Business

Ladybrille® Fashion Business With . . . Fashion Designer Pierre Antoine Vettorello #Africanfashion

In 2010, Bruxelles-based designer Pierre Antoine Vettorello graduated from the Fashion Department of the Royal Antwerp Academy of Fine Arts in Belgium with one dream in mind – to storm into and make it big in the global fashion industry. In 2011 he launched his self-titled label and has already shown his collections at major fashion shows in Paris, New York and the Netherlands. That same year, Vettorello won the best innovative designs award at Arise Magazine Fashion week, Lagos.

Deeply influenced by his French-Ivorian roots, Vettorello ‘s exquisite handmade garments are imbued with a unique ethnic mythology, and characterized by the use of exotic natural materials traditionally used in arts and crafts. In particular, his Spring/Summer 2013 collection references an unexpected mélange of African and Celtic cultures, including Bassari headpieces from Senegal, and the Kuba textiles from Congo which are translated into knitwear. A constant strength in Vettorello ‘s collections are his artisanal hats and the intricate way that he combines body jewelry with garments, using techniques such as hand-knitting, beading, hand-painted fabrics and embroidery featuring glass, feathers, wood and precious stones. According to Vettorello, every piece in his collection is produced with the particular goal of celebrating feminine power which he achieves through daring cuts and bold use of color and pattern.

Pierre Antoine Vettorello will present his Spring/Summer 2013 collection in Paris in September 2012. Ladybrille sat down with Vettorello to discuss the business of fashion. Enjoy. 

LADYBRILLEmag.com: (Hi Pierre) Tell us, briefly, how and why you decided to strike out on your own as a fashion entrepreneur?
Pierre: I trained at a Fashion School that makes you think like an entrepreneur; a school that encourages you to be independent, to think for yourself. Also, I was very interested in understanding the process of building my own company, being involved with every aspect – from design to production, administration and sales.

LADYBRILLEmag.com:(That is quite unique that you were that tuned into the business side right away. Let’s get more into it.) Describe the exact products and services you provide?
Pierre: We provide high-end women’s clothing and accessories for high fashion and textile lovers.

LADYBRILLEmag.com: What is the core mission of your business?
Pierre: Providing the best quality, creativity and innovation without any boundaries.

LADYBRILLEmag.com: (What does that translate to in terms of where you see your business in the nearest future?) What clearly defined business goals do you have for your brand within the next two years?
Pierre: Our strategy is to develop as many sales points as possible; we hope to get to Nigeria very soon.

LADYBRILLEmag.com: (Nigeria is a very important market. Actually, that makes for a smooth transition into the next question). For your products/services, what is the distribution system you have in place to make sure customers get your products when and where they want it?
Pierre: We are present in different multi-label stores. However, depending on the particular product, we also accept personal tailored orders.

LADYBRILLEmag.com: What has been your biggest business success to date?
Pierre: Every happy and satisfied customer is part of our big success story.

LADYBRILLEmag.com: What has been your biggest business mistake so far?
Pierre: Mistakes are forgotten as soon as we solve them, so we don’t focus on mistakes but rather, the lessons learned.

LADYBRILLEmag.com: (Very well.) As a business, what is the customer experience you want each customer to take away every time they experience your fashion brand?
Pierre: Wearing our designs is a great opportunity to experience well-made clothes and contemporary shapes. For us, the real experience of luxury lies in a product which has been developed with research and creativity. Our product is a statement.

LADYBRILLEmag.com: What kind of challenges do you face when it comes to sourcing of materials for your fashion business?
Pierre: It’s a very interesting question because we are sourcing our textiles in Europe, where you would think you can find everything. That is far from true because we face challenges of finding natural materials (horse hair, shells and natural fibers, etc.) and finding skilled people for handcrafted works. I think that it would be great to work part-time in Africa where we can find some really refined textiles and traditions.

LADYBRILLEmag.com: (It might seem daunting but if that is your goal, you should consider having a small manufacturing unit in Africa). What do you believe are the key qualities of a brilliant (Ladybrille) entrepreneur?
Pierre: I believe a good entrepreneur should have faith and have a good balance in everything.

LADYBRILLEmag.com: Can you share with our audience some few tips on financial management of a fashion business?
Pierre: Right now, I don’t have any “wow” tips since I’m still in the early stage of my business. However, my business experiences so far have taught me to be patient and not make financial decisions in a haste. Also, I always try to be well prepared in advance.

LADYBRILLEmag.com: (Those are very important tips. Let’s talk new media and technology!) How have you been able to integrate new technologies into your business to make it successful?
Pierre: Innovation is really important to me, so for this SS13 collection I worked with the textile museum of Tilburg in Holland to develop some Jacquard knits made by a computerized knitting machine. My goal was to translate some Kuba textiles from Africa into knits. For my communication I use Facebook and Twitter a lot! I really believe in the power of social media.

LADYBRILLEmag.com: In your opinion, why do fashion businesses, especially African fashion businesses, fail?
Pierre: I don’t think African fashion businesses fail more than western ones. In fact, I think that in this time of recession, while some western fashion businesses have suffered, African fashion businesses have taken advantage and are getting more aware of the needs of the growing African fashion market and are also more trying to get to other markets (USA, Europe and Asia) with fresh products.

LADYBRILLEmag.com: What do you look for when you hire employees?
Pierre: Creativity, modesty and a desire for personal achievement.

LADYBRILLEmag.com: What drives you as a business owner?
Pierre: Making tomorrow even better!

LADYBRILLEmag.com: What makes you get up to do what you do everyday instead of throwing in the towel and getting a 9-5?
Pierre: Passion! I love what I do, I love designing amazing clothes and my passion fuels me.

To view Pierre Antoine Vettorello’s New York Fashion Week September 2011 Runway collection, click here. For more of his runway designs, click  here.

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The “Ladybrille® Fashion Business With . . .” is a feature on Ladybrille® Magazine that is focused on entrepreneurs in Africa’s fashion industry, with a heavy emphasis on fashion designers. This feature highlights business principles, business practices, follows the money, discusses the challenges faced by fashion startups as well as offers pragmatic tips that should help stir the Ladybrille fashion entrepreneur towards success. If you would like to be featured, send an email to our Associate Editor at (associateeditor@ladybrille.com), indicate the kind of fashion business you operate and what you intend to share with our audience that you feel will be beneficial to them.

~Copyright 2012 Ladybrille Magazine. All Rights Reserved.

Courtesy photos

Elfonnie Inokon Anusionwu

Elfonnie Inokon Anusionwu is a Ladybrille Woman Alumna. She is also an engineer and fashion entrepreneur. Elfonnie cites her passion for Africa and particularly her country Nigeria as the basis for why she writes. She believes that it is only through journalism that Africans can change the world’s perspective about who they really are. Follow Elfonnie on twitter at @elfonnie.

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