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The migrant style, while finding personal and individual declinations each time, has constants capable of telling the story of the world, of its commercial exchanges, of colonial and media powers, of its myths.
This page is a place for research and archives by the visual artist Caterina Pecchioli to host visions and projects relating to the migrant style.
It will present works by the artist and other interdisciplinary artists invited to reflect on the B&W-Black&White concept as well as invite projects related to the research.
The migrant style, despite personal and individual variations, looks unique with certain fixed elements that tell us much about the history of the world, of trade, of colonial and media power, and its myths.
The B&W project started from the fascination of the visual artist Caterina Pecchioli for the daily way of dressing of migrants: the original way to combine various garments, accessories, colors and elements belonging to different cultures.
This suggestion led to a visual research, in collaboration with the participants and organizers of the B&W laboratory, migrants and non-migrants, to deepen the distinctive characteristics of this style.
The B&W-Black & White Lab. is the moment of visual investigation of this concept, of which we report some moments, elaborations and researches that are a synthesis made by the artist of a collective process.
How can we define the "migrant trend"?
The participants, both: asylum seekers and refugees from Africa, Meddle East and Asia together with Italians took an active role in the research process. Together we were attempting to define constants and shared characteristics of what we have called “migrant style", identifying combinations, accessories, recurring elements deepening the geographical differentiations and the influences by the personal and social history of the participants.
Starting from the observation of the participants' way of dressing, of their own wardrobe, that led to discussion on identity. We observed the transformations in the way people dress before, during and after their journey, with the use of “Facebook Mood Boards” made by the participants. They made a selection of photos taken from their socialmedia profiles which allowed them to identify the elements of their own style and to discuss the choices in the way they dress. Furthermore, in the first phase of the workshop we studied, wore and photographed the clothes made by young tailors / and asylum seekers , This led to analyze not only everyday clothes, but also the kind of clothes conceived and made by migrants in Italy.
This exchange highlighted how a few accessories have the power to evoke a mixed sense of identity. As for example in the case of Ibrahim Kondeh, as you can see in his facebook moodboard he wore mainly wax shirts sold in his aunties’ store in Africa (Wax is one of the most representative textile used in Africa), and once in Italy he was wearing mainly white shirts and striped ties. During the workshop Ibrahim choose for the photos to wear a white shirt with a wax tie made by Moustapha Sylla, a Senegalese tailor and asylum seeker living in Rome; this made appear a perfect synthesis of both influences, reflecting an intercultural identity.
What are the distinguishing features that we have started to identify?
In addition to the observations and study on the participant's social profiles we carried out a kind of "detective investigation" proposed by Clara Tosi Pamphili of AI Artisanal Intelligence, starting from the photographic series made for the occasion by the social fashion and design Atelier "Talking Hands" of Treviso realized together with the photographer Commesso Fotografo (Francesco de Luca). The splendid photographic series presents the portraits of a number of young asylum seekers in their daily outfits.
The cross-study of the social profiles and the photographic series allowed us to start indicating some recurring characteristics, visualized in the Research Wall.
- The use of the mimetic pattern. We discussed how the choice of camouflage is linked to interesting social and identity aspects. Mimesis is in fact a feature created to allow to blend with the context, that I find is an interesting suggestion referring to those people who live in a new context. Furthermore, as a pattern belonging to the military world, it is often linked to the political situation of some of the countries where people come from (such as dictatorial governments, war zones etc.).
- Personalized intervention on clothes. Changes are often made to the original garments, like adding patches or color.
- Original use of accessories. Such as the waist bag that is often worn around the neck or across the shoulder instead of around the waist. The widespread presence of necklaces or accessories with reference to the country of origin and arrival, such as the presence of the word Italy and the Italian flag on the garments, as well as pendants in the shape of Africa.
- Mix of traditional elements, such as the use of the veil or turban, combined with shirts of western musical groups or other garments and accessories related to western traditions. Many clothes are the same as those of Western young people, since musical myths and media influences are often in common, but in young migrants these are often associated with those deriving from the tradition of origin, creating an original and unique mix.
- Original choices of color combinations. Often there is a single outfit color associated with a single element of another color.