The Menswear Style Podcast

Alberto Solana, Founder of Meriggi

May 25, 2022 Menswear Style Episode 179
The Menswear Style Podcast
Alberto Solana, Founder of Meriggi
Show Notes Transcript

Meriggi is a men's resortwear brand inspired by the Mediterranean: its storied past, enduring style and unhurried pace. Their take on a day well spent includes salt in the air and a cocktail al fresco. We indulge in the occasional amenity but only ask for good company and a long summer day. We appreciate places where the jet-set feel at home and joie de vivre fills the mind. The brand makes resortwear with the Mediterranean in mind. Their garments are tailored to the local fit and make no concession when it comes to the details. The patterns and palette are reflective of landscapes and a cultural richness that truly are one-of-a-kind. And most importantly, they believe in clothing that doesn’t change by the season, but rather gets better with age.

In this episode of the MenswearStyle Podcast we interview Alberto Solana, Founder of Meriggi about his investment banking background and his newly launched resortwear brand. Our host Peter Brooker and Alberto talk about his love for menswear, finding a gap in the market, designing a short for all occasions, learning from mistakes, and dealing with overseas manufacturers.

Whilst we have your attention, be sure to sign up to our daily MenswearStyle newsletter here. We promise to only send you the good stuff.

Support the show
PB:

Hello and welcome to another episode of the menswear style podcast. I'm your host Pete Brooker. Today I'm talking to Abby Solana. He is the founder of Marie G Meridian spell any our i o Double G i and it is a men's resort where brand inspired by the Mediterranean, its storied past enduring style and unhurried pace. And here to talk about the brand and a little bit about himself is Alby Solana.

Unknown:

So I'm Ali Slotta. Born and raised in San Francisco background by trade is in finance. So started in investment banking before kind of pursuing pursuing merici and kind of bringing it to life. How I would describe it, you know, I would say it's an elevated take on on resort wear. Think about, you know, what you would want to wear taking a trip to, you know, Italy or France or Spain or Greece in the summer,

PB:

what does the name come from?

Unknown:

The name took us a long time, but it's actually short for an old Italian word called mini Gianni. People aren't saying it anymore these days. But what it meant back in the day was kind of tourists under the shade at noon. So we took kind of this, this old Italian phrase, and chopped off the end. Thus we have merici.

PB:

Interesting. You mentioned the word us there. So are there are a couple of people behind you. How did you get this off the ground?

Unknown:

Yeah. So I have I have two partners that work with me. They've been fantastic. So yeah, we've been working on merici for, for, I want to say four years now. It's kind of crazy thinking about COVID. But But yeah, we've been working on 3g for a very long time. Although we just launched last summer.

PB:

I'm curious to know why this project for you. Because investment banking. My girlfriend was in the world of investment banking, and I know that she's got no appetite to go over to do anything in the fashion world. So I'm wondering how come you transferred over to this site,

Unknown:

I had always had like an inch of a deep interest in menswear. Like I was the kid in I don't know how this translates to England per se, but like the kid in sixth grade who wore a suit to like, you know, the school your headshots like it was ridiculous. And then I later paid my pretty much like paid my lunch money with South flipping sneakers in high school. So there had always been kind of a deep interest and appreciation for the industry. Like way back in the day, I'd always been kind of entrepreneurial, early on, but I entertained the idea of pursuing it in university, but like cooler heads prevailed. And so I studied finance instead. And so that obviously led me to kind of the bed to the job at the bank and in New York. But you know, as you can imagine, like, it's just like, not an environment that lends itself well to expressing yourself, like, especially at the junior level. And so it was really tough, because I had like this itch for Menswear. And I was like, How do I do this? Like what it like little subtle ways, and for me, it was like, okay, like, I can wear a specific kind of loafer or like a specific tie to work. But like that's, that's the extent of it.

