Halston, Gucci... Fiorucci!
Why are we beyond excited about the revival of the Fiorucci brand? Because, as heritage brands go, Fiorucci is like the holy grail. In its heyday in the 1970s and 1980s, it completely captured – and often led – the spirit of the times. Its founder, Elio Fiorucci, who died in 2015, was a retail visionary, the first to do licensing, glasses, and fragrance. The shops, from its birthplace Milan, to New York, London and LA, were like playgrounds for anyone interested in fashion, graphics, art, music, pop culture in general. And of course, jeans.
Fiorucci Poster, 1974
Fiorucci, who founded the brand in 1967, is said to have been inspired by seeing girls in Ibiza on the beach in wet jeans and developed stretch denim with Dupont. And it was its sassy, unashamed sexiness (if it wasn’t stretch denim, it was shiny PVC) that made its name.
No one is more excited about the revival of this brand so fabulous it is name checked by Sister Sledge in their disco-hit He’s the Greatest Dancer, than its new owner Stephen Schaffer. Schaffer and his ex-wife and business partner Janie Schaffer acquired the brand 18 months ago from the Japanese denim company Edwin.
Elio Fiorucci in his New York store, circa 1980s
As retailers, Fiorucci was the ultimate fashion destination. When the couple founded the underwear chain Knickerbox in the 1980s, they would go there for inspiration, trying to capture the espresso energy of the store with its unique fashion, lifestyle, music, political statements, Disney characters, celebrity, and graphic ephemera. “We all love heritage brands,” said Schaffer when we met in the Fiorucci HQ in Brewer Street in Soho (the location of the London store when it opens in August this year). “There are very few authentic heritage brands. It deserves its place in history and we hope we can do it justice. Everything we do, we think – How would Elio do it today?”
So they took the archive jeans and recut them for a more contemporary fit. Everything is made in Italy using Italian denim, and even by some of the same pattern cutters who worked for Fiorucci 40 years ago. “They’ve done all our shapes for us,” said Schaffer. In a market that is crowded with brands like Acne, Frame, and J Brand, Schaffer believes his brand is doing things differently. “It fills a gap. Fiorucci is about colour so we have amazing coloured denim, all garment dyed. But it’s still incredibly relevant. It’s a very optimistic brand.”
Unfinished poster artwork, Date unknown
We all need a bit of light at the end of the tunnel right now and if you buy a piece of Fiorucci denim (available in UK exclusively at Selfridges) like the high rise Edie flare recut for today’s Fiorucci girl, or the Curtis boyfriend-fit (it’s ok, you don’t need buns of steel to wear Fiorucci mark two) or a boiler suit, you will get the added treat of an original Fiorucci sticker. You will also be offered complimentary customisation including name embroidery as well as an addition of patches with original 1984 Panini designs available to buy and add to your denim.
The brand printed hundreds of different sticker designs by its incredible circle of designers and artists – from Maripol and Antonio Lopez to Twiggy and Jerry Hall. And when the Schaffers discovered the archive in a warehouse in Milan, they found sheets of stickers alongside boxes of dusty deadstock and vintage denim. These stickers are now highly collectable and will be given away with each purchase as a piece of Fiorucci history.
Fiorucci ‘Equipe’ bomber jacket, circa 1980s and Fiorucci Equipe bomber jacket (£200) available from Selfridges
The prize piece was in the last box they opened – a pair of jeans hand painted by Keith Haring from when Fiorucci invited the artist to paint the Milan store. It’s a one off and beyond value. For a heritage brand like this, it is the stuff of dreams. But Schaffer is keen to stress that it’s not all about nostalgia. The new Fiorucci is aimed at the 20 somethings of today. While Elio collaborated with musicians and artists like Andy Warhol and Haring, there is so much potential for new relationships and creative partnerships.
Window of the Fiorucci store in New York, 1976
“The most important thing is our authenticity,” said Schaffer. “This is a very true and beautiful story. It’s completely authentic. It wasn’t made up two years ago.” Fiorucci is an old brand going new places – the possibilities that Elio started are endless. Watch this space.
The Fiorucci pop-up is on at Selfridges, 400 Oxford St, London W1A 1AB. Shop the collection online at www.selfridges.com.
Text by Tamsin Blanchard