CONVERSATIONS WITH FRIENDS: Chapter 2. Catheclisma
Fashionistas’ lives are no joke, so for this chapter of “Conversations with friends” I had a super quick yet super interesting interview with Caterina Grieco, better known as Catheclisma, while she was catching a train to go to a deadstock fabrics event.
Caterina is like that friend with magic hands we all wish we had: genuine and creative, she has turned her fashion studies and passion into a job, giving life to a brand of super cute and unique handmade clothes. She has a degree in fashion design at Milan Politecnico, and is still studying, so she knows what she’s doing!
Let’s dive into her world!
- Let’s start with the basics Cate, how did the Catheclisma world start?
It started, in fact, from a personal experiment. While I was getting my degree I used to live in Bergamo (now Caterina lives in Milan, even though she still comes to her lovely house in Bergamo every weekend) and took the train at seven in the morning to be back home at night, so I did not have a lot of free time. But, as the pandemic started, I realized that in my hands I had a lot of time to do things I had wanted to try for a while and so I made a Camille dress for myself.
My intention was not to start a brand at all, but as I posted pics of the dress on Instagram, some of my friends, and friends of friends thanks to grapevine, asked me if I could make one for them too and then it all began!
- How do you sell your clothes?
At first people used to commission clothes to me through Instagram DMs: I loved it, while discussing about the clothes I had the chance to chat with my followers and get to know them, making it all more friendly and intimate. But, as the requests started to grow, I had to open a website, and so in June 2021 the Catheclisma e-commerce was born.
- Are you alone or is it a team job?
As the whole thing started to grow, I had to ask for someone’s help. If, at first, I was the one who made clothes, now I have other four seamstresses helping me: they are all Bergamo based, so we have a close, quite daily relationship. They are also supported by a tailoring lab!
I also can count on the help of my super mum: she is fundamental when it comes to choosing the fabrics ‘cause she can recognize right away when a piece is nice in look and quality, so we go together or, when I’m busy, she goes alone and I know I can trust her (Caterina relies on a deadstock fabrics store based in Bergamo, to avoid wasting cloth and making the price more accessible). Now that I have them, I can concentrate more on thinking about the creative part, like designing new clothes; I’m also in charge of the costumer-communication part. And, last but not least, I have my brother who helps me with the shipping process, rigorously environmental-friendly: we wait for a few packages to be ready before shipping them, to reduce pollution impact.
So, you could say it is a Bergamo based brand, family managed and made by women: I work with people I love and trust and I could not ask for anything better!
- What about the pictures taken for your clothes?
Except for a few times, while he was away from Bergamo, my personal photographer is actually my boyfriend (Filippo Candotti, you can find him on Instagram as @filippo.candotti): he is really talented and has stuck with me since the beginning, when we used to take pics in my house garden.
When it comes to choosing the models, I usually ask friends or make call outs on Instagram when I need to shoot, so some of the models I had were actually friends or followers of mine. I have a folder with the profiles of people who usually apply, so I can ask them when I’m in need of someone to pose.
My aim is to represent different bodies and work with faces that are not well known. One of the models from the last shooting is the girlfriend of my American cousin: I think she is so beautiful and unique and I could not miss the chance to have her wear my clothes.
- Do you have a secret to keep being close to your followers even now that the brand is growing?
I think my Instagram profile is the key: even when Catheclisma started to get well known, I chose not to create a specific profile for it and instead kept my personal one, where I post both my daily life and my job. I think I did it ‘cause it’s like there are two Caterina in one profile, helping each other grow: the working influencer one for the brand part but also a friendly one that shares her daily activities and talks with followers like they are friends chatting in a café or store.
Talking about stores, we have already done two pop-up stores, one in Turin and one in Milan: they were amazing, an opportunity for people to see my clothes live but also the chance for me to meet my followers and buyers, making it cozy and intimate.
When it comes to feed pics and stories, I would like to say that I don’t care about the aesthetic and it is all spontaneous, but I actually care about it being nice a lot: there’s no pretending behind the things I share, I just have found an aesthetic I like and I think the people who follow me or see my profile for the first time will appreciate it too.
- Last but not least: what values do you want to share with your brand?
As I said before, my intent when I started making clothes was to make them for myself: I had no aim about starting a brand, more of it a “sustainable” or “inclusive” one. But as it grew and grew, the nice values I believe in came to the surface of it too: I care about our beautiful planet and I care about people, so I want to pursue something that will help both of them.
I use deadstock fabrics: it is good for the planet, ‘cause we are not producing new things while wasting other, but also for people, first ‘cause they are cheaper but also because it allows us to make costum-made clothes, based on the measurements of the buyers.
Once, for a shooting, I needed a size 50 top for one of the models: it was so difficult to find. It is so sad to see that, depending on your size, you can’t help but shop in super cheap fast fashion chains, which are not good for the environment and the rights of the workers, or high fashion brands, which are not good for the wallet of common people like us. I wanted to provide everyone the chance, no matter how their body looks, to find nice, costum-made, unique clothes that won’t cost them too much. Again, it was not my initial intent, but it was a corollary of the way we chose to work and I am so happy about it.
It is not something that you see around a lot, so I hope Catheclisma can be an example for more clothes-making people to take a better tourn for the fashion of tomorrow!
Well babes, what can I say if not WOW? It was amazing to dive into the creative and super sweet mind of Caterina, so let’s whish for more Camilles, Timothes and Leas to come. See you at the next pop-up store around Italy Cate, it was a pleasure to talk to you!