For those who have experienced it, il Bel Paese remains like a siren’s call in memory. There is always the sense that one can be drawn back into the Mediterranean fold, if ever the chance arises. This is especially true in the heady weeks in August, like now, when Ferragosto has just passed and the locals seek the last bit of sunshine before their holidays are over.
Italy never leaves one, I think. There is a romanticism that can’t be replicated, only admired from a distance or lived within wholly. No one understands this better than, perhaps, Passeggiata, a silk scarf company founded by Austin Pollak and Paul Schlossarek.
The story behind the brand is almost as natural a venture as a daily stroll through the streets of Florence. Pollak and Schlossarek met while attending the Politecnico Internazionale della Moda (or Polimoda for short), where both were studying. It seemed after a past life for Paul as an economist and Austin as a lawyer, both were looking for something new. Something fulfilling. Something imbued with la dolce vita. It was there that a friendship would, eventually, turn into a partnership that has become Passeggiata.
For the uninitiated, the name Passeggiata comes from the leisurely walk Italians take in the evening hours (Austin and Paul even have a bit of tutorial to help perfect the stroll). It’s through this experience that one can appreciate the city and its people so much more. What better way, then, to bring the city to the worldwide customer than through a product inspired by these leisurely moments shared by those who have perfect the art of leisure?
But how? And, perhaps more importantly, for whom?
The answer was simple for Schlossarek and Pollak – especially after a few bicchieri di vino. Their business wouldn’t be about reinventing what’s been done before, but expanding the blueprint of classic tailoring onto a new market: womenswear. This was a natural progression for Pollak, who had seen the need for a more considered approach to design when it came to women’s clothing. Pollak, whose pedigree includes Ralph Lauren, Shibumi, and Liverano e Liverano, saw that women, almost counterintuitively, were an untapped market for classically-trained men’s tailors. And with that, Passeggiata was born.
Since launching last year, the brand has focused on a collection of silk scarves with a thematic lean, centered on all things Italian. The current collections, called Giardini di Firenze and Ferragosto, create a narrative that’s at once biographical to the founders’ shared time in Italy, while also being impressionistic enough to get the sense of Italian-ness that’s appealing to anyone, man or woman. From bathing beauties to Medici gardens, Passeggiata took an aerial view of Italy to source inspiration from terra to mare.
While ostensibly a womenswear brand (with a future eye towards larger clothing collections and tailoring), we at Klein’s think there’s a certain Gigi Rizzi quality to the brand where the “Metro-Mediterranean” leanings of the brand qualify these early pieces as unisex. We’re excited to see the future of this brand and, having personally lived in Italy in my younger years, it’s nice to see Italy be recognized thoughtfully and not become a caricature of itself with the careful eye and attention to detail that Austin and Paul have brought to the brand.
To learn more about Passeggiata, you can visit their website here.