PoBO (Positive by Ownership) are a sustainable, premium quality streetwear brand based in London. All materials are certified eco-friendly and PETA Vegan Approved, the supply chain is ethical and they also plant one mangrove tree per product purchased. They really put their heart into every detail. Dario's inspiration came from the artists of ground zero. They wanted to hit the reset button on modern art and he is amongst those who believe that now is the time to do the same with fashion.
In this episode of the MenswearStyle Podcast we interview Dario Peluso, Founder of PoBO about the founding story of his premium sustainable apparel brand. Our host Peter Brooker and Dario talk about his love of art and music, creative process, positive impact, copyright, design inspiration, GOTS certified cotton, embroidery, sustainability, buyer behaviour, and changing consumer mindset.
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Hello, welcome to another episode of the menswear style podcast. I'm your host Pete Brooker. Today I am talking to Dario Peluso who is the founder of Popo which is positive by ownership. And I'm just gonna read a little blurb from the popo website about Dario. Hi, I'm Dario. I am the founder of po Bo. I am a shameless creative mind. I used to have a successful career in the city, but I have loved fashion design, music making and are all my life. My inspiration came from the artist of goop zero. This was described as a zone of silence and appear possibilities for a new beginning. I am paraphrasing there's a longer story on the website, which you can find, by the way at po bo.uk. But here to talk in depth about Popo in his own words is Dario palooza. When we talk about COBOL, we talk about the collection. We don't we don't even describe anymore because all the friends have been part of this beast of this journey. And they know that it's kind of like the, the synthesis of all the various things that I've done in my life. And, you know, not someone who went to fashion school or uni or, you know, art, the art school. I've done I come from an economics and financial background. I've always cultivated you know, my creative interests on the side, basically. So they know, and they know that this is like my brainchild, you know, my everything that it's, it's a comes from me. I mean Popo is is is obviously my own creative output, but it's, it's sustainable at the core apparel brand. And that's something that we take great pride on. Okay, and tell us a little bit about you first, Dario, your background coming into this. Yeah, sure. Basically, I, I come from well, I'm Italian, I was born and bred in, in Naples in southern Italy. And, like many 1000s, you know, when you go to school, you actually study humanities and a lot of history of art, which I absolutely loved. And, you know, because it's thought I learned that art is not just something that is in the museum's is that is out there to be admired. And then you're done with it. You know, artists, like, in people's lives, you know, the artist is someone, they can be political, they can be utilitarian finance, so, so many things in history, and, you know, that was my first kind of, like, love with with art, but then, because I came from one of those families classic that, you know, you can't make money from creative things, you have to do have a proper job, then I went on, you know, after it's not a proper job, which is you have to go to university. So I went to did economics, which was fine, you know, I enjoyed it. But at the same time, I also calculated, you know, my, I've actually was surrounding myself with people that were really doing economic several doing fashion design, they were doing industrial design, and Milan is a great city for that. So, um, so you know, so, you know, this is kind of I started having, and also one more thing, which to throw in the mix. I'm a separate semi professional musician. So, I've studied piano and I also am an orchestra conductor. Wow. So, which is something that that I did later, but you see, for me, I've always had to do you know the right thing which was study and then work then finance or whatever, and then do my own creative outlets. And this, you know, I worked on in, in finance for many years, in 2019 was an interesting year year because I had I had quite a bad freakish accident where I damaged my shoulder and I had to do to have an operation. So what happened was the accident it was a freak accident. It's so stupid to say to say now, but I live sleeve slipped on my sock, you know, I was wearing my socks, I just lift and had this, like, I felt like a cyclist stood tall from from a bike on the back from the shoulder. And that caused quite a bad damage that needed an operation. But the fact that the funny, funny thing, actually, it's kind of like this founder strike moment, I was in hospital the night after the operation and I was basically trickling in, on, you know, like, painkillers and medications. And I will Stephen, and I watched McQueen, you know, the Alexander McQueen documentary, where he filmed and, you know, the, the soul of his collections and his creative process. And I couldn't sleep obviously. So I, you know, I started taking like, photos of like, the wounds and the body and things like quite either that kind of triggered me starting to create more visual things, not just music that I was doing. And until then, you know, I haven't been like a very visual arts type of person. So that's kind of where, really, if we go back in time in time, things started. And then I set up a second Instagram account, which I use as a, like an outlet, like a mood board for, for