Interview : Nicolai Marciano of GUESS?, Inc and GUESS Jeans U.S.A.

Nicolai Marciano is the new generation of creators – tapping into GUESS Inc’s strong heritage and innovation with new approaches to create products that speak to the consumers today. Much like what GUESS JEANS U.S.A means to GUESS (the main line) as the sub-brand that serves as the incubator division that facilitate capsule collections and collaborations with the likes of  A$AP Rocky and Places + Faces. We got to sit down with Nicolai and dig into his stories about what he does and what goes on behind all the collaborations

Tell us what do you do?
I am director for brand partnership for GUESS and Guess Jeans U.S.A. Basically GUESS JEANS U.S.A is our incubator division of the brand doing a lot of capsules and collaborations all derived from the GUESS archive. The distribution would go into specialty stores, pop-ups and activations. None of it goes back to the main GUESS stores, it kinda serves as the NIKELAB for the brand. On the bigger side, I am also doing partnership on GUESS level with bigger collaboration. The main objective of the brand is to bring new perspective for the younger generation. GUESS as a brand has been around for 40 years, the current consumers might know the lifestyle and commercial side of the brand but they don’t know the heritage like why the brand is here.
 
We were the pioneer of doing marketing campaigns and photography with the likes of Ann Nicole Smith and Claudia Schiffer from marketing point of view. At the same time we were also doing a lot of innovation thing for product wise like we popularised stone wash denim. Then we created acid wash and printed denim. Denim wasn’t such a fashion item back in the 80s and I think we popularise it in a big way.
We continue to keep that legacy going like with working with Places + Faces since reflectivity is big part of their brand so we take it in and see how can we do something special.  Being able to create this fabric with 3M intertwined into yarn from the denim to the stripe shirts. Something that no one has seen before  yet it is true to our brand’s heritage and also something that is part of their brand. It is always interesting to bring in collaborator to see what can we do as part of their brand.

Speaking of innovation, how heavily is GUESS invested into R&D and innovation?
We have big R&D department and a denim laundry on-site so we do a lot of denim washing. We use our R&D department for creating new products. Basically we have a dream then we bring it to them to make it come to life. It is an interesting time to be creating in a fashion space because technology is at a crazy point where anything is possible. And that is what we can offer to our collaborators because we have such a big infrastructure in that we really be able to create whatever they want to do.

So how do you select your collaborators?
It depends. We always find the best story to tell why is GUESS working with this brand or person. Whatever it is we always want o feel organic and make sense for us. I hate the idea of brands collaborating for the sake of collaboration just to make money. We should be doing something interesting and something new together as a collaboration.

So is Social Media where you find newness or potential collaborators?
I use social media to stay current of course. But in GUESS, we have an archive of clothing, graphics and photos. We can draw of lot of inspirations from the past that is still relevant today and just how are we retailing the stories in a different way yet still being original to the brand.
But in GUESS, we have an archive of clothing, graphics and photos. We can draw of lot of inspirations from the past that is still relevant today and just how we are retailing the stories in a different way yet still being original to the brand.

What defines a good collaboration to you?
I think it is more of how the story is being told, and how we are able to tell it together from how we do the content to shooting the campaign. Even up to all the details to from labels to fabric and designs.

Are there times that you have to step in to say NO to a collaborations?
We are pretty selective in what we do so we want every collaboration to be meaningful.  What we have been doing for the past 3 years for GUESS JEANS USA to keep a strong message on how we can collaborate and continue to get into this creative space and culture.

What is your favourite collaboration so far?
I think being able to collaborate with PLACES + FACES is by far my favourite collaboration. Being able to shoot film photography, we haven’t done it since 2001, we are adding a book to our photo archive . From a product standpoint, we are able to create this reflective fabric, it is still original to the GUESS design but it’s done in a new creative way. Doing the 360 from product to content to creative, this is really special.

Your favourite pieces from the collection?

The vest, the rain coat and stripe tees. CIESAY was in London a few months ago. Octavian was performing in the (reflective) shirt and I am just imagining from the audience standpoint that they take out their phones and turn on the flash and suddenly he is glowing. They must be thinking what is happening here?! Being able to surprise or create something people haven’t seen before means a whole lot to me.

 
THANK YOU!

Find him on his Instagram @nicolaimarciano