From Journalist to Chief Editor of VOGUE Bambini over Wedding Book Writer to Head of PR and Marketing at PITTI…
Giuliana Parabiago not only runs all Marketing and PR activities at PITTI Immagine, Italy’s famous fashion fair – she is also a journalist and former Chief Editor of VOGUE Bambini and an accomplished author of two books,’ The Wedding Planner’ and ‚I Do! Royal Weddings, Royal Gifts’.
We met with this lovely, inspiring, lady who is one of the most important people in the kid’s fashion industry to talk about the influence of digital technology, why everyone loves the Royals so much, her memories of childhood role models and her thoughts on the future of kids fashion.
The interview took place in Giulianas PITTI Immagine office in Milan where the walls in her small office are covered in photos and paintings of all shapes and sizes…a beautiful little space.
Sophie Spethmann for Barbara Frères Online Magazine:
You surely know all the children’s fashion brands. What brands would you dress your children in today?
In very, very different styles. I have a style, but it changes. Sometimes its ethnic, sometimes chic, sometimes bright and bold like Stella Jean. So I think for a child, I would choose many different styles, not always the same. Not just one brand, forever and always.
As a mother, when choosing clothes for children, it is important to also be a bit critical. When you see a fashion show, you should be able to say ‘this is okay for you, not for me’. For example, I am not a Versace woman, but I can understand the brand’s style. Sometimes as a mom it’s difficult to have that sense of critic when it comes to your children’s clothes.
Do you think social media has an influence on how children are dressing? Do you see a change there?
Nowadays, we can’t separate our life and social media. Social media is in our life everywhere, all the time. And so, yes, it influences the childrenswear too, I am sure. How, is not so easy to answer.
Are children themselves starting to use digital media more?
There are some children on Instagram, for example the boy with the big, big hair (Farouk James, known mostly for his wonderful hair, has over 80,000 followers on Instagram). Many people follow him and his life as he grows up. It is very difficult to separate the different things that influence us and our children nowadays. I’m sure everything is influencing us in part and influencing the children’s style also.
If you were a parent of a 10-year-old daughter who follows models and wants to wear the same clothes, how could you help her stay true to her own character?
Don’t insist. Don’t tell them no, because it’s the same as saying yes. It is impossible that the child can live in a sort of glass bubble of protection. You can help them to judge and react to experiences in the right way without spoiling them. Your responsibility is to turn the experiences into valuable life lessons.
Who were your role models in childhood?
My teacher at school. I was 11, 12. She was older (50) and very serious. She was a role model because I wanted to grow up immediately, and I wanted to be an adult. Why? I dreamed to be free. I wanted to be free to eat when I want, sleep when I want, go out at 18… I always wanted a dog, so the day I turned 18, I bought one.
I wanted to learn many many things, because learning many things would be the way to become free. Freedom is important in my life. Decisions on everything, life and job, opinions. Freedom of choice is a real luxury to me.
As a child I read fashion magazines like Grazia and Ariana which my mother bought. I would cut out the models and the clothes and then style the models in different outfits. I invented my own fashion, designer and stylist game. So, my role models were on the one hand fashion icons, on the other hand I looked up to people who lived in wild nature, as I considered them truly free. Not singers, not actors.
As an accomplished author you have published a book about royal weddings, the phenomenon of royalty and written about Prince George being influential (Tatler named the Prince as the world’s most ‘Influential Toddler’ in 2015). Why is there so much interest in royal families?
People love them because they are perfect. They have the right outfit in the right situation, and we’re losing this education. For example, Prince George has been photographed in pyjamas, and yet he looks perfect. He does not wear a T-shirt with active pants or a Batman costume (Prince George was pictured wearing classic blue pyjamas and a monogrammed bathrobe, when he met President Obama at Kensington Palace in April 2016). People can’t explain why they love it, but inside they feel it. Most of us do not take the time to dress ourselves or our children well – we get distracted, we pay no attention. We don’t take care.
Kate (Duchess of Cambridge) has a style that is classic but not boring. She has a twist. She is a little special. She doesn’t spend a lot of money so, there is not so much distance between the royal family and members of the public, like before. That is also nice for the people. They can learn from her. Teaching the right style in the right situation and time. The royal family can set an example.
How do you see the role of digital technology as a sales channel? Will it change the market?
Everything is changed by digital technology. There is real life and online life. We need face-to-face contact, as this online life does not fulfill our need to see, speak and touch each other. Social contact is more important than before. Nothing can replace it. We are human beings and sometimes, human contact is necessary.
The same goes for the physical shop. In a real shop you have such pleasures as coming with a friend, speaking, looking, touching and having that special shopping experience. This will always be needed. This is forever. In the future, the shop could be more of a showroom, sure. But a world without shops will not happen. It is like going to cinema or a restaurant, you can eat at home but there is a reason for restaurants. The reason is the experience.
When the big brands entered children’s fashion, it was suddenly harder for smaller brands to find their space. However, they seem to be fighting back successfully. Where do you see the future for children’s fashion?
In the future I see ‘concept stores’. Clothes will not be alone in a store. They will be there, alongside home items, bicycles etc. It will be impossible to sell a shirt without a world around it. Chairs, books and clothes too – but not only clothes. PITTI will go in this direction…books, clothes, beds, lamps, furniture – everything for kids. This is the future.
What is currently the biggest trend in kids fashion?
In all fashion, there is a new trend of responsibility and ecology. It’s all going this way so it will go to childrenswear too. Green, and biological fabrics.
What is the one thing you would change in the fashion industry looking at children?
Child labor. This is my personal dream, that the fashion industry would completely abolish child labor.