The world of raw denim is vastly populated with products that follow the same blueprint year in, year out. This is by no means a bad thing, but the perennial status of the five-pocket jean has created a tough climate for new brands who want to do something different with raw denim. One brand, however, is up for the challenge. That brand is Hellequino.
Nestled in the historical fashion district of Carpi, Italy, Hellequino is a small, denim-based project conceived by fashion factory owner, Gabriele Marcotullio. With a rich family heritage in fashion-design and endless experience of handling contracts for Italian womenswear labels, Gabriele decided to channel his personal passion for vintage uniforms and selvedge denim through his own brand.
“Fashion production is my family business. My father began his career as a leather goods manufacturer, and then evolved in women fashion design and production. I always been involved in all the stages of production from design to shipping, because in small factories everything must be done. Today I’m head of production of our company. We work as contractors for many women fashion brands, and produce an average of 50,000 garments per year. Hellequino is my first personal project , it’s a small project, focused on quality and style. Quality of the materials, selvedge fabrics, natural fibres, and a good production process, all made in Italy.”
Hellequino products blend the clean, tailored aspects of heritage uniforms with the ruggedness of raw denim workwear, and items like The Jacket and The Vest are prime examples of this formula. The Jacket is an innovative piece that balances the slim cut and curved hem of a suit jacket with the folded pleats and contrasting stitching of an archetypal Levi’s denim jacket. The Vest also cleverly merges the aesthetics of a waistcoat and a traditional workwear vest.
Gabriele’s contacts in the fashion business have held him in good stead when it comes to procuring fabrics. In addition to the deadstock 13oz. Kurabo Mill Japanese selvedge that features in the current Hellequino collection, Gabriele has worked closely with Italy’s own Berto Industria Tessile to source Italian raw denim:
“Selvedge Denim Mills are endangered species, we all know. In Italy we’re incredibly lucky , we have two: One is Candiani and one is Berto. Berto Industria Tessile helped me throughout my organisation process from the very beginning. They have a program for Startups and new Brands called “Berto for young talents” which helps new projects like Hellequino through the many productive obstacles that fashion industry has, like production minimum and overprices. We’re talking 130 years of experience! Try to beat that.”
Hellequino utilizes Berto Industria Tessile’s denim on The Pant. Cut from 11oz. unsanforized deep indigo denim from the Italian mill, these pants are another formal number with the visible sturdiness of raw denim. They’re also finished with Hellequino’s signature sterling silver button, a hallmark that features on all of their buttoned products.
Each garment is made, designed, cut, and sewn by the Hellequino team in Carpi. By reducing and slowing down the production process, Gabriele ensures that Hellequino defies the fast-fashion system, something that has threatened the culture and essence of the Carpi fashion district in recent years.
Products are currently only available for purchase through their web store, a system that allows the brand to create tangible links with their customers. And armed with the hashtags #DONTBUYTRASH and #WEARDIFFERENT, the brand hopes to encourage customers to make purchases with quality and longevity in mind. Gabriele reflects on this:
“#DONTBUYTRASH stands for: “Spend more, buy less (often)” Quality has a cost, and it’s not unachievable. If you go 5 times a season to buy fast fashion clothes, I think you can easily afford a good pair of Jeans, or boots, that will last ten years or more! #WEARDIFFERENT is a little more personal statement, which means, don’t follow the flock when you’re choosing style. Wear what you like, be different, think different, wear different! “
So, what next for Hellequino? It’s safe to say that Gabriele’s project is far from a startup brand, with his factory set up, experience, and links in the fashion industry providing some vital ingredients for a successful brand right off the bat. And if future products are as unique as the brand’s current roster, I’m sure this isn’t the last we will hear from Hellequino.
Check out the rest of the collection at Hellequino.