Let’s start with the numbers. Mariano Di Vaio was born on May 9, 1989, in Assisi. At 18 he moved to London, then to New York where he worked as a testimonial and ambassador, in 2011 he returned to Italy where he began to gain international fame working for major fashion houses. In 2012 he opened a website that deals with fashion and cinema, success is immediate, Mariano opens a profile on Instagram that now has over 11 million followers, second in Italy only to Chiara Ferragni (12.8 million). Top influencer, entrepreneur and creative director Di Vaio has a line of jewelry, a collection of eyewear and leather goods, an e-commerce that sells the biggest names in fashion, billing several million euros a year. In March 2018 Forbes nominates him as one of the under 30 most influential Italian men in the world. Married, he has a son, and another baby coming. GQ met him in Milan, on the occasion of the presentation of his first clothing collection, discovering that the boy has his feet on the ground, and that beyond the numbers there is more.
What did you dream of becoming a child?
(laughs out of taste) “A motorcycle rider. I’ve always been a big fan of Valentino Rossi, I consider him my sporting idol of all time, and I’m still a fan of motorbikes, I make cross bikes, street bikes, let’s say that was the dream. Then…”.
Then what happened?
“I traveled a lot, first in England then in New York, there I had a Chinese friend who lived with me, who was fixed with internet, reviewed all the sites reading the various reviews to find the best restaurant for Chinese cuisine at cheap prices , or the most convenient apartment that would have saved us, at the time we were traveling a lot. I knew only MySpace and Facebook, and seeing him I got the idea: I told myself I open a blog of cinema and fashion. From there everything was born, I had opened a page on FB dedicated to the blog and I edited the photos that I published with Istagram. Initially for me Instagram was just a means of filtering the photos I was doing for my blog. Only later did I discover that there were so many people using Instagram, because the number of people who followed my profile began to grow “.
Have you always had a passion for fashion?
“I’ve always had it. Although as a boy he was more skater, which is still the one that represents me best, I feel very urban as a spirit. I started working in fashion since I was 17, I had a long blond hair, a long slug and often they called me, even in Umbria, for small jobs. I started working for Wella, and from there slowly I realized that it was an easy way to make some money, when I went to London the first thing I looked for was a fashion agency to better pay my rent. Over time I became passionate, it gave me pleasure to see the work of stylists “.
And then the money came and you made a lot of money.
“I made a lot of them (laughs). I never imagined being able to earn so much money in my life, if I had asked 5 years ago I would not have bet even a euro. But I’m very careful about the expenses I make, I’m very careful both in large and small expenses, I study a lot of things I do, I never asked for a loan and I always invested everything in my companies that today are two. Even today I am free from banks, from loans and this I understood to be a positive thing, and I am happy because I have always invested in the structures, in the guys who work with me, and who are the soul of the company, above all because there are no I full-time commitment to look for the right people who can fill my gaps. Because I realize that I have several limitations: I have never studied economics, I have never studied fashion, I did not do IED or schools like that, so I always looked for competent people who could better interpret my ideas “.
A whim you will be taken away …
“Lots. But in reality I am a very down to earth, for me the biggest whim was being able to bring on vacation all my family: go to my father and say “I’ll take you there on vacation” that was the most beautiful satisfaction . Beyond a car or a watch that you can buy, that was the greatest joy. It will also be because I grew up appreciating the little things, my father gave us pocket money only if I cut the lawn of the house for example … ”
The phenomenon of influencers as you see it? Are there too many? Today we are talking a lot about micro influencers. Do you condone an impruder?
