To begin with, we’d like to get to the bottom of the question – how was the name Paul & Shark arrived at?
That’s always a good question. My father, Paolo, discovered something in America, in the 1970s. He was in Maine, and went to a sail-maker’s workshop there, where he saw a sail from an 18th century clipper. On it was written “Paul & Shark”. The name fascinated him and gave him a challenging idea, and the suggestion to add the shark as a symbol was made by an architect cousin, who had moved to San Francisco. It was fate, I suppose!
Tell us a little bit about Paul & Shark’s history.
My grandfather, Gian Ludovico Dini, decided to rescue an old knitwear factory after WWII, one that had been founded in Varese in 1921 and that was producing high-quality knitwear. In 1957, the factory was named ‘Maglificio Dacò’, and nine years later it was renamed ‘Dama Spa’. The entire production process took place inside the factory, and the quality of the yarns and the accuracy of the workmanship were so good that the best names in the French and Italian industries turned to the mill to produce their collections. My father Paolo, Gian Ludovico’s eldest son, chose to launch an exclusive new line due to this success, which would go on to be known as Paul & Shark, which launched in 1976. We are celebrating our 40th anniversary and will mark this milestone with an event and a special project.
What is it that Paul & Shark strives for?
The brand’s aim has always been to seek excellence, in terms of both quality and workmanship. We only use the best materials for all our collections — with this there is no compromise. We weave our own fabrics for our cut-and-sew knitwear, while our fully-fashioned knitwear is made on state-of-the-art German and Japanese looms. The production chain is the feather in our cap.
How would you describe the typical Paul & Shark buyer in India?
Worldwide, Paul & Shark clothes are purchased by a very wide age group — we have a children’s line, also — so I would say literally anyone from 25 to 65. Having said that, the typical buyer is usually well educated, well travelled, culturally aware and enjoys their leisure time. In India, I would say our typical buyer starts at age 25, whereas in Europe it would be someone who is around 35. We have a very wide collection — sometimes I think it’s too wide — but the advantage is that there will be something for everyone. In India, because it’s such a large country, the challenge is a little different — in Delhi, the product gives a slightly different message to customers than in Mumbai, for example. In India, one of our biggest sellers is a knitted pique shirt, which we sell very little of in the rest of the world. Every market has its unique elements, which we are happy to cater to.
What are the brand’s further plans in India?
Currently, we have four monogram stores in India, along with six other points of sale at The Collective stores, where we own all our merchandise. We will have additional stores coming up in Mumbai and Delhi, to begin with, and we are close to signing a deal for a space in Chennai as well as in Kolkata. At the Delhi airport Duty Free, where we are present, we’re looking at the land side as well. Tier II cities are important here, so we are watching places like Pune. Obviously we are looking at the right adjacencies, but we also don’t want to be in pure luxury spaces, because they can be intimidating for new buyers. In a place like Palladium in Mumbai, there’s some noise, some bustle, and something for everyone, so people don’t feel afraid to step into a luxury store. We tell our store people “Never close the door”, because that creates an additional layer for the customer.
Why are Italian-made products so important to you?
It is a promise you make to the consumer. It is a label that gives consumers the hope that the garment they have just bought will retain its promise of excellence in the future.