Comprised of sporty pieces made from up cycled kites, Italian fashion brand EXKITE made its U.S. debut at Tribeca gallery The Supermarket this week.
The brand was born as a result of ex-pro kitesurfer Renzo Mancini’s desire to continue the journeys of his retired kites, which inspired him to turn to fashion as a means of immortalizing their stories. Soon enough, many other kite surfers were eagerly donating their kites to the project. “They don’t want to throw their kites away,” said Mancini. “They want to give it new life. It’s an instrument of pleasure, of fun, of emotion. It’s too sad to throw away.”
But Mancini was not always particularly interested in fashion. “I’m interested in style, but the real connection to fashion comes from my wife,” he remarked. She’s been working in fashion for many, many years, and this project is not only me but a combination of the two of us. So, I’m coming from the sport part, from kitesurfing, and she’s coming from the fashion part, and together we manage to create something unique.”
EXKITE is unique as a brand precisely because every piece it makes is unique. Mancini explains that every article of clothing is “completely different from the others because they come from different kites.” In a world where mass-produced fast fashion reigns and you can see several people wearing the same shirt within a few blocks of New York City, the one of a kind aspect of EXKITE’s designs is a refreshing and valuable asset of the brand. At the flagship store in Porto Cervo, clients can even choose which kite material they would like to see incorporated into their garment of choice. The personal dimension of EXKITE’s designs is emphasized by the wear of the kites that is apparent in each piece. “There is some more, some less,” said Mancini. “You can tell how much they’ve been used.” Furthermore, he points out that “inside, there is a trace of the people who flew the kites” in the form of a tag which lists the previous owner’s name, kite model, and places of playing. Creating an intimate relationship with the kitesurfer’s spirit for adventure is evidently a major aim of the brand.
While some pieces are almost fully constructed from used kites, others incorporate the kite material as accents. Mancini notes, for example, that “a little bit of the kite spirit is also in the t-shirt, where we used the kite in the pocket.” In terms of the pieces that are almost entirely constructed with kite material, the thin yet durable nature of the material makes them effective insulators. “It’s a strange sensation because it doesn’t make you warm,” says Mancini. “It doesn’t generate warmth, it just keeps it in.”
EXKITE’s designs are classic yet modern and come in a wide variety of conservative and experimental colors depending on the kites that were used to made them. As a result, the brand is accessible to a diverse range of consumers. “I was surprised by the people who bought the jackets,” remarked Mancini. “There are no rules of age or gender. Up to 80 years old, super fashionable, less fashionable, young, everything.”
Mancini was especially surprised by and proud of the fact that some of the biggest players in the fashion industry have endorsed or purchased EXKITE’s fashions. ”Mancini was especially surprised by and proud of the fact that some of the biggest players in the fashion industry have endorsed or purchased EXKITE’s fashions. Additionally, iconic buyer Olivia Kim selected EXKITE pieces to be sold at upscale department stores.
Currently, EXKITE pieces are being sold at H. Lorenzo in California, but when asked whether he planned to open an EXKITE store in the U.S., Mancini replied, “No, not now, but maybe we’d do a pop-up.”