The designer behind Sartorial Monk: "I don’t know where the next season will go, I don’t think of the future. I live in the moment with passion."
Sabato Russo only started Sartorial Monk two years ago, and already his brand has been featured at Milan Men's Fashion Week and had Italian actress, Violeta Sanchez open his show. Having been a fashion model prior to starting his own label, Sabato travelled around the world, becoming particularly inspired by the fashion of Japanese artists such as Yamamoto. His brand combines this oriental purity with the traditional Neapolitan know-how. Luckily, we were able to catch the designer a day after he revealed his Spring Summer '18 collection and ask him a few questions about his impressive brand and his plans for the future.
You started your career in modelling, how did you decide to go into fashion design?
I studied architecture at university and then did modelling. Modelling allowed me to travel and be exposed to many cultures in the 80s. I started in Milan, then moved to Paris and then Japan. It was in Japan that I discovered a different aesthetic to that of the West. It was so unique. The work of designers like Yamamoto, Issey Myake and Rei Kawakubo, all had an effect on me and I knew I wanted to explore fashion design myself.
You just showcased your newest collection! Are you taking a break?
No break. I am now going to Paris and my break will happen at the end of March.
How is it working in Milan?
For me it feels great coming to Milan, finally I'm back home. The feeling of belonging, it has no price.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in the region of Puglia, opposite of Naples and then I studied in Florence and Milan.
Was it difficult starting a brand without having studied Fashion Design?
No. I don’t think anything is impossible. The word impossible does not exist in my mind. But I think by not having a fashion background, it has only been a benefit to me. I have not been given a direction like they do in school, I look at my style as something I develop myself. I don’t have a mentor or teacher. Plus, I don’t like strict methods. The story of Sartorial Monk is that it is transforming an emotion into a garment. It is about staying pure, that is why the models are barefoot, it is a symbol of humility.
I loved the models from your catwalk. Did you choose them yourself?
Yes. Everything behind the brand has to be me, not because I am self-centred but because I really want to explore the different aspects of having a brand by myself. My brand is too new to let other people do things for me, I don't want the brand to lose its identity. Of course I have a team around me who I still have to give direction. But I am involved with the casting, makeup, choosing the music, etc. I have a fantastic team around me and I give them independence, but within limits.
Where do you get inspiration from?
I am not looking for inspiration externally, I am looking in myself. The previous season was only black and white as I felt black and white. The collection grew because I grew.
What do you think the next season will be?
I don’t know where next season will go, I don’t think of the future. I live in the moment with passion.
People you look up to?
There are many designers I am in love with such as Yamamoto but there is not one designer I take inspiration from. I keep informed on certain designers, but I try not to look as images stay in your mind.
I like to have a simple life. I go to the gym, cook, take care of my dog, and hang out with a few friends, not many. Lately I'm not social, I like quiet evenings at home, where I prepare the food myself; I love to eat!
Dreams for the next five years?
The objective is to express my aesthetic not only in clothes. So I want to expand into design, furniture and perfume. I want to create a lifestyle. I also see the Sartorial Monk brand expanding to 2 to 3 hundred incredible stores.