Photo by Mark Cho / Text by Agyesh Madan / Mark Cho
What are you wearing?
- Rollable felt hat in cement (Stòffa) - http://stoffa.co/collections/hats/products/hat-rabbit-felt-rollable-cement
- Cashmere Silk Jacquard Scarf (Stòffa) - http://stoffa.co/collections/scarves/products/woven-scarf-double-sided-reverse-pin-dot-pearl-grey
- 002 flight jacket in sand suede (Stòffa) - http://stoffa.co/collections/outerwear/products/outerwear-002-flight-jacket
- white pique polo (unknown)
- Double pleated trousers in sand peached cotton (Stòffa) - http://stoffa.co/collections/trousers/products/trousers-made-to-measures
- Belgian Shoes - http://www.belgianshoes.com/mrcasual.html
Great design cannot come from nothing. An interesting design can come on a whim, but a great design require focus and perseverance, as if chiseling an enormous stone into a a tiny but brilliant object. Agyesh understands this better than most. He has been on a long journey, constantly learning new skills and developing new ideas without pause, and I always look forward to the things he has designed. Although his designs are new, they emerge fully formed, with a great deal of thought put into them. I particularly admire his dedication to colour and colour theory. which he applies carefully and respectfully. Given his background, which he explains in the interview, I think he is an exemplar of art and science.
1. Can you talk about your path into the clothing industry and where you are now?
I think my journey is simple. I started off as computer engineer focusing on web applications where through my experience at an e-commerce startup, I discovered my passion for the clothing industry and more so a fascination with production. I followed that up with a stint at Parsons, Newschool for design where I focussed on textile and product development. During my time there I was fortunate to discover the neapolitan brand ISAIA Napoli which I joined in the latter half of 2010. I spent four years there starting in marketing and product development in the US and then moving to Italy to serve as the brand’s Director of Product Development. It was in Italy under the mentorship of Leonardo Genova ( the head of all product development at ISAIA ), that I furthered my love for textiles and found the idea of responsible production.
Last year, I founded Stòffa where we are focussed on creating thoughtfully designed products through a continuous exploration of production. I really wanted to focus all our energy in building innovative, robust products and production; and the only way to do it was one product category at a time. Currently, we offer a series of accessories which include our covetable hats and scarves along with made-to-measure outerwear and trousers.
2. You place a lot of emphasis on focused, considered combinations of colour. Could you suggest some interesting reading or references?
Colour is an integral part of my life. I derive an irreplaceable joy from experiencing harmony through the use of colour. I think most people interested in this field are aware of Josef Albers’ Interaction of Color which presented his theory that colors were governed by an internal and deceptive logic. What most people might not know about is the interactive app created by Yale University, based on the aforementioned book. It is available for download on the app store and I highly recommend all kids and adults to download and interact with it. It is beautifully executed and truly uses the power of the technology platform to elevate an already solid read.
3. Stoffa, your latest project, has been growing in an unusual way. You started with hats but moved onto leather jackets and trousers. Was there any reason for this progression?
Stòffa was created on the fundamental principal of creating thoughtfully designed products that are produced in a responsible manner. To that effect, all our products are made in production units where we have close control over every step; from raw materials to finishing to packaging. Furthermore, we wear-test everything we make for at least a year before releasing it. This philosophy has dictated our direction thus far as we focus on one production category at a time to slowly create a collection of products that are thoughtfully designed, tested and then produced in a very responsible manner.
4. You spent a formative period at Isaia, which included making regular visits to Japan. Do you have any thoughts on the differences between the two markets?
Japan was amazing for I observed a certain innate dedication in people to thoroughly research and explore before purchasing the right item or experience for them. As a product developer it was really fulfilling to see the passion in the customers as they enjoyed learning about every step of how the product was made and really respected the maker’s vision.
On the other hand, in the US there is a certain sense of nonchalance or idea of enjoyment when it comes to ones clothes. I find that very geniune, as I have always believed that clothes are meant to be really worn and worn hard.
As a product developer, I felt that it is our responsibility to marry the two. Be really thoughtful about every element of our product while designing it but also present them as items to be worn, enjoyed and lived in with little care.