Founded by Lapo Elkann, Andrea Tessitore, and Giovanni Accongiagioco, Italia Independent made its debut on the Italian menswear scene at the famous Pitti Uomo tradeshow in 2007, where it introduced the first pair of sunglasses made entirely of carbon fiber. If it seems like a strange move for a brand that now builds its menswear collections around updated sartorial classics like double-breasted sportcoats, popover shirts, and slim trousers, it helps to consider the background of the man who serves as the driving force behind I-I: Elkann.
If you haven’t heard of him, well, you’re probably not Italian. The grandson of Fiat chairman and style icon Gianni Agnelli, Lapo is a household name in Italy. And his time in the family business—he served as Director of Marketing for Fiat after stints at Maserati and Ferrari—imbued him with an abiding appreciation for innovative technologies and materials that drive the automotive industry. Hence those sunglasses.
Of course, there are other reasons Lapo is famous, one being an unfortunate, if well-publicized, evening in 2005 that landed him in an overdose-induced coma. The other? The way the guy dresses. Known for his ability to pull off looks (a powder-blue, double-breasted suit) that would prove outlandish on others, he’s proven himself just as stylish as his grandfather, if far less conventional. In the years since his troubles, he’s shaken the bad-boy image. The knack for style, though, has remained.
And, even though they recently brought on designer Eric Wright to help create their recent collections, there’s a lot of Lapo in Italia Independent. Old World tailoring meets modern fits and bold patterns, classic pieces are reinterpreted in tech fabrics (there’s been a Cordura nylon tuxedo jacket), and there’s no shying away from the new and different. But even if I-I is willing to push the envelope in some areas, there are a few where it won’t budge: Each piece the brand creates is eminently wearable, and each is conceived, designed, and produced in Italy. They call it “Made in Italy 2.0.” We call it damn stylish.