MYAR founder Andrea Rosso and Port’s David Hellqvist take a closer look at menswear’s fascination with army uniforms and military details, and how the Italian brand is giving vintage pieces a new lease of life
Fashion is all about newness: twice a year we’re supposed to perform a human moulting of sorts by bringing in an entirely new wardrobe. No one does that of course – maybe just the odd new piece, or two – but the concept reflects fashion’s insatiable thirst for novelty. Despite this relentless looking forward, however, a lot of the inspiration for those ‘new’ looks come from the past. Add to that menswear’s constant obsession with army uniforms and military details, and there’s no question about where I’m heading with this.
Andrea Rosso, the founder of MYAR, shares that point of view. Having started 55DSL with his father, Diesel CEO Renzo Rosso, the Italian designer has no shortage of contemporary fashion experience. And MYAR combines Rosso’s Diesel CV with his passionate love for military garments and camouflage. Rosso dedicates his time searching for surplus pieces that can be ‘saved’ and given a new lease of life, as part of his MYAR wardrobe. Re-cut and re-appropriated to suit modern civilian life in terms of fit and silhouette, these garments get to keep their stories and histories while being part of a new narrative.
Not only does it make sense from a sustainability point of view, but it’s a great way of combing the past with the current to create a version of the future. On the back of MYAR’s AW18 presentation in Paris last week, Port quizzed Rosso on his brand, where he finds the stock, and if the connection to danger makes the brand even more interesting.
How would you explain the brand to an outsider?
MYAR, an anagram of ARMY and also my initials, is a brand that brings original military garments back to life. It is more than just a brand, it is an operation; we dig through piles of forgotten dead stock in warehouses around the world and hand pick the pieces we believe are the most special. We take these pieces and give them a modern life.
What is it about army uniforms you like, what attracts you to them?
Within the military dress code every uniform garment is developed through function, not only details but also overall appearance. Uniforms have such a strong visual presence and impression; I like how they make you feel powerful as an individual but also have the sense of belonging in a group. Function and purpose are the best!
What are the advantages of re-tailoring existing uniforms instead of making new designs?
All of these existing items have their own stories and individual mutations, they have past lives worn into them that give them character. Broken and faded areas, cuts and past repairs, dirt and discolouration, new items don’t hold the same character.
What do you look for when going through rails… colour, shape, camo?
I start with an idea in mind, and I’m always looking for colours or patterns that attract me the most. Shape and material are important, then I love going more in depth and looking at construction of details like pockets, collar line, stitching, special trims, and insignia. I already imagine wearing it and so the items pick me. There is always so much I look at, there’s so much chaos in warehouses!
Where do you find them?
Many different military markets and fairs around the world: Italy, south England and, of course, Los Angeles. Also in surprising places like a friend’s garage.
Is the chase and research as much fun as actually re-making them?
The chase to find something special is so much fun, but the continuous research throughout the entire process is the best. With existing products you have to find the right base. These garments hold so much character, we are considerate and always researching how to remake them in a way that respects their history. For MYAR, remaking does not mean reproducing but instead giving a second life to these original pieces by refitting and readjusting to make them more modern. Seeing the transformation is so beautiful.
What is the process when re-designing them?
We always try everything on, seeing the item being worn is so important, as misshapen or dirty as they come! From here we can really see what to consider. The main thing is the sizes and silhouettes from the past need to be adjusted to a more ‘present’ fit. There can be many ways to reinterpret the original sartorial construction. Sometimes we just adjust, and other times we completely unstitch and resew a piece! We look at adding graphics or ink stamped artworks, applying new but always original trims, considering the best wash or treatment; all garments are uniquely considered.
What country makes your favourite fatigues?
There’s many to chose from: I like British army long trench coats and pink camo gas capes, Italian marine workwear jackets and bike overpants from the 70s. Swiss army salt and pepper work jackets, German cotton underwear, US N3-B jackets in cotton, N1 deck jacket with reflective tape applied and internal parka lining. OK… it’s better if I stop here!
How does Italy fare compared to other nations?
The Italian army has probably lost all wars, but we looked great at least!
Does the uniform’s connection to danger and death make it more fascinating in a way?
This is a very delicate question, but of course it makes it more interesting. The connotation of war and death is always negative, but as in all things there is always a positive aspect even in a negative scenario. With MYAR we give a second life, a second chance with a positive approach and use.
Photography Ramon Zugliani