Italian Job

On May 16, fashion lovers are in for a special treat. Saks Fifth Avenue and Oklahoma Magazine welcome the venerable Italian fashion house of Les Copains for an exclusive showing of its Fall 2013 collection. Oklahoma Magazine caught up with the brand’s North American CEO to discuss Les Copains’ longevity and timeless appeal in a rapidly changing market.

 

Les Copains recently released its elegant Fall 2013 fashion line. The line drew inspiration from the New York skyline and is filled with signature knitwear and apparel that will be worn by women in Oklahoma and around the globe.

The Italian fashion company has come a long way since its creation in the late ‘50s. The founder of the brand, Mario Bandiera, began the company with a simple six-stitch sweater. Over the years, the company took baby steps toward new looks and trends and, as a result, Les Copains now sits elegantly atop the industry with various cashmere head-to-toe designs.

Additionally, the global fashion industry has grown just as Les Copains has throughout the decades. Fashion styles and trends are continually changing, and the fast-pace nature of the industry can cause leading companies to shift from a steady strut to an all-out sprint just to keep up.

This speed often threatens to compromise the individuality of a particular fashion brand.

In addition to speed, the global fashion market contributes to the changes in design that are necessary for a global company to stay relevant in each region.

“What one sells in Chicago can be significantly different from what is sold in Tulsa,” says Paolo Torello-Viera, CEO of the North American branch of Les Copains. “At the same time, you have to have this global product because with the global customer, they could be in Tulsa today, New York tomorrow and Shanghai in three days.”

Nevertheless, Les Copains is confident that it will be consistent with their stylistic values moving forward.

Torello-Viera knows what it takes to advance in the fashion industry, while still remaining true to form. He was born into a family that has been involved in fashion for generations, and from a young age he knew that fashion was what he wanted to do with his life. He ran his own knitwear company and held various leadership positions throughout the industry prior to becoming CEO of the North American branch of Les Copains in 2011.

Torello-Viera is also an avid runner, and he compares staying atop the fashion industry to competing in a race. He also recognizes that the industry is give and take.

“I strongly believe that learning and contributing are always hand and hand [in fashion],” says Torello-Viera.

Ultimately, Les Copains’ biggest inspiration is the people. The company’s knitwear emphasis allows it to focus on providing the customers comfort and practicality, along with stylish designs.

“Fashion has always been a part of man’s history. We have always wanted to dress well and look good,” says Torello-Viera. Still, Torello-Viera and Les Copains recognize that true style and fashion transcend mere apparel.

“You can wear whatever you like. As long as you feel [comfortable] and empowered, you’re going to look stunning,” says Torello-Viera.