Es­sen­tials of style

Marcelo Bur­lon

Esquire (Singapore) - - Contents -

It’s no mean feat to trans­late a life­time of ex­pe­ri­ences into a brand. But that’s pre­cisely what Marcelo Bur­lon has done. From events plan­ning to pub­lic re­la­tions, work­ing as a stylist and DJ’ing, the Patag­o­nia-born, Mi­lan-raised multi-hy­phen­ate is writ­ing his lat­est chap­ter, one where he plays the lead as a de­signer of his own la­bel, County of Mi­lan. Re­cently in town for the open­ing of his County of Mi­lan store, he sits down with Esquire Sin­ga­pore to talk about his child­hood in Patag­o­nia, how DJ’ing in­spired him to start County of Mi­lan and why he doesn’t think that streetwear is go­ing to evolve.

E S Q: What was your child­hood grow­ing up in Ar­gentina like? MARCELO BUR­LON: I grew up in a vil­lage in the south of Ar­gentina, Patag­o­nia ac­tu­ally. I came from a Lebanese and Ital­ian fam­ily, so my fam­ily de­cided to move to Italy dur­ing the end of the 1980s. We ar­rived in Italy in 1990. My child­hood was re­ally nice be­cause grow­ing up in a small vil­lage we used to ski ev­ery win­ter be­cause it was a moun­tain­ous area. It was pretty amaz­ing that you’re in the mid­dle of a lot of cul­ture. It was a pretty spe­cial child­hood.

E S Q: You talked about how go­ing to par­ties had a huge in­flu­ence on you. What was it like back then? MARCELO BUR­LON: The club was what got me in­ter­ested in fash­ion. I used to live in an area where the club scene was re­ally strong. For over a year, I used to go there for the week­end just to

dance. So it was a very im­por­tant area, where de­sign­ers like Marc Ja­cobs and Jean Paul Gaultier would drop by from time to time.

E S Q: Was that when you started DJ’ing? MARCELO BUR­LON: I started DJ’ing when I used to run a party that be­came very pop­u­lar—and when things be­come too pop­u­lar I like to step out and start some­thing else. So, we moved to an­other club and we started a party called ‘I pre­tend to be a DJ’. We in­vited other de­sign­ers, jour­nal­ists, ar­chi­tects, VJs from MTV to party with us while we pre­tended to be a DJ. But then it be­came my real pas­sion and I started to DJ pro­fes­sion­ally and started DJ’ing around the world. When so­cial me­dia came out and I started hav­ing a lot of gigs, DJ’ing for the fash­ion scene, I saw there was so much fol­low­ing, even right be­fore so­cial me­dia. I was like ‘ Oh, the peo­ple want some­thing else rather than just one-night stands’. They wanted to be part of some­thing or be­long to a group. That’s how I launched my brand. I was like, ‘you know what, I’m go­ing to try to show my rules and my ex­pe­ri­ence through the brand and tell my story through the graph­ics’.

E S Q: Why call it County of Mi­lan? Is there a mean­ing be­hind it when you started it? MARCELO BUR­LON: I had an agency called Marcelo Bur­lon En­ter­prise County of Mi­lan. The con­cept [was based on what] one of my best friends did—this guy is an art di­rec­tor and he was re­search­ing se­cret let­ters, se­cret doc­u­ments from Rus­sian spies. That was the con­cept of my agency. And there was County of Mi­lan. It doesn’t mean any­thing but it means a lot as it doesn’t ex­ist as a county. It was like a funny thing to de­velop some­thing that doesn’t ex­ist. Mi­lan was the place that gave me the chance to tell my story, to re­alise my dreams and ex­press my­self.

E S Q: How would you de­fine County of Mi­lan? MARCELO BUR­LON: Con­tem­po­rary. I don’t like to call it streetwear be­cause it doesn’t ex­ist any­more. Some­how ev­ery­thing over­laps. Lux­ury, streetwear, fash­ion and ev­ery­thing are to­gether now. There’s not much dif­fer­ence you know? As long as the qual­ity is high.

E S Q: What do you feel about hype? MARCELO BUR­LON: Hype is just bor­ing, but we need hype be­cause that’s what makes the brand alive. But I think it’s too su­per­fi­cial. Hype is just for kids. I don’t know, it’s some­thing that we need but we don’t like. You know what I mean? I think peo­ple should go deeper into things in­stead of wear­ing some­thing be­cause they see it as a sta­tus sym­bol.

E S Q: What ad­vice you would give to kids or young de­sign­ers who want to start their own la­bel one day? MARCELO BUR­LON: First of all, the qual­ity should be amaz­ing. There are so many clothes out there, so many la­bels. And also, they re­ally should think about mak­ing some­thing unique. Some­thing that doesn’t ex­ist, you know. They shouldn’t copy any­one; they should do their own thing.

