Established in 1980 as a small family-run business, today Il Gufo is an international brand, creating traditional, luxury designer childrenswear that showcases the best in Italian design and craftsmanship. Still very much a family run company, the daughter and son of founder, Giovanna Miletti is the driving force behind Il Gufo and ensures their traditional values are still very much at the forefront.
We caught up with Giovanna’s daughter and CEO - Alessandra Chiavelli to discuss the origins of the brand, the inspirations behind their beautiful designs and their commitment to the ever important subject of sustainability and the traceability of their fabrics and the products they produce.
Shop our new-in collection of kids summer clothes from Il Gufo.
What does the name ‘Il Gufo’ mean and what is the original inspiration for this?
Our brand name has an amusing origin. When the business started and clients were asking my mother for more and more items, she used to work during the night to fulfil the demand. The Owl, a nocturnal bird, started being her nickname.
What challenges have you faced from starting as a small family-run business to the international brand of designer childrenswear that we know and love today?
More than challenges I would say we have progressively seen new opportunities. Growing up as a company and going international, we learnt how to rethink the collection taking into account the needs of new customers, in order to welcome cultural differences and aesthetic habits. At the same time, we have remained true to ourselves, with collections that year after year are recognisable and communicate our values.
What do you think the secret to Il Gufo’s continuing success is?
The care we have in every single detail - always. From the first definition of the seasonal colours to the boutique’s set-up. Design, comfort and superior quality are the strengths of the brand’s collections, where adult fashion trends are toned down for the world of children ensuring their comfort, well-being and, most important, respecting their identity.
The company slogan is ‘children dressed as children’. How do make sure that you achieve this?
It’s mandatory for us to rethink everything with the aim of have a kid-friendly fit, style and functionality. Our collections are composed of simple yet sophisticated items for children who dress as children. When I entered the company, it was with great pleasure that I realised the same values and principles of my education have been passed on to the people working at Il Gufo - commitment, loyalty, team-work and most of all a deep love for well-done things.
Do your own children have any influence on the brands designs?
Whenever I involve my kids in our collection brainstorming, we receive a great appreciation for wild animal prints, colourful styles, cool shapes and funny themes. This is fine for us because kids need to feel right and happy wearing our outfits. In addition , we do feel the responsibility for educating them with the correct codes and behaviours in each situation of their life - of teaching them the value of wearing good fabrics, items that last as long as possible, for a sustainable approach to life.
Outside of the Il Gufo world, what do you love to do as a family?
I love being surrounded by nature. That is why, whenever I have a moment, I enjoy going for a walk to the mountains with my kids. I am also a big fun of sports and it’s so important to keep the right balance between body and mind, refilling yourself with energy and keeping negative thoughts away! As a family, we love all outdoor activities such as skiing, cycling and sailing.
Where do you usually draw inspiration from for new collections?
Our collections often take inspiration from nature in all its expressions - be it an autumn leaf, a far away desert, an Arctic landscape or the deep sea. From there a physical and fantastic journey starts and enables us to draw the main characteristics of the collection – the colors, fabrics, shapes, details and so forth. All departments are involved in this journey and works with passion to make it a reality season after season.
How would you describe the Il Gufo style?
At Il Gufo we create timeless kids designer clothes mixing tradition and innovation. The tradition is the expression of the Italian soul of the brand, both from an aesthetic point of view, with tailoring details, elegant shapes, quality fabrics and evergreen colors and from a savoir faire point of view, with our seamstresses working on the perfection of every single detail. The innovation for us is a continuous quest to research all fields, with special attention to the fabrics and their traceability.
When designing for children, what are the three most important things to you?
At Il Gufo, there is a whole synergic team involved in the creation of the collection every season. I personally follow every phase with the team, the most important three being: conceiving the right collection structure to guarantee the best production dynamics, following the majority of style decisions to make sure our creative DNA is fully respected and finally, thee supervision of the quality control before sending the collection to production.
What makes the brand so unique?
Quality, respect and coherence - looking at the future without forgetting who we are and who we have been. Our people make us unique too as we like thinking about the Il Gufo crew as a big family, all working for the same scope with passion and dedication.
We love your classic collections. What can we expect from Il Gufo in the future?
Thank you! From a collection point of view, the future of Il Gufo will be very true to its DNA, with a FW'19 collection that takes inspiration from the yarn, material and origin of every garment. The fluidity in the juxtaposition of shapes, materials and especially colours make the collection a reassuring and sincere representation of the tradition of the brand.
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