It's hard to pin down Marcelo Burlon. The Patagonia-native, Milan-based designer, DJ, creative director, and whatever else probably requires an industrial-strength stapler if he were to ever put together a comprehensive resume. And just because his T-shirts have enjoyed a meteoric rise to the top of countless athletes, rappers, and cool dudes' shopping lists doesn't mean he's going to stop and smell the roses. The dude is working with some of the biggest names out there in fashion and music, and has some secrets up his sleeve of how he's going to transform the mecca of menswear...
Marcelo, welcome to New York. What brings you to NY?
Fashion Week, but mostly representing the County of Pusha. We did a special collaboration with all the merchandising for the tour with 2 Chainz. It's about five T-shirts, five iPhone cases, shoelaces, bandanas, 5-panel caps. So we are presenting the collection at Opening Ceremony and tonight is going to be the show.
We’re family now, it’s like we’re sharing the same visions and the same aesthetic.
And it’s a lot cheaper than regular County of Milan stuff?
Yeah, absolutely. The quality is a little lower but it’s still pretty good. It’s about $30 per T-shirt. It’s very cheap actually.
Why did you guys do this?
Because we want everyone to wear it, you know. We want the kids to buy it. A County of Milan T-shirt is like $180 in my regular collection and so we did this collaboration to offer a less expensive version.
What do you think about giving kids a taste or access to a more high fashion label or artistically inclined and more expensive label like yours?
We kinda like to educate the kids to, "Hey this is what we’re doing." His music, my clothes, my graphics. We put together our hats and this is what came out. Of course the kids can’t afford to buy a $200 T-shirt. But with this because the graphics are the same quality, now they're in the club.
Do you think that you’ve gained a different or new fan base through Pusha T?
Yeah, I think my people and his people can overlap. I think it’s a very smart thing. My people that never heard about Pusha before, and his people that never heard about me. We’re family now, it’s like we’re sharing the same visions and the same aesthetic.
What do you think of his latest album?
I think it’s great, the bass is amazing.
Do you have a favorite song?
Yeah, “Suicide”. The one where he’s in all my T-shirts in the video.
How has your aesthetic developed over the years? After seeing the fall ‘14 stuff, it’s definitely recognizable but it’s come a long way.
Well we started with T-shirts of course, then shorts and swim shorts. It’s growing and the quality also of the product is pretty amazing. It’s all made in Italy and around Europe. I don’t know it’s super interesting also because I’m not a designer. And I don’t want to be a designer, this is not my thing at all.
It's always nice to try new things. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. But at least you tried.
What do you wanna be?
I wanna be me and try to do a new thing. I’m a creative director, I’m a DJ, stylist, whatever.
A renaissance man.
Kind of. I don’t know if I represent that new way. There’s many kids out there that do many things. It’s about music, it's about fashion, it’s everything together. When I think about a new product to put inside the collection, first of all I think about what I would wear and then we work around the piece.
One person that stands out as a music, fashion, lifestyle-focused guy is Virgil Abloh, a friend of yours. Do you guys connect on that level of being so interested in so many things?
Yeah, everytime I see Virgil it’s like we can’t stop talking. There’s many things in common and there’s so much to learn from the other. I think that’s a great thing.
And you partnered with him on Off-White.
Yeah, we just became partners on Off-White LTD. Which has nothing to do with County of Milan even if it involves some of the same people. Me, Davide de Giglio, Claudio Antonioli and Virgil own the Off-White operating company. All the creative aspects are all Virgil.
What you think of the debut collection of Off White?
The debut collection? It's great. I think it’s super wearable. There’s a few pieces that I wanna order for myself. But I’m the owner too so I don’t have to ask. [Laughs]
Well long sleeves, the T-shirts, there’s some few black shirts that I like with a big white 13 on the back. Because 13 is a bad luck number in the US so he kind of like cancelled that with the diagonal stripes.
So your spring collection is out now.
Spring collection just came out in stores, people go crazy.
What are the stand out pieces?
The poncho. It’s all over snakes. What else do I like from that collection? I get bored so quickly because when you see a collection for six months already and now it’s in the stores I’m already sick.
You’re probably thinking of spring ‘15 right now.
I already want to wear the new one. Yeah we’re thinking about the new one this spring/summer collection that we will present at Pitti in Florence. We are the guests coming up that season like they have every season. It's been Raf Simons, then Rick Owens, Kris Van Assche, and Kistuné, and now it’s County of Milan.
How do you feel to be in that company?
I feel great. First of all, I've known Pitti for a long time and I want to do something new. I don’t want to say I’m gonna do better than the others but I’m gonna bring my inner world into Pitti. I'm gonna bring three buses full of people from Milan. It’s gonna be a big performance and big party.
Yeah, big performance and huge party.
So you’re gonna shake it up.
Yeah we try to refresh Florence.
Is Florence boring over all?
No, it’s not boring. It’s just like, everything is too..
Suits and tailoring?
Yeah, suits and classic. They don’t really focus on this kind of, I guess streetwear.
Do you think that’s changing at all or are you gonna change that?
I’m gonna change that. I hope I can go there every year. I can be the guest every year. I wish they can give me a section in Pitti so I can bring new brands to present.
What do you think of the recent phenomenon of people trying to find that middle ground between high fashion and streetwear? Even with Off-White, Virgil was saying the goal is to bring the best of both worlds together and do that correctly. Do you think there's a way to bring classics and tailoring to meet with streetwear somewhere in the middle?
Are you trying to do that?
Well we just did that working with Borsalino 1857. We just did that which is a classic but mix it with my stuff, it’s quite interesting. It's always nice to try new things. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. But at least you tried.
Can you talk about why you focused on basketball and skateboarding in the fall/winter 2014 collection?
Skateboarding because I used to go and skateboard when I was little in Argentina so I have a few scars on my body. I always liked skateboarding.
Do you still skate?
A little bit. I like longboards better. I feel more safe, and I like speed. My thing is that I like speed, even when I go ski I’m going straight down. I don’t care about anything, I just go down with my skis straight. Love speed.
Basketball because LeBron, because all these basketball players are wearing my T-shirts and they really love my stuff and I was like, "Why not? Let's do a few basketballs and a basketball holder for Eastpak as well."
What else is in the pipeline that you can speak about?
The Eastpak is coming out also with the fall/winter collection all over the world. That's quite big. We did four backpacks and two iPad cases. You will see a big thing with Barney’s. I can’t say anything but you will see something big for a basketball player. Huge.
You’ve always got stuff on the horizon.
You’re gonna be very warm. That's all I'll say.