Rising star Marcelo Burlon shines in Milan
It was in an enormous space decked out in blue and black carpet and featuring a giant disco ball that Marcelo Burlon County of Milan's latest menswear collection was shown. Perhaps it was a reference to Burlon's past as a DJ? In any case, the streetwear label's designer could not have chosen a better occasion to celebrate his status as a rising star and unveil his new brand image.
The deep blue chosen for the show's backdrop corresponded to the brand's new corporate identity, thought up by design agency Bureau Borsche. The firm also redesigned the label's logo, distorting its symbolic cross into an approximation of houndstooth, a pattern that was repeated as a psychedelic leitfmotif throughout this collection for Fall/Winter 2020-21.
The pattern appeared everywhere, on coats, jackets, throws, jumpers, suits and accessories, creating a kind of optical illusion. The combination of black and Klein blue was also a recurring theme, seen, for example, on a crystal-embroidered jacket. Overall the wardrobe alternated sportier looks with loose, comfortable trousers, jackets, shorts and sweaters, but also featured military-inspired pieces in nylon and more formal silhouettes, suits and coats which nonetheless had a relatively relaxed feel to them – Burlon's dive into soft tailoring.
"I started with t-shirts and now I'm offering real tailoring with more dressy costumes. My streetwear has become more classic. I set out in this new direction last season because I wanted to go more high-end. But it's in this second collection that you can really see the difference," explained the 42-year-old designer to FashionNetwork.com.
For this collection, Burlon teamed up with Swarovski for his embellishments, Caterpillar for his sneakers, Retrosuperfuture for eyewear and designer Chrishabana for jewellery.
Fresh from a trip back to his native Patagonia, Burlon was beaming, clearly savouring his success. Born to an Italian father and a Lebanese mother, the designer left Argentina when he was still a child and moved to Italy with his parents. At 14 he was working as a manual labourer but, by night, he was also taking his first steps into the club circuit.
From Northern Italy's Emilia-Romagna Riviera, Burlon moved to Milan in 1998, where he started organising events for big-name fashion labels, while also pursuing his career as a DJ. Since then, he has gradually shifted his focus into the world of fashion, launching his own brand in 2012 with partners Davide De Giglio and Claudio Antonioli.
In 2016 the trio went on to found New Guards Group (NGG), a company that has become a major player in the streetwear sector, boasting a portfolio that includes some of the hottest brands of the moment, from Off-White to Palm Angels, Alanui and Heron Preston. Burlon owned 7% of the holding company, which was sold to José Neves' e-commerce platform Farfetch for $675 million last year, and which has just announced that it has purchased cult American label Opening Ceremony.
"I'm now one of the group's 'employees.' I'm paid by NGG as the creative director of Marcelo Burlon and I receive royalties from the sales of the brand, which is managed through a licensing deal with the group," revealed the designer. His brand is currently distributed by some 280 retailers around the world, as well as six company-managed monobrand boutiques, two of which are in Hong Kong, while the rest are located in Macau, Manilla, Dubai and Singapore. Its major markets are Italy, Asia – principally China – and the United States.
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