things. And a lot of, you know, actually everything that I do, somehow comes from that from, from from my own creative process. But basically 2019 Was this year where everything changed. So after that, I started to thinking, you know, I've done, I've done this job for so many years, maybe now I want to flip things the other way around, I want to be the creative person that actually earns from it, you know, not just some some things on the side. And so, towards, you know, the, the end of the year. You know, we start thinking, or maybe maybe this is, this is my chance. Sorry, I didn't say that very well. I might just say, say again, a few things if it's okay. Go for it. Nice. So after the event, we had my partner and I had a great trip, legendary trip to to Amsterdam, and we were thinking, Oh, but you know, we should do somethings actually, they have something different for with our lives and, you know, just chatting away and actually pulled out to this bar of chocolate that had, you know, I opened it, it was a fair trade sustainably sourced chocolate bar. And, you know, I say it said, he said on it. Well, congratulations, you've just planted planted the tree. Now this is, you know, early 2019. So the whole sustainability thing was coming up, but you didn't come across so many consumer brands, you know, they would do things like that. And I thought, oh, it'd be great to do something like that, that has an impact on every, you know, made me feel better. No, buying something consuming something, and having having an impact. And you know, this, this one of the first things that started you know, our journey. And so you'd studied then at Central Saint Martin's college, was that after you after your career in finance, or did you did you do that alongside when you're working in the sea? So what what happened then is that again in 2019, yeah, that was after, but before leaving my job, I took quit my partner at startup accelerator, London, just called escape the city. And in a way you learn everything about you know, coming up with ideas and getting, you know, validating ideas, minimum MDPs, etc, the whole financials, etc. And we came up with this idea of creating the The initial idea was to create the perfect white t shirt. Yeah, which, with hindsight, I'm glad that didn't do because now on the market, the loads of perfect white t shirts. I think I've interviewed you know, you kind of setting oil. And you know, I'm sure they're all amazing in their own ways, but I thought that by marketing, something that was perfect, I would set up, set myself up for failure. But then, you know, I decided to quit my job and pursue that idea in at the end of 2019, and that's when I signed up for, you know, central markets and longer poses of passion, I took a bunch of courses there. And, you know, intensive intensive courses, in like fashion design and the collection, building a collection, putting collection, in process, and things like that, and, and somewhere quite practical, you know, involving sewing and building garments, and how did you learn patent making as well, a little bit of that. It was more, you know, to understand what it means. And so that you're able to talk to people who are the experts, talk about fabric manipulation, talk about fabric, talk about the speeches about, you know, anything that you need to, you know, you can always you can always ask, you will always have their expertise, but the better you communicate with them, the better, you know, products, and the quicker you get your results and the bad. Yeah, so did you were you doing this as well as working? Or were you kind of making a leap of faith and going back in hang it was, that was really upset about that leap of faith, because, so I left in, and of sort of end of 2019 and then I started taking these courses. And it was a bit also for me to kind of understand, do I like this, can I do it, you know, to get more confidence. And my creative enough for this, or, you know, make up for it, I wanted to immerse myself in it. And this is actually until maybe March, which is when then COVID hit, and things took a different turn in terms of the project, the idea, you know, as low down because in the initial plan was to work together with my, my partner's while he'd be working full time. He's a doctor. So when the pandemic hit, to go, completely taken away. And so I had to do a lot of things by myself. And yeah, so while we were, I was doing still a lot of research on suppliers, I then decided, oh, you know what, I can't really action this properly. So I'm just going to work creatively. And I tried to actually have, like a, like an MVP, like my first very first version of the of the brand, which actually was called zero t, which I had to completely cancelled, cancelled due to copyright. I can tell you, I can tell you that story as well. But basically, you know, that was the first sort of, I thought, Okay, I'm just gonna sell my own prints my own graphics, on prints made by others. And I'm gonna call it zero t. And he started, he was okay, I wasn't hugely happy with the product, because, you know, it was something done quickly. And I even use a print on demand, because I literally wanted to test it. And so it transpired that people really liked the prints luckily, luckily for my own employer, but then they were really happy with the price point and the quality it was organic. It was all well made, but it wasn't like the quality that people were expecting. So price point. So what was the price? What was the copy the IP infringement there was a collage of different logos what what was the know what What happened there is that