Bow-ties design by Lolicu
The Sicilian actor who found his fortune making bow ties out of fabric remnants Paolo Lolicata is the young creator of Lolicu, a project based on designing bow ties. Actor by profession, Paolo came to Melbourne to improve his English and follow his great grandfather’s footsteps. Captured by the charm of this city, here he is, 5 years later: a vintage artisan inspiring new original styles in town.
How did you end up making bow ties?For fun! My flat mate had a sewing-machine and a bag full of fabrics, and I thought ‘What if I make bow ties out of vintage fabrics?’ The first ones were not that good so I spent a whole summer with my mother in Sicily, she likes sewing and taught me. On my return I started producing my first bow ties and sold them in markets around Melbourne. I kept doing that, then I created a website.
What’s the public response?The international response is good, I do sell in Italy, in shops in Hong Kong, New York, Canada… now I am focusing on the Australian market, as I want to develop my product and be more solid about what I am offering.
Describe your typical customer.Usually people between 18 and 35 years old, even puppies. I have a dog collection, a kid collection; I do also a lot of custom made weddings, bow ties for the groom and the best man… I actually love weddings, it’s fun being part of the stressful arrangements.
Among your customers there are a lot of women, are you surprised?Yes, thinking that bow ties are basically men’s accessories. During my first market a lot of girls came and I thought they wanted to buy something for their boyfriends but I soon realized that they were buying the bow ties for themselves! Women are today my main customers, probably because my bow ties are not so classic, not so manly.
Where do you get the fabrics?I use random fabrics from everywhere, especially from Italy. Every time I visit my country I buy a huge selection of textile. The advantage there is that even if you go to small towns you can find amazing fabrics from the ’70, ’80 on sale in very old stores.
Do you use recycled textile?Yes, I also go to recycle store or shops… I really like the vintage patterns of old clothes, and even the quality, most of the time better than the newer fabrics.
I’ve seen you pack bow ties in jars...The idea came from a chat with a friend in Milan. I was uncertain where to pack my product once completed, so Riccardo asked me where my mum would have put it. In a jar! I replied. She makes tomato sauce and preserves at home and put them in jars so I decided that using jars instead of boxes would be very Italian. Jars also keep the shape of the bow tie.
Do you think the hipster wave is helping your business to grow?Hipsters are always searching for new things, turning attention towards old styles, barber shops, places where you go to make your own suit or shoes… a higher value is put on the making of product, it’s what I appreciate the most. And then the attitude, the way hipsters relate to fashion, their interest in organic food.
Do you consider yourself a hipster?I don’t but I love hipsters and their style.
Creating with your hands, is being Italian an advantage?Everyone would buy Italian shoes, because of the quality, the style and taste. The power of Italy is in the craftsmen or ‘artigiani’. I grew up with my grandfather making sculptures out of stone, my mother sewing clothes or Grandma blankets, the neighbors making furniture… in my case I had to develop my skills on a good pre-existing base.
Could you describe the experience of living out of creativity?I can manage my whole world and I like it! I wake up every morning and I need to create stuff, sometimes till 3 in the morning. My friends use to say that I always think about work but making bow ties, to me, doesn’t feel like working.
So what’s your job?I like answering that I don’t have one!