The active world of fashion collaborations is one that can be exciting at times and overwhelming at others and as a large player in that space, Lorenzo Brunetti who is a collaborations designer at END. Clothing, is always ensuring that he's putting his best foot forward. As someone with over a decade in the fashion industry, he has learned a thing or two about what makes a project important and when it comes to collabs, he has been behind some of the most notable in the streetwear space over the last few years. We got the chance to chat with Lorenzo about his journey to becoming END.'s collabs designer, his tips for those looking to get into the space, how his style influences his work and much more.
Hi Lorenzo, this conversation feels like a long time coming! For those who don't know you or what you do, can you tell us about yourself?
Hey guys, glad to be chatting with you both! Well, my name is Lorenzo Brunetti and I'm a collaborations designer for the British fashion retailer END. Clothing. I work between the buyers and marketers to put together collaborations, primarily in footwear but more and more apparel. I have been with END. for nearly 4 years and have worked in the design and fashion space my whole career, since about 15 years old, working various internships and jobs at brands like Churchs, G-Star Raw and Omar Afridi.
As someone on the collaborations design team, what does your day look like?
The day usually starts with emails, whether that's with internal buyer or marketing teams or collaborator partners. Once emails get cleared it's a lot of time spent on creative briefs for collaborations. With product like this, we're planning around a year in advance so these days it's a lot of briefs with brands for 2024 already.
How do the collabs usually come about and how do you plan for these types of projects so far in advance?
A lot of brands we have longstanding relationships with since the store has carried them for so long and we've done collabs with them before so that helps to start the conversations. We're always doing our best to predict trends in the future and often lean on our buyers too for this since they are always looking into the future so that's how we might land on a new brand to collaborate with, but we will focus on brands that are carried in the store.
From a design standpoint for the project, we're all about trying to cover a wide range of products and price points so that there is something for every customer. This is one of the reasons that we are expanding collaborations beyond footwear a lot more and getting more into apparel, accessories and home goods.
What do you think the key to a successful collaboration is?
You definitely need to be easy going and open minded. A collaboration is like a marriage between two brands. If you're not open to the other's ideas and opinions and always just pushing how you think something should be, then it will never work well.
The building of the concept and storytelling is also really important from a full launch and execution standpoint. The collaboration is not just about the product itself, it's about the campaign and the creatives that tell the story and ultimately sell the shoe. We spend a lot of time making sure the concept is on point before diving into the design and that always helps through to the end.
That's a great point on concept and storytelling. It feels like a lot of collaborations these days are just money grabs without a lot of thought.
Yes, unfortunately a lot of brands out there, big and small, simply just collaborate to put their logos beside each other and sell it as an exclusive drop and it's easy to see when there isn't really much thought put into the other pieces of the project. Definitely not to say that's most collabs but something that we're always making sure of at END. is that we can't ever look at a project and think that it was just a logo mashup.
What advice would you give to someone younger who is looking to get a job like yours?
Getting your foot in the door in the fashion industry is key to eventually get into the world of collaborations. This can be done with any brand at any level - internships can be a great place to start - but just being in a space where you can start understanding how branding is done and how product comes to life will really help.
Building your network is also really important. Reach out to anyone who you think is doing something interesting for a chat. Even if they don't have an opportunity for you then, you never know what meeting that extra person could open up for you in the future.
Now that you're a few years in, what would you say is one of your favourite projects that you've worked on?
The first was the Reebok Beatnik that we did. I think the concept was really great and it played super well into the Beatnik with the hairy suede and faux fur lining. The Beatnik was also having a big moment then so it was great to see how much people were into it.
I also think we did a great job on the Diadora Grappa and Limoncello pack. The shoes were great and the photoshoot was super fun, which I think, after COVID, everyone needed.
Would you say that your personal style influences your designs?
Definitely. Most of the stuff I own, besides my shoes, socks and underwear, is vintage so my closet acts like my own archive in a way. I love buying old Americana like some vintage Levi's or slogan tees. It's awesome to be able to pull pieces and reference interesting stitch patterns or details that you can't find in modern day products and use them as ideas for new collabs.
Makes total sense! Lastly, what's what brand you haven't worked on yet but would love to?
I'd love to work on Mephisto! Concepts did an awesome job with Mephisto on that vintage-inspired Apple shoe and I'd love to do my own spin with them. We carry a ton of their product so maybe one day!
Check out Lorenzo's Instagram for more behind the scenes of his projects at END. Clothing and keep it locked to Pier Five for more conversations with creative leaders just like this!