Succession is a problem faced by almost every luxury fashion house. While French brands are often run by conglomerates, the Italians are all about keeping the business in the family which makes the topic that much more pertinent.
One of the most renowned Italian fashion families is undoubtedly the Missonis. Founded by the first generation, Ottavio and Rosita Missoni in 1953, they rose to fame thanks to their innovative textiles, bold colours and patterns including their iconic zig zag weave. In the early 1990s the business was passed onto the second generation – including two sons and one daughter – Vittorio, Luca and Angela, who became the design director.
Now it’s time for the third generation to come to the fore. It all began when Angela’s daughter Magherita started to design accessories, but now many of her eight cousins have come forth as Missoni ambassadors while others have joined the business.
Cousins Teresa and Ottavio Jr were recently in Hong Kong to open the brand’s new store at Elements shopping mall (with another scheduled to open on On Lan Street in July). While Ottavio recently oversaw the development of Missoni USA, Teresa (who is Angela’s daughter) acts as an ambassador although she also dabbles in design.
We chatted with them about family and taking the brand to a new generation.
You grew up surrounded by the family business – in fact, the factory was right next door to your home. Was there pressure to join?
Teresa: Everyone expects us too but there has been little pressure from our family. I am not officially in the business but Ottavio is. I studied fine arts but I am very much into fashion and design so I often do special projects with my mother.
Ottavio Jr: It’s important we are involved whether it’s officially or not. For me without the family it has no sense of meaning or history.
As the third generation, how do you want to bring Missoni to a new audience?
Ottavio Jr: Our duty is to evolve the history of Missoni – innovate it without losing the roots and seeing where everything started. We need to get the new generation to love the brand and be part of it. It’s not an easy brand and for women who are self confident.
Teresa: Just because the brand has been around for so many years it doesn’t mean its not fun and relevant. Our grandfather used to joke that people used to copy our yarns even as far back as 2,000 years ago. One time my grandmother went to Valley of Kings in Egypt and took some photos of people wearing knits covered with Missoni like patterns. He then used to say they were copying us 3,500 years ago!! We were innovators then and will continue to be going forward.
How would you describe your personal style?
Teresa: I always wear long dresses. I have to be comfortable in general with what I am wearing. I am not a fashion person, so if something doesn’t suit me, no matter how cool it is, I don’t wear it. I like to feel good in what I wear.
Ottavio Jr: I hate suits and ties. I am also very casual much like the brand. I like the more sporty look, especially sneakers.
What is a must-have item from Missoni?
Ottavio Jr: A knitted jacket – the look like they are structured but they are not. We even have double breasted styles.
Teresa: A bathing suit or a knitted long dress. Anyone looks good in it.
What fashion item are you currently obsessed with?
Teresa: I am obsessed with shoes. I love Charlotte Olympia and C.B loafers. Its owned by a friend so we even got her to do a collaboration with the brand which was fantastic.
Ottavio Jr: I love jeans, but I have to say a Missoni knit. All men look good in it.
Do you wear Missoni all the time?
Teresa: We all love wearing Missoni. Its funny because when we take a family portrait we need to make sure we don’t clash. You can imagine what the final picture looks like!