it, with clear references to this sport, I used towel and plissé fabrics to recall classic tennis skirts.

#5 Besides being your last collection in chronological order, the SS16 is your farewell to On and On. Which are the reasons that led you to this choice and what do you see in your future?

After 7 years with many satisfactions but also sacrifices, I began to have problems with several merchants. Solid Italian realities and small research shops have ceased their activities, and the situation has gone worse and worse. Big brands have taken over the market and as a result, an independent brand like mine started losing ground and has struggled to hold such a critical situation. This especially considering my choice to produce in Italy to maintain a high quality profile.

Since I started, many things have changed in the world of streetwear. There are only few retailers left who appreciate the concept behind a collection or an innovative fabric. Now they look more at who wears this or that, and having always thought that the dress should express one’s own personality and uniqueness, I didn’t agree with that.

All these business problems, such as collecting payments, paying invoices to suppliers and taking care of distribution had become the 90% of my work and of my days and the latest collections have been affected by this. I felt I wasn’t able to give one hundred percent every day to the creative part of the brand anymore and I didn’t feel satisfied.

I am very positive about my future. Thanks to my experience with On and On I learned how to handle all the stages of the creation of a collection, from the design to the delivery in store. I'm having a good feedback on my new working life, I'm working as a consultant for some brands and doing new experience for music videos and commercials. I will keep my brand on standby for a few seasons and then who knows. For now, I’ve found again the enthusiasm lost in the past and this is important, my motto was and will surely be "The beat goes on, Onandon!" (The Whispers)