Alanui is known for its cuddly, ethnic-style cardigans. The label’s co-founder is also its muse – that stylish Italian, Carlotta Oddi
When Carlotta Oddi flew to Hawaii a few years ago, a large vintage cardigan, a gift from her brother Nicolò, became her travel partner. The piece clothed her on the journey, but also covered her and warmed her. This experience became the cornerstone of her label, and the two siblings began their research. Inspired by travels and the iconic patterns of the American Southwest and Mexico, they developed a product that is characterized by (sibling) love, affection, and belonging. They launched the Alanui label together in Milan at the beginning of 2016.
To begin with, the label focused on just one product: an oversized cardigan with a tie belt, designed in bright colors and with a jacquard pattern. The pieces are made of Cariaggi cashmere, each one taking 11 hours to produce. The cardigans spread like wildfire, selling worldwide across Asia, Europe, the Middle East, Canada, and the USA.
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Of course, Carlotta Oddi herself steers a large part of that success – after all, she’s probably the label’s best testimonial. She’s admired by many for her individualistic look, a fact reflected in her 97,000 Instagram followers. Her own fashion combinations occupy a place between high fashion and the bohemian, and the cardigans fit in perfectly. When Alanui started last year, Carlotta and all of her friends in the fashion industry collectively donned the cardigans, and of course were followed by street style photographers, especially during the fashion weeks. That’s something that sticks out. Reports appeared in Vogue und Harper’s Bazaar. As a stylist and the long-time collaborator of fashion phenomenon Anna Dello Russo, she understands the industry.
With Alanui, the Italian siblings consciously decided not to base their garments on seasons, but rather on the kind of durability that won’t be immediately discarded and grows with its wearer instead. Their range is expanded cautiously, something that stands out in the age of increasingly rapid processes at work within the fashion industry. At the same time, it’s also a modern approach. For FW17, they are extending their selection to sweaters with fringe, cardigans with hoods, ponchos, and small accessories like cashmere hats. The cheerful spirit that surrounds all of the label’s cardigans is always included.
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This fall they launched their first collaboration with the concept store Colette. They developed three styles for adults and, for the first time, children, all in the boutique’s signature blue. Sarah Andelman, Colette’s founder and creative director, was the most excited: “The first time I saw someone wearing Alanui’s cardigan, I thought it was something unique, something giving you comfort and confidence, and warmth.”
Alanui means “large path” in the Hawaiian language. We assume that this will carry them a long way further.
In the following interview we were allowed to ask Carlotta Oddi some questions about the brand.
How would you describe Alanui in your own words?
It’s a journey through different cultures, inspirations, symbols, and experiences. It’s like Linus’s blanket from the Peanuts, and one that can follow you everywhere – a cuddle, a cashmere cuddle. While wearing it you feel cozy, safe, and comfortable.
What’s like to work with a family member?
We have always been very close and our different backgrounds complement each other. Nicolò is more business oriented and I am more into the creative side. It’s easier in a way, but it can be hard if you think there are no boundaries – then even a family reunion can result in a business meeting. We are actually trying to keep things separate, but it’s not the easiest thing to do!
What were the obstacles that you saw? And how did you deal with them?
It’s a continual process of learning. We started everything from step zero, so from dealing with designs, printing, deliveries, to the different yarns and the knitting techniques, everything was new, but very exciting. We have been working every day to realize one of our dreams for two years now. It’s not easy, but we find so much satisfaction in doing this. We face obstacles – many of them – and it can be hard to be humble, but we’re smiling at the same time.
What has been your most treasured moment since you started Alanui?
When we were contacted by Net-a-Porter through our Instagram page. They were interested in carrying Alanui on the website and it was an amazing moment and something we will cherish forever.
What role does Instagram play in your business?
Instagram and social networks in general play a major role in pursuing a high brand awareness. Its democratic approach allows basically everyone in the world to know that there’s something out there, something new that you might not be familiar with. You just need to be curious and look for it. And the personal approach of this feature lets you express your project and get people to identify with it and to get closer to your concept and vision. It is such an amazing tool and way to communicate.
Where do you want to see the label in the next five years?
We would love to create an Alanui lifestyle and we are working on making this happen, so stay tuned!
Translation: Melissa Frost
Madeleine is a fashion journalist. For as long as she can remember she has been passionate about fashion and accessories, in particular cashmere sweaters and jewelry. After five years of working at Vogue Germany’s fashion department in Munich, she decided to encounter a new challenge and move to Berlin. Her role at hey woman! allows her to combine her passion for styling, creative directing and writing. Madeleine is also good at imitating a Swiss accent and trying to be a cook.