“The other day, during my speech at the Cattolica, a group of young people asked me if it bothered me that they call me influencer .. The truth is that I’m an entrepreneur, an influencer, and a fashion blogger. I do not like labels, but let’s say it does not make me ashamed to call me one way rather than another. In life I love doing many things, as in sports, I do not have a favorite, but I do a lot. Ditto at work. It is not said that those who do more things at the same time should do them harm. I think that the role of the influencer is a bit like all things related to the law of supply and demand: if there are so many people who also follow these smaller profiles on social media it means that people need it: people like to follow these people from which it takes inspiration, motivate you, give you the desire to do, and it is also right to diversify, choosing to follow even those who maybe has 30 thousand followers but has something that can communicate “.
How long will the influencers last?
“I always said they would not last long. I thought they would have died long before, and I was wrong, today to see how things are, it did not go as I imagined. The platforms continue to evolve, Instagram 4 years ago was just square photos, then they became horizontal photos, then square and horizontal, then video of 12, then 30, then 60 seconds, and there you put in motion many creative people. Now it’s the boom of these guys who make the comedy videos because they entertain, in the end it’s a matter of entertainment, who is better at making good entertainment content, the more successful you have, the more you make, the more you share. As long as people need it there will be, obviously there is a need, people will like to follow people, like me to taste follow other people, get inspired, motivate by people who are successful, do things, taste me “.
By the way, what did Chiara Ferragni teach you?
“One of the people who inspired me most was Riccardo Pozzoli, for him I have a great esteem. I think he was a forerunner in what he did, he saw us really long. The merit of creating this world is due to him, and I learned a lot from him, also because I was lucky enough to become his friend, we have many passions in common: the bikes! Chiara has always struck me for her safety, for her self-awareness. He was not afraid of being judged, especially at the beginning, when there was however a lot of criticality around the world of fashion bloggers “.
Well still today it’s a bit like that …
“True, even today it is so but it is a bit ‘different, I always say: I’m not a journalist, I’m not a stylist, I talk about what I like, people follow me because I’m obviously nice, he likes the way I say, then over time I learned, I studied, I stuck on certain things that I wanted to learn, today I say that I am a creative, I have people with me who draw, I have ideas that the guys with me interpret. But Chiara has always struck me for that serenity, I have always been calm and proud of me but she is even more so. From that point of view I esteemed it a lot “.
And then your first fashion collection has arrived. How was born
“I created Nohow three years ago that is an e-commerce that is having a lot of success and in which I enjoyed doing everything: from the shirt ripped to the bag, to the splattered jeans, to make even pieces that I did not fully represent But I knew people were wearing them. Then a year and a half ago I had the idea to do something of mine, that is, to make pieces that I would put myself from the first to the last. I wanted to do it better, but then I did not even have the economic strength, it was not yet time. Then that moment arrived, everything was aligned, even my communication character, I could not continue doing things that people would perceive as not mine. So it was a natural evolution, I got married, I became a father, I built a more adult image, I feel less kid, less ironic than before, I did things that now I do not anymore. And then I realized it was the right time to do it. I started to get interested in the various companies, look for fabrics, find tailors, shirt makers, inform me about the fit of jackets, trousers, cuts, types of seams and then I said ok, I want to do these things. And in two months I made my collection, of which I am fully satisfied “.
How would you tell it?
“It’s a collection of mine, 100% Italian, classic but downplayed because what I wanted to do, that I realized is not there, is a classic played down with a smile. So I made super classic clothes with the pants with the super low crotch, exaggerated pince, my tester was my father and my grandfather, I asked them for an opinion. The inspiration is in fact twenty / thirty years: I made the coppoline in linen, the gilet with reinvented cuts and with sophisticated buttons, the jackets with side slits.
How much does a dress cost?
“We are under a thousand euros for a dress, in this summer collection. For the winter I think the price will rise because we will use the finest materials “.
Where will you sell it?
“For now only online, how I was born. Let’s see how it will go ”
How do you see yourself in twenty years?
“Surfing in Hawaii? (Laughs) Eh I do not know. I see myself in Perugia, in the countryside, with my family, my children. I decided to stay in Umbria because I like the lifestyle, I live well, I’m trying to stay there. Let’s see what will be “.