you see, this is a the entrepreneur learning curve. Obviously, I didn't I didn't have the funds to, to talk to lawyers, you know, IP lawyers. And so I just tried to learn things by myself. I went on the IPO, the Intellectual Property Office, and I searched status. So I wanted to call the brand zero, which also has a nice story, but that's maybe for but zero, which, you know, anyway, evoke the whole zero plastic zero, carbon neutrality, etc. But anyway, I went, I saw that there was a company owning that IP zero, so I call it zero t. And I thought, well, that's fine. However, then, as I submitted, the IPO told me immediately that we are not rejecting it. But someone on zero, and T doesn't mean anything, because in Fisher, so it's like, doesn't qualify doesn't make your name unique. Then I have a few months, a couple of months later, this giant listed the European company that sends me this legal threat to protect Valentini immediately Oh, not to take down but not to use it anyway. And, and that was that and, you know, I did get a little bit attached to the initial idea, that actually turned out to be a good thing, because that's how we then started Poble, which was our very initial name for the brand. Let's talk about and, yeah, tell me about the, the inspirations behind the designs. Well, the inspiration behind the designs, obviously comes from me from you know, I, I tend to, you know, when I travel, when I travel, when I just walk around London or any other cities, when I'm allowed to travel, obviously, and I take photos, and, again, I work with those photos, and usually they can somehow from, from from life from my life. So that's kind of unique. That's the uniqueness of, of, of them. The inspiration really is maybe, from research I've done, for example, you know, I've done, you know, I go to, into the British Library, archive, and textbooks and pick the prints and then take some shapes out of them. And, you know, that's how something comes out. Because, you know, sparks whether it's an intellectual interest, or because I have, like I've lived, or there's something some know that if you if you see one of the prints, or the embroideries rather, is a is a heart and that heart comes from a photo that I took in Naples when I went back the last time, and then they became somehow it was just a photo, and then I made it into an embroidery. So that's, that's really desparation comes from from life. And a lot of it actually, because in 2020 We were living in East London, it kind of came up to me, you know, the the discretion to use my own photos, my own life for, for the prints of the designs for the shapes came from the street arts, you know, that it's everywhere. This this idea, always a little bit around, not having arcs or, you know, up on the wall in a room. It's a fact of life, you know, so they do putting your own clothes for me. So, it's it's one of the elements that is more inspiring and appealing and where the garments made there. So, the garments, I mean, the you know, the the journey of of cotton is in our case organic cotton is a very very long journey. You know our cotton is a got certified comes from India. And in India we have you know, our we have this amazing suppliers, they have like their the the trace or the they are tracing actually all the farmers they grow cotton and then the genie in the whole processing of the cotton sale done between India then is taken into Bangladesh, whereas there's the spinning, and then, you know, the knitting of the cotton. And then the garments are made on sort of unfinished. And then they're sent to Europe. And then from Europe, in Belgium, they come to the UK. And we work on them, we finish them and put our own stamp on it. Like the final. Some I have a price tag. I start, I have an amazing studio that helps thing with embroideries and the they're in Somerset. And they are also super aligned with the whole family believe they only use, you know, sustainable in home use. And can you hear me? Yeah, sorry, the line just went a bit choppy there. Are you just talking about the year embroideries in Somerset, pick up from that we have this amazing studio in Somerset, these guys that help with the embroideries and the prints and they're completely aligned with us in terms of sustainability principles. And so the only actually work with with sustainable inks and even the embroideries that we use are natural, you know, a lot of the time the well, the classic way of making embroidery is through a synthetic fibre. And we use this Ryan which is made out of wood, basically. And yeah, so it the journey is very long, but we have this amazing suppliers are super strict in terms of the credentials, and you know, their certifications are the most stringent. And we you know, for our star of our journey, I think they're absolutely perfect. Yeah. And so, what I kind of asked this with every brand now, but you might have already answered it within some of the previous questions. But what is your main ethos and sustainability pledge within the brand? Would you say when people ask you that? Well, yeah, so you know, Popo is a bit of a playing Words and stands for Positive by ownership. And that is a bit of playing about owning your life, owning your positivity, owning your positive impact. And we want to do that for people. So we, we, as a business, we want to try to make something it's important to say try because you can't be perfect, you can't be perfectly sustainable. See? So one thing is that we want to try and make something good at every step, you know, with every partnership, and look at every single detail of what we do and make sure that