Sunday, 19 June 2011
Hentsch Man, a menswear brand born in Brazil (kind of)
On my first day at Pitti Uomo (the menswear trade fair in Florence) this week, I think I spoke more Portuguese than I did either English or Italian. At lunch, I unexpectedly shared a table with Helena Montanarini, the Brazilian brand consultant I interviewed for WGSN, and Carolina Martins, who is now working with Helena on Le Lis Blanc’s new menswear venture. Both were in Florence for Pitti’s new initiative Guest Nation, where Brazil was the focus this season (another post on that to come). Later on, I was introduced to Alexia Hentsch, the founder of Hentsch Man, one of my favourite brands at Pitti this season. Alexia was born in Brazil, but grew up in Switzerland, before going to London to work for Tyler Brulé at Wallpaper, and then setting up her clothing brand.
I instantly clicked with Alexia, as well as with her colleague Camilla, who is a huge fan of Festinho, the Brazilian festival in London (an interview with Camilla is coming up, too).
We chatted in Portuguese for ages about Alexia’s label, which she started in 2008. By 2009, she’d bagged Opening Ceremony in New York as her first stockist, and the brand is now sold in London stores Trunk Clothiers, Wolf & Badger and The Shop at Bluebird.
“When I first started, I went to town on the branding; the branding was probably better than the product,” Alexia admits, and no wonder, working for someone like Tyler Brulé. But her designs have certainly come a long way since she launched what was essentially a shirting range, and the collection now represents an accomplished, complete men’s wardrobe that focuses on slim fitting silhouettes. “The fit is key,” she said. “The clothes need to fit, and they need to fit once. Men don’t really like to shop.”
Most of the collection is currently made in Portugal, while knitwear – which she will launch in stores for this autumn – comes from Scotland.
Alexia has also opened a handful of pop-up shops across London in Notting Hill, Jermyn Street and now Newburgh St, testing out the market before she opens her first, permanent shop.
I wish her all the best.