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Meet Skandlu

Marco Parascandalo

Name: Marco Parascandalo

Profession: Fashion designer / brand owner

Industry: Fashion

Three adjectives to describe yourself: Ambitious, hard working, creative

What do you like to do for fun? Meet friends and talk fashion

Favourite Quote: “Mhux kulma jleqq hu deheb”

Favourite Food: Sushi

A person you admire: My mum


Tell us more about your story, how did your career take off in the fashion industry?

Basically I started off from when I was a little boy, my mum had a retail business in Birgu. it was a mixture of clothing and other items like a bazaar and from a very young age I was always involved and then I was studying art and form art design in MCAST I learned a lot of techniques not only in textiles but also in other media of art. mainly though my background is in retail. I have about 15 years experience of retail. I used to work for couple of companies here in Malta and I have also experienced four years in the UK. I lived in London and that is where I continued my retail experience and work. my jobs were various from assistant manager, to manager, to visual merchandiser and buyer, so I kind of covered all the criteria across retail. I was also a recruiter at one point.

Basically I started off in the UK initially, not as parascandalo but as Marco Parascandalo, that’s my real name and I was a second hand seller, I was like selling thrifted clothes and giving them a second chance basically. There was a website called asos market place. At that point this was a reselling portal via asos for everyone, and that’s where kind of started my online business. In 2014 I moved back to Malta after a 4 year experience in the UK and I participated in a competition in Malta fashion week. It was new designer, at that time they were doing this competition yearly. I participated and I came up with the Maltese slogan T-shirts. it was something new for the local fashion industry - like before we haven't' yet seen Maltese slogan T-shirts in the fashion industry. We had seen them in the feasts, in the political rallies you know but never for fashion and that kind of what made me more popular. The fact that I had retail experience before, it helped me because some people they knew me from before in the shops, you know Marco tal-Levi’s cos I used to work at Levi’s. The fact that I was coming back from London, it was also a really good comeback kind of. I came back in February and in May I had my first show so it was like a very quick way to kind of build a mini collection and kind of start off the brand. At that time, coming back from the UK I had to find a job because it was just a hobby. I worked also for another 4 years but kept the brand title Marco Parascandalo at the time. In 2016 I changed my brand name from Marco Parscandalo to just Parscandalo, and we started doing more like full collections instead of doing just 6 outfits every fashion show, we started doing 20-25 and now we’re doing up to 35 looks which totals up to 100 - 110 pieces which is quite a lot of work. Then I decided to leave my job and go on fulll time as a designer and brand owner and since then I’ve been doing this. I don’t consider myself as someone who has a job. I consider myself as someone who is doing what he loves .

What inspires you as a designer?

My time in the UK has influenced me a lot. London in particular, just the streets, the people, the graffiti, everything London itself, and at the beginning of the launch f my brand, people always used to compare me to London style like Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood, punk style, more street wear. I’m still considered as street wear even though over the years we are experimenting more with different medias of style and trends. what inspires me… culture, music a lot, music not specifically any type of genre. It’s just harmonies, peoplesinging, the 80’s and 90’s in general inspire me a lot when it comes to the fashion of the time, the music of the time, the people, the culture of the time, I find myself always drawn to those eras. It could be also that they were quite trendy in the past 10 years, and they still are quite trendy as well and I don’t know when I try to explore new eras, I always find myself going back to the 80’s and 90’s so it could be my main source of inspiration.

Every collection has a story. Your very recent collection is a particularly special one as it expresses love stories. How did the collection come about?

Back in 2014 my first collection, had about five main slogans with one of them being kemm inħobb. After a certain time, you kind of forget what you did in the past and you start to come up with something new. Subsequently, we had a customer request to do one of them again and slightly change the slogan to kemm inħobbok. Inspired by this customer request which was an order for a child, we expanded our pieces for kids, women, men, plus size, on both hoodies and T-shirts. Last year we introduced personalisations of garments according to the customer’s needs ranging from names, initials, to commemorating important dates or anniversaries. This year we vamped up the concept through a fresh design. Having our outlet within a tattoo studio at Mad Culture, we are obviously inspired by our surroundings. The new design is inspired by the traditional heart shaped tattoo with an encompassing banner, upon which personalisation can be handwritten making a unique garment for that special one. And when we say special ones, we’re not only referring to better halves… It also extends to pets! We had an interesting order requesting the name of their pet on the heart, now how cute is that? We feel grateful to be able to contribute to expressing love in whichever shape or form and towards whoever it is meant to be expressed!

What clothing item you absolutely cannot do without?

Definitely a T-shirt in summer and a hoodie in winter!

What are the main challenges for local fashion designers?

Being such a small island and having a saturated market, I think some designers might struggle to find innovative ideas within the challenges and limits of being a part of a small island community. Travelling, exploring around and being open to what the world has to offer can help overcome this challenge. Another challenge is marketing. Though the artistic side is crucial, it needs to be supported to marketing efforts to be able to get your product out there, and in good time. Especially young and new designers struggle to translate their designs into sales as they lack the bridge in between their art and their customers.

What does success mean to you?

Loving what you do. The fact that I can live through my passion and which doesn’t really feel like a job, is already fulfilling enough in itself. I love creating clothes for other people and seeing them being worn. There are milestones to be achieved such as being worn by famous people, having more customer reach, having a bigger shop, an improved online platform and greeting international customers.

Throughout your journey so far, what were three of the most defining moments for your business?

Definitely the first year with the launch of the slogan T-shirts, it was a proud moment indeed as it has put me on the map. Then in 2016 we had a quite controversial collection conveying a strong message about LGBTIQ+, and it also happened to be the year when we started doing women’s wear. Another defining moment would be the rebranding from Marco Parascandalo to Parascandalo which helped us blossom and continue nurturing the brand with new collections up until today.

If you could go back in time, what advice would you give your younger self?

To not waste time, to stop focusing on things I cannot change, to leave my job earlier and to work on my dream before! I am a self-taught designer. I didn't study fashion, but I studied textiles. While I love designing clothing, I also like to experiment with patterns and creating garments by working closely to seamstresses who make our products. My advice to somebody who wants to become a fashion designer is to study! Studying helps you to understand more what’s happening but thankfully my team help me understand whenever I need for whom I am truly grateful. It definitely helps to learn whatever you can learn while you’re still at school and then obviously be ready to take risks. Without risks, you will never manage to achieve your dreams!

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