E S Q: So your au­tumn/win­ter 2018 and spring/sum­mer 2019 col­lec­tions are quite dif­fer­ent. Let’s start with au­tumn/win­ter. There are a lot of col­lab­o­ra­tions that went on, so is this a process you en­joy a lot?

MARCELO BUR­LON: I think I’m one of the first brands that started the col­lab­o­ra­tion.

E S Q: What’s the first one that you started? MARCELO BUR­LON: I think the first real one was with G-Shock. I mean the ba­sis of this col­lec­tion is BMX. Cause I used to go out a lot on a BMX when I was a lit­tle boy. And then there are many col­lab­o­ra­tions like the NBA. We did the Lak­ers, the Chicago Bulls and you know, a lot of teams and Muham­mad Ali.

E S Q: Is Ali a source of in­spi­ra­tion for you? Why did you de­cide to use Muham­mad Ali? MARCELO BUR­LON: Muham­mad Ali is one of the big­gest fig­ures in Amer­ica. He did a lot for the so­ci­ety, changed the minds of the peo­ple and he helped a lot ac­tu­ally. So I like these types of peo­ple who have some­thing to say, peo­ple who fight against the sys­tem, against the white supremacy.

E S Q: Do you draw a lot of in­spi­ra­tion from Mi­lan? MARCELO BUR­LON: Not re­ally. The bases are like Patag­o­nia, Ar­gentina, na­ture, South Amer­ica. I kind of trans­late it in the con­tem­po­rary world.

E S Q: Why don’t you call it some­thing that re­minds them of Ar­gentina? When I think of County of Mi­lan, I think that this guy is from Mi­lan and then I would think that if I had never seen your col­lec­tions be­fore, they would be in­spired by Mi­lan. Can I ask why you wouldn’t name it some­thing that would re­mind peo­ple more about Ar­gentina? Or is that too ob­vi­ous for you? MARCELO BUR­LON: I don’t know. I used the sym­bol

Patag­o­nia, of Ar­gentina, so you don’t need to. Be­cause it is also a con­tem­po­rary brand. There is some­thing about Ar­gentina in the name of the brand.

E S Q: Let’s talk about the up­com­ing spring/sum­mer 2019 col­lec­tion. What can we ex­pect from it? MARCELO BUR­LON: There was a lot of neon of course. A col­lab­o­ra­tion with East­pak as well and Linda Far­row-type glasses, yeah. But the main in­spi­ra­tion was Steven Spiel­berg’s Close En­coun­ters of The Third Kind. What we did for this col­lec­tion, we cre­ated a UFO that was look­ing for spe­cial peo­ple. They were choos­ing peo­ple so they cuffed him, brought him out in the sum­mer and erased his mem­o­ries. The floppy disks con­tain his mem­o­ries. So there was this con­cept of the UFOs, kid­nap­ping peo­ple and wip­ing their mem­o­ries

E S Q: Why Close En­coun­ters of The Third Kind? MARCELO BUR­LON: I’m al­ways in­spired by aliens. I be­lieve in aliens.

E S Q: Oh re­ally? MARCELO BUR­LON: You don’t?

E S Q: I do be­lieve there is life out there, but I’m not sure if they would want to come and visit us. MARCELO BUR­LON: It’s not about vis­it­ing. You know that we are not the only ones in the uni­verse. Oth­er­wise the world would be so bor­ing. Just us, hu­man be­ings, no. So that was the main thing, and also Close En­coun­ters was the main thing as well.

E S Q: You talked about streetwear and that there shouldn’t be a term streetwear be­cause it doesn’t ex­ist any­more. How do you think that this move­ment of streetwear is go­ing to evolve? MARCELO BUR­LON: It’s not go­ing to evolve. It’s not re­ally there, you know. You can’t re­ally change it. Un­like lux­ury—it’s like you can call it fash­ion, but not streetwear. Streetwear is like, from the streets. The ghetto. (Laughs)

E S Q: (Laughs) So can I ask what is your great­est fear. MARCELO BUR­LON: Rats. I will run when I see rats. I will be run­ning and climb­ing.

E S Q: Will you ever do a col­lec­tion in­spired by your fear? MARCELO BUR­LON: No, be­cause I’m pretty sure it won’t sell.

E S Q: (Laughs) That’s fair, that’s fair. What would you want your legacy to be? How do you want peo­ple to re­mem­ber you? MARCELO BUR­LON: Some­one who made his own story from noth­ing, from zero. I go to uni­ver­si­ties a lot to tell my sto­ries, es­pe­cially in uni­ver­si­ties that ma­jor in busi­ness and mar­ket­ing, be­cause it is a rare case of some­one from par­ties who be­came a char­ac­ter and a brand.

E S Q: DJ’ing and fash­ion, any cor­re­la­tion? MARCELO BUR­LON: Sim­i­lar but rel­a­tive. Mu­sic, fash­ion and art are in gen­eral re­lated a lot ac­tu­ally. We all lis­ten to mu­sic and we all want to wear some­thing cute (laughs).

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