PB:

Yeah, that's interesting. I've got a friend who's also from the IT world, and he had a very, still had a very keen sense for fashion. And he kind of went into the tailoring element, like, you know, what shirts he wanted to wear, because he, I think he preferred the buttoned up look, and still does, and that kind of felt like a suit of armour. Whereas I'm getting the vibe, and correct me if I'm wrong, but the brand for you. Feels like this is your lease from that world. This is what you have to spend more time doing. Yeah, I'm on the money that yeah, no,

Unknown:

that's That's exactly right. I mean, like, literally, it came about, like, the only time I was able to kind of like, wear what I wanted was like, on the weekends, or like, the one week a year trip that I took, and like the idea from a brand came about after my one week, a year, one week a year vacation. So So yeah, it's I would definitely say it's kind of a an escape from although don't get me wrong, like I'd love to put on a suit. You know, when when it's appropriate. Like I love I love it. I love wearing that.

PB:

Talk to me about the swim trunks. How? How do they come about? Do you take a hand in the design? Where do you feel is the fabrics? Yeah,

Unknown:

so as far as kind of how they how they came about the design wise, you know, at least when the idea came about, and we're talking about like, five, five years ago at this point. There weren't too many shorts on the market that kind of sat a decent bit above the knee. There's a heavy kind of surf community in the US so like, I just didn't really find shorts that like I felt were flattering and that could kind of like take me from the beach to like post post beach cocktails or even dinner, you know, like, in the summertime, like I'm living in my swim shorts. And it's not just like something I'm wearing in the water. And so really kind of designing a short that was fit for like, all occasions, really. And one that looked elegant at the beach and at dinner, as far as kind of like, sourcing it man, given I didn't come from the industry, like, it was a lot of trial and error.

PB:

Okay, so this is, this is a question that I get asked a lot on this podcast, especially Pete, where do I start where I don't know where to begin? So you have the idea, you have the germ of the idea, you might even have a little bit of capital. But yeah, it's a it's a big sea. And if you're not in that world, you can't take to it like a Marlin in open water, you got to start somewhere. So what where did you start? Where did you begin,

Unknown:

where I started led to a lot of mistakes. So rather than telling you where we where we messed up, I'll tell you what actually worked. I actually kind of had a friend who was actually now a formal adviser to to the business and the brand, but he was like, look for what you want, like, start with the fabric. There, there are these trade shows that take place around the world. And they're massive. So like you, I'm talking about everything from like swimwear, fabrics to like, for stuff for formal tailoring buttons and yarns. But they take place around the world. And so he was like, go there, book a trip, and I'm sure you're gonna find something. So I literally booked a ticket that day. It was like three weeks later. And you know, bear in mind, this is just an idea at the time, right? So like, I had to make fake business cards. Like, I had to, like create a one pager on like, the brand and the vision.

PB:

Oh, very cool. So you didn't you didn't have like a complete web builder or anything, but you just had maybe a mission statement or some kind of a concept?

Unknown:

Yes, exactly. So like we had, we had, like, created a prototype previously that were like, it just wasn't workable. But we did have a little bit of photography. And so we kind of like plastered it on this, like one pager. And sorry, you're right, we did have like a very bare bones like website previously. But the product just wasn't wasn't strong, and it wasn't there. And so kind of went to this trade show and introduced myself to several folks, and then ended up finding kind of the fabric suppliers for our swim shorts there. I was later kind of put in touch with somebody to help manufacture things overseas. Because, you know, just given where we wanted the short to sit in the market and price wise, like we knew we had to make this overseas, it's not something that we could do domestically. So yeah, it took a long time, it was several years in the making. But finally came came up with a product that we were happy with.

PB:

And it's a great product, I want to talk about it a little bit more. But I know you touched on some of the mistakes you made. And we don't want to kind of relive them or rehash them. But I do think it's important. And I know people that are listening to this, want to get an idea of the mistakes that people make along the way so that perhaps there's a bit of advice you can impart.

Unknown:

Yeah, I think I think like,

PB:

I put this, I'll give you a minute and just rehash a quote that I always like to cite about Dyson, he Hoover maker, he said, Well, I had to, like make 1000 mistakes so that I've got the right one in the end. I mean, you have like so many iterations of the final products. But each one of them had to be a huge mistake until he found out exactly which one he wanted. Did you find that you made a lot of shorts along the way that just weren't good enough and not the quality that you had in mind?

