“…Perhaps it is just Nss, and all the world revolving around it, which can describe us better than anything else… Now we are what we do”, this way Walter D’Aprile answers one of my questions and in those few words it seems to be included the very essence of the interview… From an aerospace engineer to a cool hunter and designer. From projects for planes to digital PR and web marketing. From Naples to Milan with a big goal: to turn Naplestreetstyle dream into a reality, a known and appreciated platform, a space able to go over the national borders.
He succeeded, Walter… In 2008, with his friends and partners Vincenzo Schioppa and Simon Laudati, gives birth to a project that will ride, taming it, the overwhelming wave of 2.0. Together they revolutionize the very meaning of street-style. Together they find a new connotation for the concept of cool hunting. Together they are able to change the game rules in the way of fashion communication.
It’s a completely Italian victory but with an international flavor and today – with the new GCDS clothing line – we could swear they will be able to dictate even the new trends of the fashion that will be… Good luck!
FY - Who is Walter D’Aprile?
WD - It is hard to say… Surely a free person, a lucky one who does what he likes, or at least tries to.
FY - From an aerospace engineer to a fashion-expert and cool-hunter… When and how did the passage happen (if we can speak of a passage)?
WD - Well… Let’s say it was not a real transition as I have always been fascinated by fashion even while my studies were taking me elsewhere… I just decided to wait for It to come to me instead of desperately seeking it by myself. I am also convinced that sooner or later every human being’s true nature comes out and certainly I was not purely an engineer… I like mathematics, the concept of number, but I could not design airplanes all my life long. I want to clarify, however, that if I could go back I would do the same choice, I do not deny my education rather I believe it can be an added and funny value.
FY - If I say Vincenzo Schioppa, what do you reply?
WD - We could say Vincenzo has represented first the temptation to do what I really liked, and then the reality to have accomplished it. It’s certainly his merit or demerit (I’m laughing) and Simon Laudati’s, my other partner in Nss, if today I am no longer a practicing engineer.
FY - From Naples to Milan. From a fantasy whispered with friends to a concrete reality appreciated all over the world. From Nss to NssMag.com and NssFactory. From 2008 to these days a rapid, unstoppable escalation,… Walter, how was the idea born and when did you really understand this was the right way to go?
WD - The climb was hard and it is even today, but we all hope this is just the beginning. The idea of Naplestreetstyle, conceived by Vincent in 2008 and which soon involved me and Simon, was simple but also innovative for that time: the 2.0 was not fully established and the concept of cool hunting was not widely used yet. Moreover, the fact we were born in Naples allowed us to grow gradually and not to immediately clash with the Milanese giants. In our hearts we knew that the goal was to get here and even further but we were good and lucky enough at doing things at the right time, with no hurry.
FY - What are the main difficulties you encountered at the very beginning?
WD - The main difficulties were also related to the context in which we started… If on the one hand working in Naples could have been an advantage – because, in a sense, we had no competitors – on the other hand we had to collide with the mentality of people who couldn’t, and cannot, really understand the concepts of digital PR and web marketing. Here, even today the greatest difficulty is still that of succeeding in doing web marketing and digital PR… It is a bit like sex in middle/high school: everyone talks about it but no one really does it.
FY - What is NSS today?
WD - Today NSS is a creative agency that uses the web to promote our work in the best way possible. In other words, the web becomes a showcase for what we do every day.
FY - Fashion, music, design and above all street-style… Yes, street-style… You have been among the first ones in Italy to ride the wave that had overwhelmed both the United States and Japan. You have revolutionized the obsolete role of the cool-hunter by turning it into the absolute protagonist of today’s fashion. In your hands the camera turns into an attentive eye, always unconventional, able to capture the most interesting aspects inside and outside the fashion shows. Some of your reportages are unique, of undeniable originality… That said, in short, what is street-style for you?
WD - Good question… I think street style represents to some extent both the trends of the moment and those that will come. I think it’s a social and cultural movement, as a witness of our day’s customs… Not surprisingly, through the street-style photos we can see not only the multiple directions fashion can take but also the taste of the final consumer who can now live simultaneously the runaway’s proposals thanks to the 2.0 era. Here, in my opinion the 2.0 has also changed and in a sense turned upside down the pyramidal fashion system: if the first influences just came from above – that is fashion houses dictated the law at operating speed – now they also come from below, from the street… Subcultures declare their desire to make fashion.
FY - As we said, the real show is often what we see outside the parades. Professionals but especially unlikely patrons crowded in front of the entrance and gussied up with absurd frills… They, always waiting for one shot. They, thanks to which the pre-parade turns into a big circus… In all honesty, do you think this circus should be powered further? That the many improvised fashionist- bloggers’ working hopes should be based on the frenzied search for the right picture? Would not it be better to tell the “work behind the look,” in short, to make people understand the value of professionalism, sacrifices, study?
WD - Discourse is very complex and difficult to be fully defined because it is happening right now while we are discussing it. In my opinion I do not condemn the outside- parade and I do not absolutely think that it is becoming more important than the show itself. Let’s say that both have their own value but I would also like to point out that the real cool hunting – the one able to perceive, to hunt the future stylistic avant-garde
– it’s not that taking place outside the fashion show but is contextualized to situations even far from fashion intended as show, parade and such things. In any case, the outside parade has become an important element of web marketing and as such it should be kept an eye on and observed. Then, if bloggers are good they will surely find space in the fashion system… Generalization is not a right thing, in my opinion.
