Whether it’s crystal-covered cardigans or Cupchain-clad thongs, GCDS creative director, Giuliano Calza, believes sparkle (in any form) is good for the soul.
At the ripe young age of 33, Giuliano Calza is at the center of one of the industry’s most recent and definitive success stories, which also happens to be a family-run business (Giuliano’s brother, Giordano, is the chief executive). Currently retailing at more than 400 locations worldwide and with a growing multinational cult-like following, GCDS is giving new meaning to “Made in Italy.”
Which is to say that everything Giuliano creates, from his oversized cardigans to his capsule collaborations, is in fact produced in Italy. A cornerstone of the brand, GCDS is carving out a path for luxury streetwear that emphasizes high quality as much as aesthetic. Giuliano, who admittedly loves all things that sparkle, spoke to Preciosa following the debut of his most recent collection about the role embellishment plays in his work.
Preciosa: One thing that fans have come to expect from you, Giuliano, is high impact. Yet your designs are also extremely wearable, and your use of embellishment always feels purposeful. How do Preciosa crystals enhance GCDS’ brand DNA?
Giuliano Calza: GCDS has a very irreverent fanbase. They want to feel special all the time, even while partaking in day-to-day activities. But that does not mean everything needs to be completely over the top all the time. I like to use crystals in unexpected ways, like filling the negative space on a cardigan—which we did for the last collection—so that it feels like a moving painting ready to be worn. Crystals also compliment my Y2K nostalgia.
Preciosa: For the brand’s SS 2022 “Island Appropriate” collection, you worked a lot with crystals on knitwear. What are your favorite materials to embellish?
GC: Yes, the crystals blend flawlessly with knitwear, creating an incredible garment both in real life and in photos. We once covered a black sweater in black Preciosa crystals – it felt like a deep black ocean. I will never forget that piece. I also really enjoy working with crystals on denim.
Preciosa: Hyper embellishment is very popular at the moment, especially with Gen-Z consumers. Why do you think that is? Do you see it as a passing trend or an aesthetic choice that is here to stay?
GC: Personally, I love everything that shines. I think sparkle is so powerful – I truly believe in the power of the light reflected in each stone. It’s good for the soul. Maximalism is not leaving anytime soon.
Preciosa: It’s no secret that Bohemian crystals made in Europe come with a higher price tag for the producer—and ultimately the end consumer—than stones produced elsewhere and/or of lesser quality. Is there a place for higher price tags in ready to wear if they are attached to higher quality garments?
GC: I believe so! My generation and the next are much more interested in transparency and overall quality. They educate themselves and care about the ethics of the brands they buy from. More expensive materials, like crystals, are not just for couture anymore. They belong everywhere, from water bottles to men’s knitwear. High quality materials just make a garment more precious, and it’s becoming easier to see and feel the difference.
Preciosa: Everything GCDS produces is famously made in Italy. How does this pledge affect how you select your suppliers?
GC: I built this brand from nothing, and the more it grows the more I want to ensure that it remains sustainable and ethical. As you said, we produce everything in Italy and when it comes to our suppliers, I want to know everything. Where are they located? What are their production practices? What materials do they use? How do they treat their employees? Everything. I want to make sure the companies I work with are compatible with my ideals and in line with “made in Italy,” which is essentially a stamp of quality.
Preciosa: What do you appreciate most about working with Preciosa crystals?
GC: I absolutely do not want to find myself producing something unethical, or in a situation where we are investing a lot into environmental responsibility and then find out that the embellishment, which is supposed to be the most precious part, is the least precious of all. I want to make the difference for my generation by fighting to make ideals a reality. I feel that Preciosa is investing in the same thing.
Preciosa: And last but not least, do you have a favorite Preciosa shape or color?
GC: I love Siam-colored stones. I don’t know why, but something resonates inside me every time I see that deep red. I think my mom had a ring with a ruby of a similar shade, or maybe it was Dracula. Anyway, I use them in every collection, especially with Fuchsia.