Carmine Tateo, serial entrepreneur with experience in Biomedical, Real Estate and Fashion sectors
Carmine Tateo ph. by Andy Martinez
"We don’t want to create a trend, we want to create a lifestyle." - Carmine Tateo
How did you get into fashion? Please, share with our audience the key moments of your career?
Carmine: I’ve always been interested in design, even when I was a child. My mother was a Premier (Head of an Atelier) so I basically grew up between patterns and fabrics. When I moved to Milano that sense of design grew exponentially but life took me in different sectors. I founded a worldwide recognized medical company, then invested in real estate and later on opened a restaurant in Ostuni, Puglia. As a serial entrepreneur I had so much going on but I felt something was missing. At the beginning of 2016, just as if it was destiny, an opportunity to buy a fashion brand came on my way. And that was it, I finally found what I was missing.
Has your biomedical experience helped you with your current occupation in any way?
Carmine: Absolutely, it has taught me many lessons and not just in the biomedical sector but life lessons. When I founded the Biomedical company, I was the first to offer our clients very specific services and with that in our favor we grew exponentially and super-fast which made me learn how to be very disciplined and determined and that has remained with me until today.
What is the idea behind Esme Vie?
Carmine: The idea behind Esme Vie is to create timeless pieces and objects of inspiration throughout time. That one woman can wear it today or in 10 years from now and still feel elegant and chic.
Where do you look for inspiration when working on a new collection?
Carmine: Nature. It has always had and always will be our inspiration. From its colors, textures and light games. What also inspire us are the classic women from the 50`s. Their timeless elegance and sense of style are our drive to create pieces that will pass the test of time.
Why do you think it is so important to focus on quality and individuality?
Carmine: If you are not unique, there’s no point on having your brand. We don’t want to create a trend, we want to create a lifestyle. And that is created with craftsmanship, top and ethically sourced materials and a fair-trade production chain.
What is the most difficult aspect of managing your own brand?
Carmine: Make people understand the real value of materials and craftsmanship. Sometimes we receive inquiries of new clients that want the dress in 2 or 3 days and that sometimes bargain the price and what is difficult is to make them understand is that each dress of us is handmade in our Milan Atelier in an extensive time process and with the best silk of the world coming from Lake Como. So, all of that has to be covered by a sustainable shopping. We are definitely fast fashion, we are investment pieces.
What is your take on sustainable fashion?
Carmine: The brand has always pursued a zero-waste policy. Considering that most of our pieces are under pre-order, the brand has always avoided mass production in order to keep a high-quality craftsmanship and we only use as much fabric as needed. Waste, stock and fabric leftovers are avoided. The only scraps of fabric produced are then re-utilized to craft flowers and multiple embellishments that are entirely hand-made by a local artisan in Milan. Esme Vie´s mindfulness towards the environment expands into our packaging as well that is made out of cardboard and is totally biodegradable. Moreover, it is a brand policy not to use polyester and/or other artificial fabrics that are harmful to the planet and that would belittle the brand’s perceived and actual value. The high control Esme Vie has on the value chain allows the brand to achieve a higher transparency towards the customer.
Your brand is extremely successful in the Middle East. Do you have a strategic plan to make it more popular in the other parts of the world?
Carmine: Yes, we are currently working in globalizing our brand with a new section of ready to wear as part of our upcoming Fall Winter 2022 collection. The future with Covid-19 is uncertain and we have to evolve with it, we can’t just do Couture because nobody wears couture at home right?
Are there any tips you would give those who want to work in fashion based on your own experience, that you entered the world of fashion without primary background in fashion?
Carmine: Yes, to take a deep breath. It’s not easy, I think fashion is a harder sector than any other one. You have to be very careful with deadlines, costs, communications, etc and those are things that you only learn on the road. My best advice: partner with someone that knows the industry.
How the COVID-19 pandemic influenced your business?
Carmine: Despite it being a difficult moment, the pandemic has led us to concentrate on the true values of the brand and reassess what Esme Vie is and aspires to be. One of the main issues we faced concerned the production and delivery of ongoing orders but we successfully managed to deal with the organization of everyday activities thanks to the flexibility and passion of our team who rearranged its duties, moving the atelier into their homes. This was helpful to understand that we had to get ready for a new era of fashion, investing in people and real values. Esme Vie is now reshaping its offer and will launch a new ready-to-wear line which will be characterized by a “more relaxed” taste, creating cross-functional loungewear which will meet stay-at-home needs as well as a social setting. One thing hasn't changed though: traditional Italian craftsmanship is and will always be a pillar of Esme Vie, an asset the brand will never give up.
What is the future of the fashion industry in the post-COVID-19 period?
Carmine: I think transparency, consumers want to see a more human part of brands as well as sustainability. Slow fashion, in my opinion, will overcome fast-fashion and people will be more conscious in their purchases. People will feel the ethic need to buy investment pieces rather than fast fashion pieces.
What digital technologies are influencing the fashion industry the most?
Carmine: Virtual runways and showrooms. Now due to Covid the industry has been forced to evolve with it and use what we have on hand: Digital technologies. Now buyers are demanding not only real pictures of the dresses but also a virtual scene with the object in movement. What advice would you like to give to those who are dreaming to become part of the fashion world?
Carmine: To sit tight, it’s not easy. It’s an industry where you can dream of creating the most astonishing piece but you also have to be realistic with costs, production challenges, calendars etc. So, it’s better to be aware of all of that before entering this industry.
What future do you predict for independent fashion brands? How should they build their communication to get noticed?
Carmine: I think that the future for independent fashion brands relies on their values. I think if they have transparent approaches consumers will appreciate that and bond with them. Once this bond is created, they have to create a strong communication through social media platforms and evolve with them. Keep updated (always with their core concept) with all the new interactive features IG offers and to also have an e-commerce on their own besides being with retailers.