In the year or so since Agyesh Madan left his position as Product Development Manager at Isaia he’s been busy collecting. Not clothing, the predictable pursuit for a man with Agyesh’s pedigree (to his credit Agyesh describes his personal wardrobe as miniscule) but passport stamps. Born into a military family, Agyesh moved constantly as a child, and he’s carried that transient spirit into his adulthood with recent trips to places like China, India, and Italy. It’s the Italian stamp which I imagine takes up the greatest chunk of Agyesh’s passport. While at Isaia, Agyesh’s frequent trips to Italy to meet with factories and fabric suppliers fostered within him a deep appreciation for the tactile side of clothing design. Since leaving the Napoli based brand last year, Agyesh’s infatuation with all forms of manufacturing has manifest itself in Stoffa, the all Italian-made accessories label which he launched late last month.
Agyesh was friendly with some of the factories that he partnered with for Stoffa from his time at Isaia, but he says that he found many of them by simply driving through the Italian countryside on weekends. These factories are like playgrounds to Agyesh, who despite his formal training (he holds a degree from Parsons) derives the most joy from simply holding a piece of fabric in his hands. He tells me that at Isaia, the actual “design” of a collection took just about a week. The rest of his time was spent in factories, sifting through yarns and studying different production techniques.
Agyesh has taken the same approach with Stoffa. Nothing is designed per se, rather it’s molded like a pot from clay. The end products are interesting but the source material is still critical to their appeal. The rabbit and beaver hats are distinguished primarily by their pliable materials, which Agyesh found at an equestrian trade show rather than a fabric fair. This is what really sets Agyesh, and as a result Stoffa, apart – he has an uncanny desire to travel the world and find the unknown at a time when most factories or fabric providers can be found with the click of a mouse.
“Classics with a twist” has been overused to the point of triviality, but even in its purest form, that phrase would merely glaze over what Agyesh is striving to achieve with Stoffa. He’s not reinventing the wheel, he’s making a better one. As Agyesh discovers new techniques and textiles, he’s asking himself “what can I do with this?” So far, what he’s done is create knit ties in zig-zagged patterns that we’ve never seen before, scarves that are light enough to strike fear in the hearts of cashmere kings, and pocket squares that look like old school Ferragamo designs, but were actually screen-printed with state of the art machines.
Agyesh does not consider himself to be a designer, and many such professionals that we’ve spoken to like to say this, but with Agyesh, it’s an honest statement rather than a marketing hook. He’s not a designer, he’s a traveler, and Stoffa is his collection of souvenirs. We’re just glad he decided to share them with the world.