Opening Ceremony’s stamp of approval started the snowball-effect that led to them meeting their investors, which Rizzo said allowed them to “ work more calmly and set new goals.” These new goals included a focus on its flagship store, based in Milan’s creative hub and away from most of the city's traditional fashion store locations. The space first functioned as a store/workspace, evolving over time into a full store as the team and the brand’s offerings grew.
The offerings themselves evolved in real time while never losing focus of the real wardrobe focus that encapsulated the brand’s ethos. Speaking to
, Sunnei said that “Our customer is much more interested in the quality of fabrics and textiles than seasonal trends. We want him—and now her—to feel at the best version of themselves, with a relaxed yet defined look. Their attitude, combined with their sophisticated wardrobe, is what makes them really unique.” Want Apothecary
In action, this is a focus on clothes that easily slot into someone’s existing look rather than requiring them to alter their entire wardrobe, think
oversized polos, an everlasting love affair with denim—a staple of the brand since its inception—and a playful touch seen in its “I hate fashion” tees. The silhouette is oversized and relaxed, as if the film Kids had a baby who emigrated to Italy and grew up watching classic Levi’s commercials. It’s a reliably malleable aesthetic that’ll allow the brand to evolve without taking huge shifts season upon season, a necessary evil to allow brands to create something new without betraying the brand DNA.
Speaking of newness, if there’s been one thing in Sunnei’s lifespan more consistent than its love for denim, it’s being called a new designer. Despite being founded in 2015—an eternity in fashion dog years—its placement in the relatively staid city of Milan means that the brand will be forever young. If anything, this speaks to the glacial pace of the Milan scene when it comes to new brands. If Sunnei were in Paris or New York, they’d be seen as part of the furniture. In London, the relentless pace of new brands means they’d likely be seen as one of the old guard.
Meanwhile, Sunnei is still being recommended to
Tim Blanks as a new name to watch in 2020. As far as problems go, in the fickle world of fashion, being constantly seen as new is probably the best thing you can wish for.
But the brand isn’t resting on the fact that it can be reliably referred to as an emerging designer for the next few years at least. Like everyone, it’s been forced to react to the shift to a digital fashion week, and did so with an uncanny valley CGI show—called “Canvas” after the fabric used throughout the range.
The lookbook invited 30 retailers to create looks from the Spring/Summer 2021 collection, allowing buyers to change the fit, shape, fabric and stripe type of the clothes into their own unique garments. Speaking to
, the idea reminded Rizzo of his youth getting his shirts lightly customized by having them initialled and the buttons changed, noting that “It was a simple idea crossed with our virtual aesthetic.” Business of Fashion and Tim Blanks
It should come as no surprise that Sunnei would have a novel take on the digital fashion week as the brand had cultivated a reputation for it’s eye-catching shows. It’s Spring/Summer 2020 collection, for instance, took place in the brand’s open air gallery,
Bianco Sunnei, which spanned 4,000 square feet and, bucking the city's love for opulence, underneath a motorway. Compare this to Gucci’s Spring/Summer 2020 show that saw four conveyor belts transporting models across a blindingly white room and it’s easy to see why Sunnei’s approach attracts so much attention as bright new things.
For what it’s worth, Sunnei haven’t always been enamoured with the newness tag, noting in an interview that, “the real problem is that in Italy they instantly label you as an ‘emerging designer, which means nothing.” But while they aren’t a new brand, the pair are constantly bringing new ideas to the table in terms of subtle upgrades to their clothing or swimming against the tide in their adopted home city. It’s an approach that, perhaps to their chagrin, will see them feted as a new name for years to come.