Aspesi’s Lawrence Steele on Bringing the Cult Brand to a Wider Audience

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Lawrence Steele. Max Vadukul.

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When Lawrence Steele was named creative director at Aspesi in November, it was a home-coming of sorts. The American designer consulted for the Milan-based label for 13 years before departing in March 2017 to join Marni as associate creative director. Now, he’s been tasked with introducing the cult label founded in 1969 by Alberto Aspesi to a new global audience, while remaining true to its distinctive identity and ethos which Steele says are suited for this moment of reflection and reset.

On this week’s episode of The BoF Podcast, Lawrence Steele speaks with editor-at-large Tim Blanks as he debuts his first collection for Aspesi:

  • Steele is looking to technology to help Aspesi get big international traction, while retaining its niche insider vibe. The brand debuted on WeChat and Weibo in April, and expects to launch on Tmall in September. “I think today with the world, how it’s opened up so vastly through technology, there’s something quaint about [Aspesi] being a small brand, but there’s something very exciting about taking the values of the brand out into the world.”

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  • When it comes to fashion, retaining an authentic brand identity can’t mean standing still; it’s a constant balance to honour traditions and remain relevant. “It’s very easy if you step back and you think about the long run to see what lasts and to gauge what’s happening,” said Steele. “But you have to have the culture of being able to look at it from above and not being caught up in the world of what fashion really is, which is change, because fashion by nature is change, it’s the fashion of the moment.”

  • Steele sees the pandemic as an opportunity to reset the fashion industry and do away with wasteful season cycles and excessive production. “My hope is that what we draw from this is that we have found other creative ways of communicating, of reaching each other, of creating through the technology that was around us all along.”

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