Introducing cashmere fashion by Studio 163
Cashmere fashion label Studio 163 – The interview with founder Barbara Giandomenico
»Cashmere is the only choice. The material is understatedly elegant and timeless …«
Hello Barbara, what did your path look like before you founded Studio 163?
My studies in communication design and the subsequent professional life in Berlin were a very formative time. Berlin with its people and creatives was a great inspiration more than 10 years ago.
In 2011, I started my own small agency and shortly afterwards brought Alexander Giandomenico on board as a partner, who is now also my husband. That was also important for the future of the label and, of course, privately.
How and why did you finally decide to start your own fashion brand?
Already in design on paper and on the internet, my preference was always in the fashion field. When a close friend of mine who ran the PERRET SCHAAD fashion label brought me even closer to the world of fashion, I expanded my first self-employment with a second one.
The desire to do so had been dormant in me for a long time and, together with Alexander, the basis for it was a very good one.
How did the focus on cashmere come about?
I wanted to design high-quality classics that are comfortable to wear, look great and are worth passing on. Designs that are worth repairing even after years and that you can enjoy over and over again. Cashmere is the only choice. The material is understatedly elegant, timeless and, above all, can still look like new even years later if you look after it and love it.
How did you find the right company/supplier for you in Mongolia?
By chance! A friend of mine who travelled a lot to Mongolia found a small, fine production facility that produces the highest quality cashmere knitwear and is run by a single mother. Already 15 years ago, my friend had jumpers produced there and sold them in Germany, using the proceeds to equip the production with modern knitting machines. This has enabled the production to develop and grow. We continue to work with this partner in the same way today.
What do you understand by sustainable business and what demands do you have on your business partners in terms of sustainability?
It is fair to say that, contrary to fast fashion, we promote sustainable consumption, as our timeless designs of the highest quality are particularly long-lasting. Cashmere is a precious commodity. It is important to us to buy the yarn from producers who make sure that the goats are kept on fair farms, who take care of the environmental aspects involved, which means, for example, that goat breeding does not result in further desert expansion.
We also attach great importance to the circumstances and working conditions at our production partners, such as in the Mongolian knitting factory, where fair wages are paid to the workers and salaries continue to be paid even during illness and maternity leave, which is truly not standard in Mongolia. When sourcing all our materials, we pay attention to the highest Öko-Tex standards. This also applies to the leather that we use and source in Germany. We also do not overproduce and try to avoid unnecessary transport.
What does the design process look like for you? Where and from what do you draw your inspiration?
Living and being inspired by it. This includes music, culture, films, people, nature and my intuition.
What are your plans for the future? Will you stick with the current portfolio for the time being?
Our focus is still on the cashmere products and evergreens. Offering timeless design of the highest quality at a fair price. This is our philosophy and that remains!
But as we have already expanded our portfolio in this context to include leather accessories and the hand-tailored collection in Munich, we are always working on new areas that are in need of some modern classics (laughs).