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Super Stylers: Teresa and Ottavio Missoni

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The Missoni story is one that begins with a lot of premium Italian wool and a whole heap of creativity. The zigzag pattern that many fashionistas have come to covet has been a huge high-end hit and the source of inspiration for a multitude of high street havens. We’re huge fans of the Italian-based brand at Sassy HQ, especially Teresa Missoni who is the force behind many creative projects that Missoni takes part in… her brother Ottavio is also a cutie who loves motorbikes, so needless to say he’s a huge hit in the office too! Here’s what the third generation Missoni cousins discussed while they were in Hong Kong to launch their Central store in HK!

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You live in Italy very close to Milan, what are some hot spots that you love?
Teresa: My favourite place in the world has got to be my grandmother’s garden; it’s the most beautiful place. My siblings or cousins are always there and it’s always warm and welcoming. There’s also a mountain that I love near Vereza called Sacramont, and if you stand at the very top, you can see seven lakes including Lake Como. It has special vibes for me. I like the countryside but need to live near our factory in Milan, so I make do with a walk to a nearby park every morning and make sure to get out of the city as much as I can. I get a lot of joy from small things.

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Ottavio: I’m similar to Teresa, as soon as I land in Italy, I call my grandmother straight away to tell her I’m coming over. We’re very close and there really is nothing quite like family. It’s funny because I’ll call my grandmother and Teresa will call her too, and then our siblings and cousins are all calling each other, and at the end of the day we all end up in the one spot. I haven’t seen my grandmother in three weeks and I’m home for two days when I go back, so I’ll be going over to her place straight away.

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Missoni and Italy are two words always found in the same sentence. How has the Italian way of life influenced the brand over the years?
T: Italy is everything to Missoni; it represents our culture, our family and our heritage. The way we dress, socialise and promote the brand is centred on the Italian way of life. The most important thing about the ‘Made in Italy’ factor has to be our manufacturing because everything really is made in Italy. Nowadays it’s possible to have a ‘Made in Italy’ tag on garments when only 30% of the goods have really been created there, which is a shame. The only part of our design that we occasionally outsource is embroidery, because to be frank, the best embroidery is found in India, so we source from there.

O: In Italy family comes first and that’s a really big deal to us; when we go home we spend time with our relatives. Italy has influenced every single thing that has happened within Missoni throughout the years; we live and breathe Italy every day. We’re also ambassadors of Italy and we try to show the world a little slice of the country. There’s also a sense of respect, in the sense that we’re very respectful about everything that we have inherited and will do everything we can to protect it and make it better than ever.

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Any Hong Kong highlights during your time here?

O: I was here eight years ago but only for 24-hours, so technically this is my first time in Hong Kong. I went to Aberdeen Street Social in Central last night for a little while to celebrate Art Basel, and the view from the W Hotel is amazing, but apart from that I haven’t seen much. I need to come back, and with two stores here I’ll definitely be returning. It’s amazing and I love the city, I just wish I had more time to really explore.

T: We went to Duddell’s last night, which was gorgeous and the crowd was buzzing. We’re also checking out Ozone tomorrow at the top of the Ritz for a photo shoot. Honestly, the view from the hotel is fabulous and Elements Mall is huge, but I haven’t ventured much further than that because we’ve been so busy during our flying visit to Hong Kong!

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What’s the one Missoni item every Sassy Girl should own?
O: For women, definitely the Missoni signature bikini (available here!). It’s so iconic and relatively affordable so it’s well worth purchasing as it will last a lifetime… and it looks great on the beach! I like that our younger customers can purchase it too. For men, the knitwear jackets are amazing because you don’t have to iron them, and last but not least, the patchwork jacket is a must for any Missoni lover.

T: I definitely agree about the bikini, but my other all-time favourite piece is the leopard print dress restored from our archives to celebrate 60 years of Missoni. It’s truly stunning and represents a perfect mix of old and new which is exactly what our brand’s about.

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Women love to shop in Hong Kong. Are you planning on opening up a second store on Hong Kong side for your fans over there?
O: Yes! We’re opening up a new store in Central on On Lan Street, as it’s a prime spot for shoppers. I think it’s going to attract totally different customers to our Elements store in Kowloon, which will be interesting to see (see all Hong Kong Missoni stores here).

T: It’s funny, in other cities around the world women will travel quite far to get to their favourite shop, but in Hong Kong it’s a bit different. People on Hong Kong side don’t come over to Kowloon to shop and vice versa, it’s nearly as if everyone stays on their own turf. Because of the shopping pattern here, it makes perfect sense to open up a store right in the middle of Central that’s right on the street as opposed to in a shopping mall. The store design is also gorgeous and very true to the brand’s DNA, so it’s exciting!

DSCF5760webMissoni is known for knitwear, a fabric not really known for being ‘cool’. How did Missoni make knitwear fashionable?
T: I should tell you how Missoni started first. My grandfather was an athlete and when he finished his career he bought a whole lot of fabric with a friend and created tracksuits for the Italian Olympic team. He came home with two sewing machines and lots of fabric and while he was busy my grandmother started experimenting. Initially she started out creating throws and interior fabric for cushions and things, which she has funnily enough gone back to doing today. It was only during the war when the market changed that she began to make nightgowns and dressing gowns. She used to read every newspaper she could get her hands on and read every article on style over and over again which is how her passion for fashion developed. She then began designing dresses using the fabric my grandfather had, which launched the Missoni signature style.

With so many relatives contributing to the company, do things ever get a bit heated or are you one happy family?
O: There are nine grandchildren and we all voice our opinions and bring a different element to the business. I feel that we help represent the set of values the company holds dear, which is important. It’s easy for fashion brands to get lost and that’s something that won’t happen to Missoni thanks to our strong DNA and heritage.

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Missoni has over 87,000 followers on Instagram, how important is social media to a fashion business?
T: We have a really wonderful following on Instagram and we also have an online newspaper, which is going great. I’m not very technological but I’m hoping to get more into it soon.

Tips and tricks for running a global business?
O: Our business is global but it’s a family one which we can never forget. The most important thing is to remember where we’ve come from and honouring what our grandparents did. We try to evolve the Missoni style without losing any important traditions.

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Teresa you’re heavily involved in the special projects section of the company, what have been some project highlights?
T: I really loved the Missoni Fiat 500 car and a pair of angel wings that my Grandfather asked me to do. There are so many that I forget, but the good thing is that I get to work on everything from cars to suits, window displays to sculptures and everything else you can think of. I had to create Missoni flowers from our signature textiles for a store window and most recently, a shop in Italy, Luisaviaroma, asked me to create a special football for them, so that’s a lot of fun too!

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Do you have many hobbies outside of fashion?
T: The simple things like spending time with my family and going to Plastic, my favourite club in Milan. It’s very creative and all of the designers and artists hang out there. It’s just mind blowing, you have to go if you’re in Milan! I love going to flea markets too and enjoying the things I used to take for granted. Shopping is a big hobby of mine and I spend time with friends whenever I can.

O: I’m not like Teresa, I don’t like going clubbing and I always try to avoid the city because I prefer the country. I surf in the summer and motorbike throughout the year. When I’m not working, I chill out with my friends who I don’t get to see a lot when I travel.

Missoni
, Shop 2080, 2/F, Elements, 1 Austin Road West, Kowloon, Hong Kong, 2682 0389

Missoni’s brand new Central store will be opening at the end of June here!:

Missoni
, 2 On Lan Street, G/F, Central, Hong Kong, 2682 0329

All photos in this article above were taken by the hugely talented Sabrina Sikora of Sabrina Sikora Photography – get in touch with her at sabrinasikora@gmail.com.

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