Making strides: How Incotex made tailored trousers cool again
by Peter Howarth
Move over jackets, trousers are on top, says Peter Howarth. For Roberto Compagno and Incotex at least...
Trousers. When was the last time you gave them any thought? It seems that they are not on the radar for many of us in the way pretty much every other item of clothing is – even the humble sock seems to have more of a profile.
Meet Roberto Compagno, a man who is on a mission to make you re-evaluate what constitutes about 50 per cent of your visible daily outfit. Compagno’s father Carlo founded Incotex in Venice in 1951 as a manufacturer of workers’ and military uniforms. In the 1980s, Roberto – now president – and his brother led the firm to specialise in trousers. Incotex has been making strides, literally, ever since.
Years of acquired expertise are evident in a plethora of details: there is the distinctive, signature “blue loop” that holds your belt in place, the sartorially inspired V-cut at the back of the waistband meant to give when you sit for a meal, and a triple-fastening design to make sure your flies don’t gape.
There is also a playfulness with fabrics and styles: formal fabrics made up into casual, unstructured trousers, and more casual fabrics made into dressier styles. Incotex has taken the five-pocket jeans, traditionally executed in denim, and moved it into the area of “tailored and classic trousers – we try to mix all the cultures”, says Compagno.
As the full name of the company suggests (Industrie Confezioni Tessili – Industrial Production of Textiles), the approach is not one typical of a fashion company: “It’s not just a matter of designs and colours. Our product is 80 to 90 per cent engineering, 10 to 20 per cent fashion and style.”
Any styles he’d recommend for those boarding superyachts? The Venetian in him steps forward – “I love boats, I live on the water”. He talks of the Incotex Mare shorts that are made of waterproof cotton and look like something you might wear to a bar or restaurant, but double as swim shorts. Then there are the cargo shorts, more military in look and perfect for lounging on deck.
After half a century of dedication to specialism, the Compagno family decided to expand into other areas of the wardrobe and bought other Italian specialist makers – Zanone for knitwear, Glanshirt for shirts and Montedoro for jackets and outerwear. They now all sit under the umbrella name, Slowear.
“The Slowear philosophy is buy less, buy better,” says Compagno. The Slowear way is to make things that last from a quality point of view and a design aspect – they don’t date because they are classic pieces.
Compagno wants us to think more carefully about what we buy. “I know why fast food is called junk food; so, is fast fashion not junk fashion?” he asks. “In the same way that you look for something organic and good when it comes to what you eat, so too should you apply the same criteria when you shop.”