Interview with Angelo D’Agostino… Creative Director at C&A

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A couple of weeks ago, I’ve got to meet Angelo D’Agostino, current creative director at the international brand, C&A. He’s one of the most charming and welcoming people I’ve ever met. Since I was invited to the official launching of his latest collection, I had the opportunity to interview him and asking him about his new life, about Mexico, and how everything has been developing since the moment he decided to be a designer and innovative entrepreneur.

Modalogy: Who is Angelo D’Agostino?

Angelo D’Agostino: “I am a creative director by trade, marketing professional from New York City and now in Mexico for five months, working for C&A, in head of brand marketing. Outside of the industry, I’m an artist. I do all kinds of things, that some of them relate to fashion, some of them don’t. I’ve been involved in music for a long time, in fine arts as well. I’m a big traveler. I love my family and now I’m uncle. I’m really enjoying this big step forward, not only in my personal life, but also in my career. Experiencing a lot of new things here in Mexico, but also kind of in my personal life. For example, my sister just got engaged and my brother and his wife just had a new son. So there are a lot of things happening.”

M: Where are you from?

AD: “I’m originally from San Diego, California. I grew up on the beach. I moved around quite a bit, actually. Lived in Europe for a while. Went to university in France, and then came back to the US, moved back to San Diego, and moved to L.A., and then found myself in New York. I’ve been in New York City for the past six and a half or maybe seven years now, and now Mexico.

“I majored in Fine Arts. I really thought that I was going to get focused on art as a medium (painting, drawing, illustration, theater). I was very involved in all of those things.”

M: What brought you all the way here?

AD: “I was first approached by C&A, almost a year ago. And at the time, living in New York City, I had not ever really considered Mexico. It wasn’t something that I had thought about. When I came down to Mexico, and I was interviewed with C&A, I thought there were really amazing things happening. The new design team, the commercial director, the CEO, there was so much going on. When they asked me to if I would consider coming down here, it was an opportunity I couldn’t hop off.”

M: Your ultimate goal as a designer…

AD: “I think my goal is really to make fashion fun again. I think that sometimes in this business, people take themselves and the idea of fashion really seriously. In fashion, I think that just like art, is a form of self-expression. People should feel really comfortable, happy and confident in what they wear and how they dress. To me is about making it fun, and acceptable. Everyone can have those really honest moments, and I want to show that to people again. You should have fun with fashion, because it is the ultimate self-expression. What you wear everyday, it can change your mood, it can change how you speak and interact with people. It is a really powerful medium.”

M: Your greatest challenge until today…

AD: “I had my own business for a while, where I was working with different brands, and sometimes you have these amazing ideas, and you want to try to embrace change within a company or organization, but sometimes people are really scared of change. So, my biggest challenge is to present it to themselves, and where I have been able to see creatively a vision for a company or business that I didn’t get to execute or I didn’t get to do, for whatever reason. But, I’ve been pretty lucky and I’ve had some really amazing mentors throughout my career that had taught me a lot, not only about this business, but how to get your ideas out there and wait to see people for them to really understand.”

M: How would you describe the profile of the customer wearing C&A?

AD: “I think C&A is about approachable fashion. I think is about being comfortable, and confidant, also having the spirit of youth as well of opportunity. I see our customer every day. I see them walking on the streets, I see them in the stores, and talk to them when I can (in my “Spanglish”). What I love about our C&A customer is the fact that there’s a real or sort of a need for good quality merchandise. Good quality clothes that are fashionable. I don’t think our customer is a fashion victim, but a fashionable person. Those two profiles are very different. And there’s a need for it, specially now with the team that we have placed. Among designers, directors and others, we’re starting to see that change.

“That’s why this project (the new campaign) is a big thing, I recognized it. That’s why I wanted everyone to come and experiencing it. Because I feel like sometimes, people get to see advertising and say, “ok, something’s happening.” But they don’t get to see it.”

M: Why Mexico and not other place?

AD: “I was very comfortable in New York City, but I came here because I saw a huge opportunity and I also saw a brand that is a really good brand (international brand) that has so much, even ethically. This company believes in sustainability. There are big components of fair work trade, ethical sourcing, and garments and textiles. That means a lot to me as a professional, but it also means a lot to the customer. For example, all of the children’s clothing is made out of organic cotton.

” You think that a lot of companies don’t do this, but C&A does. I think that to be a part of that story and be a part 173 years of tradition is really cool. C&A was the first retailer ever to offer ready-to-wear. It’s a long history. But again, this could be, or what I love about Mexico right now, and I’ve said this before, is that I feel that the world is coming to Mexico. I feel things are really happening, not only in the sense of the economy, but also the market place is opened up. And it’s different that it used to be, even from five years ago.”

M: What’s your favorite thing about Mexico?

AD: “I know it sounds funny, but I think that the best part about Mexico is the people. Growing up in San Diego, very close to Mexico, I was pretty lucky to learn a lot about the culture when I was a kid. But to be here as an adult, and to live here, is definitely, part of an amazing experience. I love that people is so warm, I love that you get such a mix of geography. You can go to the beach in one hour, you can go to the dessert, I mean, everything is here. Also, I love the history. I’m really big on this, wherever I’m around. Right now, I’m living in Guadalajara, and it’s really interesting to walk through the old part of the city and imagine what it looked like 200 years ago. I really love the fact that I’m in a country that really has (that is also so close to the US), such an older, richly and colorful culture.

M: Anything else…

AD: “Some of the complications I have about the customers, is about really being able to take a couple of risks in a fashion sense. What I love about the Mexican people is about how they dress, and the glamour I see everyday is elevated. Is much different than anywhere else I’ve ever lived. I challenge the people to take a couple of risks, because they already have the other part down. Also, saying that fashion is fun, and that it is meant to be enjoyed. It is sort of those easy ways to change your attitude and your mood just by putting different shoes or a hat.

“I grew up in a very strong Italian emigrant family, and I remember that my grandmother used to say something really special. You know how during these special days, or holidays how your parents say to you that the nice clothes are only meant to be worn during these special occasions? My grandmother used to say that you’d never know what could happen, anytime, so enjoy and wear it. Sometimes, for example, I buy a little thing for myself. I remember that. I remember my grandmother saying “you know what? Wear it and wear it well, be happy and enjoy it!” So, fashion being a form of self-expression, I think people can take risks, and they can also feel good about it.

“Somebody like C&A, when they shop in the store, you can feel good about the fact that it is a good-quality product that comes in good places. We’re not a thrift store, and if we were we do our best to try to find those things out and get rid of them. It is a company that really believes in its customer and gives a lot to the community.”

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