Paul & Shark is a clothing brand with an impressive global footprint. Their winning formula is quality, technology and creativity. It is these three aspects that lie behind their quintessential Italian approach. Dama Spa and its Paul & Shark brand have had constant growth over the years. The brand was created in 1976, inspired by sportswear and its founder’s passion for the sea. Today Paul & Shark is a well-known lifestyle brand in the high-end market in not just Italy but in over 70 other countries, with men’s, women’s, children’s and accessories collections.
Meet Andrea Dini, third generation of the family owned company who came on a lightening visit to India.The Exquisite Edge had the opportunity to meet him and came back impressed. Warm, communicative, down to earth and candid, we present Andrea Dini, in an exclusive tête-à-têtewith Editor in Chief, Priyanka Sippy.
Q: As 3rd generation of the Dini family you are carrying on a legacy that has spanned generations. How do you feel, bearing the mantle?
A: Fantastic! I am extremely lucky to have a super nice father who never put pressure on me, not even to join the company. Initially he wanted me to become a doctor but for me it’s the family business that I cared about, so that is what I chose. Initially it was smooth sailing as I had the opportunity to work together with my father for over 10 years. We shared ideas and I learnt a lot. Suddenly I was 40, and my father made me CEO and President, as he wanted to retire. I took hold of the reins and here I am.
Q: Tell us something about the yachting connect with Paul & Shark?
A: My grandfather was in love with boats. He was a collector of memorabilia. When in England, pursuing his hobby, he came across parts of a sunken boat known as the Paul & Shark. My father’s name is Paul, and it was in fact many years later that my grandfather decided to name the company after the vessel.
The market was changing, new areas and sources to produce in Italy and elsewhere were emerging. We were losing customers. There was a decision to be taken, either move the company to cheap labour areas or build our own brand. Luckily we took the opportunity and went with the decision to build the brand. Inspired by the
Paul & Shark memorabilia my grandfather had bought 5-6 years ago in the UK, the name was born.
Q: How involved are you in the designing aspect of the brand and what inspires you?
A: I am very involved in the designing aspect and constantly discussing giving inputs to the design team. Many things inspire me. Things I see in museums, when walking around the street, how people dress at a restaurant. At a hotel lobby I observe trends and fashion as myriad people are in and out. On a specific work day, visiting stores and talking to their managers, even at rival stores asking questions. It’s a lot of everyday things that inspire me.
Q: Which are the top markets for Paul & Shark?
A: Europe as an area is responsible for more than 50 % of our turnover. UK, Germany and Spain are the most important European countries for us. Russia and China outside of Europe are very big markets for us. India is growing extremely nicely. Japan and Korea are the two new markets we have entered.
Q: Tell us about your future plans for the company, a dream project in the offing
A: I have many dream projects, which I will work on. Strategy is the key. It is made brick after brick and I plan to add to a foundation that is strong for many generations to come. Talking of dream projects, the sustainable concept is big and hopefully it will have a positive impact on the awareness and the reputation of the brand. Internally, it will have enormous effect, completely changing the material we use, and how we will use it. It is the biggest change I have experienced in the company to date. It will take 3 to 5 years, not overnight, to go at least 80% sustainable. We are in the process of curating a list of companies that are sustainable. We manufacture, we do not produce cotton, so we will depend on the companies we choose.
Q: Name an international and an Indian celebrity that you would like to style in Paul & Shark?
A: American basketball players are closely followed in the USA. They are top influencers of fashion. I would like to dress LeBron James, one of the most famous basketball players in the USA.
An Indian celebrity I would choose from Bollywood, which is known worldwide. Amitabh Bachchan. He has age and character, and is very well aligned. He will look fantastic in Paul & Shark.
Q: What international fashion label do you admire?
A: A brand recognised in Italy for suits – Lardini. It is a medium sized Italian company. They have the best way of interpreting suits in the menswear business. Not super formal, but with a twist of something that is unique. I wear them. The fit, the cut and fabric selection is impeccable. There are many fantastic brands in the world, I admire Nike & Adidas tremendously. When you are wearing Nike it like you are wearing the most fantastic brand in the world.Quality is important, but first it has to be aspirational, since you have not tried it yet. Their marketing is top of the line.
Q: Back to family, you have three children. Will any of them be joining the family business?
A: My eldest daughter is a free spirit; I do not think she will. My son and my youngest daughter probably.
Q: What do you enjoy apart from work?
A: I enjoy things that are related to or arise out of work- discussing non-business issues with colleagues and friends. I love travelling for business and pleasure.
Africa is my favourite destination. I go at least once year to Central and South of Africa. I enjoy going on Safari. I recently visited Ranthambore where I sighted tigers. The experience was unforgettable.
Q: Your favourite motto?
A: Never Give Up. Simple.Obvious. However, it is something I live by and want my children to as well.