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Designer Ghost

designer ghostBehind the fashion industry’s curtain lives a ghost with a business degree and a pragmatic eye, reports Christina Binkley in The Wall Street Journal (1/15/14). You probably haven’t heard of Matteo Gottardi, founder of Wrkshop, but his designer apparel carries labels from Nicole Miller to Levi’s. Matteo "is a prolific fashion designer who creates clothes for a half a dozen different labels." "I see myself like a ghost writer," says Matteo, who helps design houses keep up with the endless demand for new styles. Matteo designs the fashions and "creative directors" put their names on it.

The thing is, Matteo is in demand not necessarily because he is a design genius. He never even went to design school. It’s because his "clients say he is exceptionally good at sussing out their brand identity and designing around it." Matteo says this is because he went to business school at New York University, at his father’s insistence. He says this was the "biggest gift" his father ever gave him because he learned how "to explain design in a pragmatic way." "Matteo is very good at dealing with the visionary leadership of the brand," confirms Dan Orwig of Itochu Corp., a client.

"He has a great way of adding value and detail to product that’s not overly trendy," says Dan. Matteo takes a collaborative approach, typically meeting with a brand’s creative team before developing "specific garments … taking care to suggest that each design is simply an outgrowth of their artistic direction." "You know that I have designed this garment 100%, but I never say ‘me’," Matteo explains. "The easiest way for people to approve something is to have a part in it." Matteo also has his own line, W.R.K., which are sold at Nordstrom and designed Chipotle’s uniforms using sustainable materials (link).