Yes, really—in fact, it might come as an even bigger surprise to hear that menswear isn’t even new to the brand that you associate with a hot date night. We speak to Chiara Scagli, CEO of La Perla’s Asia-Pacific division, about overcoming that misconcepti
Jens Henning Koch, Executive Vice President of Montblanc.
Esquire: Could you tell me more about the reasons behind La Perla’s decision to enter the menswear market? Chiara Scagli: La Perla has been doing menswear for a couple of decades. It’s not something that’s super new for us. In the past, we focused on boxers, underwear, T-shirts and swimwear. In the scene in Casino Royale where James Bond walks out of the ocean in a pair of blue swim shorts, those were La Perla.
So, we’ve been making items in that world for quite a while, and have always had a very loyal base of male clients, but men’s and women’s shopping behaviour is quite different. Men come into the store, buy 10 white boxers, 10 black boxers, 10 white T-shirts and 10 black T-shirts, and go “see you in six months”. ( Laughs) Or they have a place in London, and they need to stock up on basics. So, they have a set there, and a set in New York.
We thought that since we have entered the world of women’s ready-towear, and have the skillset to do menswear too, why not? We want our men and women to look equally great.
Esquire: Do the collections share a similar DNA? Chiara Scagli: Yes and no. The men don’t have the same floral prints that you see in the women’s collection, but the goal of our clothes is the same. We want to make our men’s clothes as comfortable as our women’s. That’s number one.
We also want the clothes to be practical, that’s why we add stretch to our fabrics. It means they are wrinkleresistant and “recover” easily. For example, when you’re wearing a pullo-
ver, wrinkles usually start to form at the elbows as the day progresses. With the high quality of fabrics, mixed with the stretch that we use, that doesn’t happen with a La Perla pullover.
Another similarity shared by the collections is that we want them to be coherent, from A to Z. That means from the underwear to the jackets, everything speaks the same language.
Esquire: Who is the La Perla man? Chiara Scagli: All men are La Perla men, and it’s the same with women. We want to offer our clients a yearround experience. That means we are the only luxury brand that you can wear 24 hours a day literally. You can sleep in your La Perla pyjamas, wake up and put your La Perla robe on, have a shower, then put your La Perla boxers, trousers, socks, T-shirt and shoes on, before slipping into your La Perla blazer before leaving home. It’s the same concept for beachwear. When you go on holiday, we have everything from swim trunks to linen shirts and beach shorts, all from La Perla.
Esquire: In that sense, La Perla functions as a one-stop shop for all your clothing needs? Chiara Scagli: For women, we have sunglass and perfume, and we will be launching our sunglasses collection for men for Spring/Summer’18. Except for ski and scuba suits, we pretty much have anything that a man would need. ( Laughs) But yes, that’s the goal, a onestop shop.
Esquire: To be honest, when I first heard that La Perla was doing menswear, it was confusing. It’s hard to disassociate La Perla from sexy undergarments. It’s a double-edged sword. Do you feel like that is a stereotype you would like to change?
Chiara Scagli: I think what you say is right: when men think of La Perla, they think about beautiful girls in sexy lingerie, or they think about their better halves in sexy lingerie—which is fine.
But I think that is the greatest challenge that La Perla faces when approaching menswear. There are many brands that started out doing only womenswear, but evolved into offering made-to-measure for men and so on. It took a while for that to happen. The added difficulty for us is that La Perla isn’t just associated with womenswear, but lingerie, which is very feminine.
Being associated with something so feminine is a challenge for us, but it is something that in time will matter less to men because they are becoming more open-minded, even more respectful towards women, and so educated that they don’t care.
However, whatever the case may be, both men and women seek the best quality available that is also different and comfortable. For us, that is our biggest strength.
Esquire: What is inside the starter pack for a man who has never tried an item from La Perla? Chiara Scagli: Boxers and T-shirts are definitely in there. Not the undershirts, but rather a good solid T-shirt, in either black or white, made from the finest Egyptian cotton. Then a pair of trousers that is formal enough to go well with a suit, yet made out of technical fabric that is comfortable enough to sleep in. Then a shirt and a pair of swim trunks to round it off. Five essential pieces that a man can wear throughout the year.
“We thought that since we have entered the world of women’s readyto-wear, and have the skillset to do menswear too, why not? We want our men and women to look equally great.” – Chiara Scagli