Umberto “Umby” is a Sardinian born designer who named his brand after his mother’s name. Despite of being a good son, Umby launched his own womenswear line in 2014 and ever since plays with sophisticated looks – entirely made in Italy with love. We had a chat with the designer and talked about red moustaches, couture garments as a family business and fashion of course.
Hi Umby! Nice to virtually meet you! Feel free to introduce yourself.
I’m Umberto. Foddis is my mother’s name but it’s also the name of my brand. I was born in Rome but my roots are 100% Sardinian. It is a very nice island with an incredible light and plenty of amazing scents and colours. I guess that makes me pretty Mediterranean but, in reality, I am completely schizophrenic with half of my mind is influenced by my Southern origins and the other half by the urban culture of big Northern cities like London, Paris or Berlin. What can I add? I have very soft hands and, sometimes, I like to wear a red moustache.
When did you start fashion and why?
My family has always been working in the fashion industry, producing high-end couture garments for reputed designers like Olivier Theyskens, Chloe, Erdem or Ermanno Scervino. It’s gonna sound awfully banal but it all began when I was about 8 years old, starting to make miniature versions of the models that my mother was doing for her clients. When I was 14, I started to work for one of Rome’s historical fashion houses, Gattinoni, the house of the dolce vita and its glamorous Hollywood stars, Audrey Hepburn, Anita Ekberg and so on…I quickly became first assistant.
How did you create your first line?
I created my first line when I was 24 years old and sold it in Milan. It went pretty well at the time but I did not have enough money so I decided to work for other brands for a while and save money. Now I am back in the game! I have gained enough experience and I feel more ready to express myself. It would be pretentious to say that I know 100% what I want to say, but it’s getting clearer – it’s a process.
What gave you the courage to enter in the current fashion madness? Considering that lots of independent brands struggle to survive within the industry…
My work and my life are very much entangled and fashion has always been around me, so I don’t find it particularly courageous to start. In Italy, we have plenty of family businesses and in a way we are all survivors, not only in the fashion industry but in most sectors. I feel reassured by the fact that I can produce a good part of my collection in-house, with very professional and talented people. And my brain is always bubbling with ideas!
Is it hard for you, as a young designer, to break through in the main fashion cities, like Milan or Paris?
It’s certainly not easy, as buyers give priority to established brands. However, there are still a lot of people that come to the big fashion cities, especially Paris, because they are genuinely interested in the clothes themselves, and that’s where young designers like me can try to compete. This said, I wouldn’t mind if there were a bit less of us but, on the other hand, it’s stimulating! All this creativity is pushing me forward.
What type of woman inspires you? What kind of femininity do you try to create through your collection?
I am inspired by a quite glamorous type of woman. I guess it’s because of my Italian roots. We are bombarded by glamour here. Now, this woman is also free, sophisticated and full of life. She has a positive attitude and she has found the right balance between seducing and being herself.
In which direction would you like to push your own line? Any exclusive news for the near future?
I really want to explore new shapes and volumes, with lots of fluidity and fantasy. At the same time, I will very much continue to focus on the quality of fabrics, with refined and innovative finishings. We have proper traditional production skills here in Italy and I certainly want to make the best use of that.
Paris, for www.nowfashion.com