using recycled material or compostable material, you know, and but also, we want to make people feel good about buying no not guilty, which, like you did when you were opened up chocolate bar that time. Exactly. That was the inspiration see everything comes together. Yeah, exactly that. So when you're buying from this is a little bit of a, the problem with many of the sustainability world in fashion, is that it's a bit negative. You know, ultimately, it says a lot about obviously, the impact of fast fashion of the giant, so you know, the pollution, but then when you're doing something good, you need to feel it. And so, you know, there is the fact that you know, I can show my, my customer where things are made and tell them about the initiatives, that certifications, but themselves, you know, they are planting the tree I took that I stole the idea. And you know, every time we buy, there's at least one mangrove tree planted and there's other initiatives to support disadvantaged communities. And, you know, this is this is really important, but this is we want basically to feel like they're up there's like a chain of good, you know, touch to to their purchase and to our supply chain. So I think this is The ultimately in as, as a sustainable company, now, you want to take this holistic approach. And of course, we aim at being super precise. But you want something even to kind of change people's pattern of, you know, behaviour patterns around buy. So, you want to buy that jumper that in 2050 years, you still have, I've got this, I've got this really old jumper that I think is from the iron even though it was bought in a charity shop, so it was already really old. So maybe from the 90s, that a friend of mine lent me and I still have it. And it's just like a very basic Nike jumper, but you know, I've had I have had it for 20 years, you know, that kind of idea that you know that those clothes and maybe you your father Your mother wore, and then you can wear. But this is what I tell my girlfriend all the time when she wants to throw out my socks. I'm like, sweet, I will these on about a dozen different construction sites during my 20s. I know, they look like how and they've looked like they've had every spaghetti sauce and fag but dipped out in it. But you know, it's my pledge to sustainability to keep these socks going. And you just can't see. But it's true that, you know, the other thing that I started doing. I mean, do you remember the very first iPod they came out? Now the idea that you had this little break that was so cool, was so amazing to hold. And you didn't know why? Because it was really the first time that such thing really was done by Apple. Now we're used to it. Now we're used to like the nice bringing, you know, objects and the newness, but it was like there was something about the way the quality that made you want it and hold it. And I think you can do that. We used to do that with clothes. I think we've been you know, our mindset has shifted US consumers that oh, yeah, it looks a little bit Oh, it's out of fashion or the colour is now you see that? That's that that can change. So we've suffered from things that are quiet, but their gender neutral, but they're also quite neutral in terms of seasons. You know, a nice foodie can go across seasons, it doesn't go out of fashion next year, you can see where and it's got an amazing embroidery on it. Well, you keep it you know, it's not going to be the one thing they just gonna throw out and operate to, to charge, you know? Well, absolutely. And people can check out all of the wonderful email@example.com Dario, thanks for jumping on the show. Are you planning on any bricks and mortar is? What do you plan for for the rest of the year? Yeah, we have one focusing for 2020 to two on growth, on growth and on growth. So we are planning more pop ups and we're planning more markets with we're going to do like kind of guerilla marketing type of thing where we're just going to put our products in front of people. So that's going to be a bit of a bit of that brick and mortar. We are expanding on on online marketplaces. We just been signed up for work from Belgium, which is great. And we're going to do more of those. So yeah, that's growth and then obviously I'm still I'm still experimenting with with designs and it's going to be new collections coming up so for everyone you know, just to keep an eye on our website from the news and social media. And where do you hang out for media? What do you like to do Instagram Facebook? Yeah, we do Instagram this Bobo UK is our it's our main outlet really? And Facebook of course, but that comes as a as a second you know, the revision from Instagram really? And they you the user face behind it, so to speak. If people reach out to you on Instagram, they'll get through to you. Yeah, yeah, I'll go there you get through to me, or anyone who wants you know, to know anything. Get in touch. It's also our email. Hello. Hello the UK. Awesome. Well, excellent, mate. Thanks so much for jumping on great talking to you. And next time you're either West London or Central. Give me a shout and we'll do some coffee or look up Have a look at the designs. It Thank you very much for inviting me. Alright, take care yourself. Have a good night. Cheers and you bye you've been listening to their menswear style podcast be sure to head over to menswear style dot code at uk for more menswear content and email info at menswear style dot code at UK if you'd like to be a future guest on the show. Finally, please help support the show by leaving a review on iTunes or wherever you're listening to this podcast. Until next time