WorkinFashion Presents: Atelier Molinari
by Yasmin Jones-Henry
The Age of The Artisan is upon us. Not only in fashion, but in many other sectors across international business, recent world events and a general fatigue at the homogenous, favourless products that mass production has created, have compelled many entrepreneurs to reconsider their stance. Big does not always mean better. Increasingly, many of the conglomerates are attempting a PR overhaul, to refashion themselves as smaller edgier imprints in an attempt to mask their bloated size.
Capitalism, in its natural state – free from corruption and anti-competitive practices, leaves room for others to enter the market and thrive. Anybody who has the skill, ingenuity and dedication should be able to set up their stall and engage in commerce. Capitalism, in its natural state, also provides its own ecosystem. Much like the laws of nature – it’s the survival of the fittest. No bells, no whistles – just a straight up clean fight. The victor emerges on merit and merit alone. Their customer base is one that has been acquired on the basis of trust and loyalty. Their products are superior by virtue of quality as opposed to advertising expenditure.
Sadly, if you look at the current state of the fashion industry – this state of equilibrium and meritocracy does not exist. Flick through any major fashion magazine you will find it saturated with luxury ads. If you dig a little deeper you will find many of the brands featured are actually different faces of the same company. The campaigns are often shot and directed by the same people. The brands are represented by the same agencies and few independent firms outside of this cartel are granted access to big global platforms and their customer base. The door is firmly shut to non members.
I won’t name and shame, because I understand that – it is after all just business. But as a consumer, one can’t help but feel a little cheated. At school we were taught that in economics this was referred to as ‘economies of scale’ whereby a country or a conglomerate consolidates all of its efforts, production and resources into one area in order to keep production costs low. The result is that on a spreadsheet, shareholders will be impressed. On the shop floor, the consumer starts to wonder if they have seen that pair of boots somewhere else.
Individuality, rarity and exclusivity have all been used in the past, to justify the astronomical prices high-end luxury brands charge for their goods. I put that in the past participle, because industry wide, increasingly, many of the luxury brands that are owned by conglomerates cut and manufacture their products on the same factory floor. They share the same dna, the same materials and the same labour force – the only difference is they attach a different label and hope you – the consumer – will not notice.
Is this fair? Is this ethical? I will leave that for you to answer. What I will say is that those who engage in such practices ought to be reminded of the saying ‘You can’t fool all of the people, all of the time’. What these spreadsheet merchants haven’t considered is what will happen to their brands when the consumer realises the extent of this con. Suddenly the prices they charge for their luxury goods can no longer be justified as they are not exclusive, rare or unique.
People want what they can’t have. They pay premiums just for the privilege of being able to boast that they are different to everybody else. Take away that exclusivity, what you have stumbles into the territory of fraud. Many of these conglomerates operate under the premise that if they keep throwing money at expensive advertisements, celebrity endorsements and blockbuster campaigns, the consumer will never notice. But in the end, even the emperor came to the realisation he wasn’t wearing any clothes, so the deceit cannot go on forever.
Trust is such an important factor in all areas of art. We trust the artist in their portrayal. Whatever the statement – we trust and believe there is some truth in it. We trust that the work of art has value. This is what sets the tariff in the world of luxury. Quality and substance, refined materials, the best skilled labour and the pursuit of perfection are pillars upon which this delicate structure is framed. In their pursuit of the bottom line and profit, the major conglomerates have put this fragile industry at risk. The loss of trust, results in the loss of demand, which leads to oversupply and lost cache – something that can never be regained.
But, in the face of disaster, a renaissance is already under way. While the conglomerates and major luxury retailers continue to pat each other on the backs while their Rome burns; their decision to keep their doors firmly shut to outsiders, has brought forth a new community that is beginning to take shape. Independent and entrepreneurial artisans are increasingly rejecting the option to have their labour absorbed into the machine that is big business and are setting up their own small businesses themselves. Developments in e-commerce and pop-up shops have liberated the artisan, enabling them to sell their goods directly to the consumer.
The previous advantages of size and monopoly will soon be rendered obsolete as more and more, people are gravitating towards the ‘bespoke’. The ‘bespoke’ belongs to a realm where competition can only thrive on merit. Neither size nor market share can usurp quality – and it is quality that the consumer is after. When I built WorkinFashion.me, it was built with the beauty of the bespoke in mind. I wanted to create a platform where the artisan and their products could shine. So, while at a recent event hosted by Elliot Rhodes, I was introduced to a designer. Fierce, tenacious, stylish and a bona fide entrepreneur, I couldn’t resist interviewing Anna Molinari for the December edition of “WorkinFashion Presents”… Enjoy!
Introducing Atelier Molinari…
Yasmin: What 3 words would you use to describe the Atelier Molinari?
Anna: Handmade – All my pieces are exclusively handmade. I insist on this as I want to keep the beauty of craftsmanship alive. It also adds uniqueness to every single piece that leaves my workshop. It takes generations to learn such skills and passion to work hours on such small pieces of art. I like to think each piece of jewellery holds a bit of history.
Delicate – I seek inspiration in the lacey patterns I see around me. Whether it is lace, shadows, church windows, moucharabia – I like the contrast of delicate patterns against strong material. I aim to reproduce a gold lace with the classic fine jewellery “mise a jour” technique that I have transformed into my own. This technique aims to open little holes under the set stones to allow the light to shine through and reveal the beautiful colours of natural stones. This lace-effect makes my pieces beautiful from every angle.
Luxury – first of all by using previous material such as 18k gold and natural gems such as diamonds, emeralds, sapphires etc… I believe luxury would come to people’s mind when describing Atelier Molinari. To me luxury is more about holding a handmade piece, a unique piece which is what my brand is all about.
Yasmin: As an independent designer, what would you say are the greatest challenges you face as you build your brand?
Anna: At the beginning I struggled with making myself acknowledged. The jewellery industry is all about trust and it can be a little tricky when no one in your family or your surrounding social circle is in this field. I had to dare to push a lot of doors and ask many questions.
Yasmin: What is your long term vision for Atelier Molinari?
Anna: My dream would be to open a boutique one day that offers bespoke services. I truly enjoy working hand in hand with my clients, creating something special for every one of them and finding the right stone for each of them.
Yasmin: If you could give 1 piece of advice to a student, graduate or new designer what would it be?
Anna: I would give them the same advice I was once given: Never give up, believe in yourself, dream and work hard! [End]
Follow Anna on instagram: @Atelier_Molinari and visit the WorkinFashion//Store to purchase our favourite pieces from her collection.
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