FY - Today, the more traditional media accuse blogs of misinformation. Conversely, the blogs accuse the traditional media of not being in step with the times. You have been able, successfully, to lay in the halfway between these two opposing dimensions. You have created a new language able to speak to young people, and not only, in a friendly and never superficial way… always a cutting edge one. So for you, what is the right way to do communication?
WD - Make war is not the way to go, we should work together and create synergies since both sides – blogger and institutional newspapers – need each other more than ever. On the one hand, bloggers have a fresher and more immediate approach and, above all, they have understood before the others the Web’s benefits and resources; on the other hand, journalists have the right skills to illustrate and provide valuable content, skills and experiences related to their studies. So a right mix is the winning recipe: a simple and “fast” language but good, deep, not superficial and first of all reasonable contents.
FY - Just this year you have set up the Streetstyle Award... Who is the ideal candidate?
WD - My ideal candidate is a person so sensitive to stylistic change that he identifies before the others what will become the trend. The 2.0 era’s ideal candidate is a person provided with a good sense of style, who ha a personal “digital weight” and who represents a trend, a possible avant-garde in which the mainstream and the companies can identify. FWSA’s candidates represent a mix between the two personalities.
FY - JouJou Villery by Eleonora Carisi, Velum by Giuseppe Damato, Go baby’s room by Greta Arienti are just some of the Nss’ satellite-projects that, in a very short time, have become themselves both a benchmark for online information and real phenomena of worship for fashion addicted… How important is this Nss’ “associative” dimension and how useful to believe in and support the others’ eureka moments could be to grow, improve, learn and make people know?
WD - It is essential. It is just the basis of our work… To collaborate, create new synergies, develop a network allows you to offer as good and varied as possible contents. Nss is closely linked to its network and in not too long times we still plan to launch other and different stylistic realities in order to make our offer larger and larger.
FY - Instead, what does NssFactory want to be?
WD - NssFactory has become the mother of Naplestreetstyle.com first and that of Nssmag.com then. It contains quite everything we do… from communication, through digital, up to distribution and production.
FY - Collateral, certainly related to NssFactory is the project Via Sannio 20, a Showroom born from the will and the desire to provide the fashion market’s expectations with good alternatives… Tell us about!
WD - Via Sannio 20 is a young project, born from the desire to offer the fashion market an alternative to the brands already existing in the national scene. It is in collaboration with the Due di Picche’s guys and we hope to establish ourselves gradually as a new reality in the field of retail.
FY - There is also a clothing line: Giuro che domani smetto (GCDS). How was it born?
WD - GCDS is a game and it comes from a party with Vincenzo Paccone – still my companion in the adventure – a couple of years ago. It was closely linked to the clubbing world and above all it was our first experiment in web marketing, guerilla and viral… In other words, it has been a little our gym. On the other hand, today it is a collection itself, evolving continuously and in the balance between the street and the new Northern Europe phenomenon.
FY - Who does it want to dress?
WD - Certainly it isn’t a collection purely conceived for the Italian public as the volumes, and today also the prints, are more related to either the new UK scene or the Asian market. It is a person having a feeling for the fashion world and who wants to wear something that is not already super inflated. A person who wants at the same time to feel comfortable and do not take himself/herself too seriously.
FY - The 2013-14 F/W Collection is a mix of sportswear and the British tailoring’s most authentic tradition. It is a unisex collection: no difference, no rules, just fun… Tell us about it!
WD - The new F/W collection is a departure from what we have done so far, that is it leaves a little the total black which had marked us in the past in favor of a sporty flavor that finds its roots in the 80’s and especially the 90’s. It mirrors a lot the stylistic change I am personally experiencing: I would like to go back in the 90’s and wear the American teams’ sweatshirts. The British tradition, the use of tartan, pinstripe and almost sartorial lines also reflects the willingness to interact with a more mature, more aware of what is going to buy consumer. And then… The mix of sporty and tailored, in my opinion, is very interesting and will be developed further because, as I said, it helps people not to take themselves too seriously.
FY - Which is Walter’s style? What cannot absolutely lack in your closet?
WD - A black t-shirt, a pair of black Converse, black pants… a sort of uniform… I could wear more or less the same things always… The only crush of the moment: key ring chain for pants…
FY – What made your initiative winning and what advice would you give to those who intend to embark on a journey similar to yours?
WD - Our initiatives are quite successful because they are realized with the passion and the will typical of those who never feel satisfied but always want to go over… It may seem trivial but it just this way… A positive approach is the smart move…
The advice is to be always humble and never become full of yourself but above all not to take yourself too seriously… At the end it’s a game, you can win or you can lose, what matters is how you do it.
FY - Four adjectives to describe you, Vincenzo, Simon and Nss?
WD - Is difficult to describe myself and even harder to describe Vincenzo and Simon… Or better… Perhaps it’s just Nss, and the world revolving around it, which can describe us better than anything else… Now we are what we do.
FY - Your future projects?
WD - A lot of future projects… Really a lot… the most important ones, FWSA 2014, a wholly secret new media project, Asia and then we’ll see.
FY - Thank you very much!
WD - Thanks to you.