Voir’s fashion reporter Pippa Simmonds gets up close and personal with co-founder and creative director of high fashion brand GCDS, Giuliano Calza, to discuss creative freedom, an international approach to fashion, and true Italian craftsmanship.
“Giuro che domani smetti” translates directly to “I swear I’ll quit tomorrow” - a familiar phrase for many of us, I’m sure. This particular idiom was also the original thought process behind Italian- born streetwear brand GCDS.
Nowadays, the acronym stands for ‘God Can’t Destroy Streetwear’, which (for the monolinguals amongst us) rolls off the tongue just slightly more smoothly than the former; and has an edgy ring to it that perfectly verbalises the brand’s ethos.
While GCDS offers a funky, athleisure-streetwear exterior, they are by no means limited to this. For SS19, the high fashion label, which is the brain child of designer Giuliano Calza, sent more practical designs down the runway. Boiler suits, m25-workman-esque hi-vis trousers and summer-holiday-friendly neutral bucket hats prevailed. Incidentally, this was the same show that the internet went wild for after models took to the runway sporting three boobs beneath their GCDS crop tops. At the time, Calza’s mother had breast cancer, and after a creative brainstorm with his team, envisioning ‘the future of the beach front’, he thought: “maybe in the future, they’re going to have a third one!”
GCDS’ AW19 collection was peppered with influences from just about every era: 60’s mini cuts (and matching high-ponytails), 80’s shoulder pads and Working Girl suiting – and even a collaboration with Polly Pocket. The common ground between the multitude of themes explored in the show, however, is that unmistakeable Calza touch. Although, it’s hard to pin down exactly how he manages to make suits, ruffles and patent leather stand out from a sea of designers dipping their toes in the very same trends. Intrigued? You should be.
For most, working alongside a sibling may seem like a pretty daunting prospect, but Giuliano Calza has held the title of creative director since the brand’s launch in 2015, whilst his brother, Giordano, works as the company’s CEO. “[working with Giordano] is great! I completely trust him and can focus on the creative side without worrying.” Giuliano spent time at university in Milan, followed by Shanghai, before launching his brand. He describes how this experience allowed him to distance himself from ‘European clichés’ and just see a bit more of the world. “I was able to explore an exceptional market and cultural landscape that not many designers can consider in their creative process,” Calza tells us. “I’ve had the opportunity to see the best of both worlds.”
Whilst Calza’s travels have undoubtedly had great influence on what GCDS is today, maintaining an element of Italian classic-ness has always been imperative.
“I was able to explore an exceptional market and cultural landscape
that not many designers can consider in their creative process.”
“I produce everything in Italy because I feel deeply connected to the place where I grew up,” he explains. “At the same time, I did expand my experience worldwide, so this influence is at the core [of GCDS].” This experience has resulted in what Calza calls: ‘Italian craftsmanship, mixed with an inclusive and international approach’.
To name a few of the Milan-based label’s latest victories, research by Launchmetrics and Lyst recently named them the second most searched Italian brand online. 2018 also saw Giuliano Calza secure himself a spot on the BoF 500 (“the definitive professional index of the people shaping the $2.4 trillion fashion industry”), as well as the release of their cruelty free, gender fluid line of cosmetic products. The line was designed for a unisex customer; and contains four very GCDS lipstick shades, named with ‘today’s vocabulary’ in mind, whilst ‘avoiding pretentiousness’: HYPE, MARIJUANA 4:20, VELVET D.I.C.K and BLINGHOE. Next up for GCDS beauty? Nail polish: “’Miami Milf’ is my favourite shade!”
Famous faces in favour of the brand include Ariana Grande and Dua Lipa (who have both donned GCDS garb in their music videos), as well as Bella Hadid, Sita Abellan and influencer/fellow Italian businessperson Chiara Ferrangi. Their archive of models includes Winnie Harlow and Chinq Pink; and each online order placed comes with a mini GCDS pack of matches, condom, sticker or cookie – so Giuliano Calza is, unquestionably, a man who knows his own brand.
So, what’s next for GCDS? “World domination!” Calza jokes. “Sure, we’re planning some ambitious projects. Store openings, a comprehensive brand-wide sustainability plan, and always working to create something special for the youth.” To see some of his glorious creations in action – head to the editorial ‘Undeniably Bebe’ where she rocks GCDS for Voir’s cover shoot.