Unknown:

Totally. Yeah, like literally our I would say like our first, our first swim shore prototype that we made was, was like, literally felt like a raincoat or like this, like we want to have a fabric that felt like this. And then not having experience in the industry like feeling a swatch of something. And understanding how that like actually translates into a garment. Like I'm still not an expert at that today. Like it's something that I'm trying to get better at. But like I had no idea what it how it should watch would translate into a garment. Yeah, and so we bought like a bunch of fabric of this like swatch. The short the cut was actually correct, relatively correct. And it's not too far from like our current cut. But the fabric and the trim were just so far off from like what we wanted, right? And we found that like look like we can't just kind of leave it to somebody to help us like make all of the decisions like we have to go out and like get this get the inputs ourselves find the inputs ourselves and be prescriptive and like touch and feel things rather than getting a package of like 10 things shipped to us and say here are 10 swatches pick from them. And this is it. You got I went to a trade show and like every time I go I'm touching hundreds if not like 1000s of swatches of things right if because You know, only in person and only when you feel the hand, do you really understand like, what does that translate into? into a garment?

PB:

Yeah, that's interesting. That's something I picked up on when I did it. I did a very small course, fashion school here, like an evening course. And one of the first modules was fabric manipulation. Yeah. And you have to kind of get a load of fabric and drape it around like a mannequin like you see behind me. Right. Okay. I love this fabric. This reminds me of exactly what James Bond would wear when he's Bahamas, right? And then you think, Well, I can make a nice suit, check out that and you realise, oh, my God, you can't this isn't malleable. You can't turn this into anything. Yeah. So yeah, I think I really feel you there that you think well, I can see it, it looks good on the eye. But if you want to try and turn it into what you had in your mind, then it can be Worlds Apart.

Unknown:

Right? Yeah, it's, it's, I don't know how folks went with kind of proper backgrounds in the industry, like how they translate it, but like, it is like really, really challenging for me to do even to this day. So I think it's just something that we're gonna have to work on to get better.

PB:

Well, I mean, it must be quite hard when you have to delegate quite a bit as well. One question I was gonna ask were the comments made? You said overseas?

Unknown:

Yeah, they're overseas. So so our fabrics are shell fabric comes from a mill in northern Italy. And then our mesh comes from another one kind of in northern Portugal, the fabrics are sorry, the garment is cut and sewn in Egypt. So we're introduced to a great factory over there. And these guys have have only done bottoms for like 25 years or something like that. And so they have a pretty substantial swimwear business, and there's their great focus.

PB:

And do you find it harder to have a lot of the operations, not in San Francisco, or whatever. But you have to kind of have do you have people on ground zero over there where they are in Egypt to look over their shoulder and make things make sure things are running? Okay.

Unknown:

And it is really tough, like the timezone, the time zones are tough. So a lot of my my busiest times are really early in the morning and really late at night, because I'm trying to catch the end of their day or the beginning of their day, depending on the hour. But yeah, we have, we have folks on the ground there that kind of oversee things I am personally visiting, like every factory that we work with. So I want to say like two months ago now, I spent two weeks a week in Egypt, kind of meeting with the folks. So we're doing our swim, and then a week in Turkey, where we're making some other other products. And I'm really excited for

PB:

Nice, nice. Well, I guess it always helps that you're going to these places to like you're going to Greenland or anything like that. And it's got some adventure there in Egypt, Italy's not such a bad place to drop by. Yeah, I mean, I think looking at also the website, by the way, people can find Murray g.com, and it's a double G. We'll leave all the links over on the show notes. But the website does have a slice of that Talented Mr. Ripley feel, you know, that kind of exotic, you know, sunkissed moments, I think that's just the the overall writing ARC of this is something that you would actually take and have those kind of Sunset cocktails with either by the pool. You mentioned, you can probably take that and then have a have a dinner afterwards. Maybe if it's in the hotel, so what was it like getting the website off the ground? Did you have to kind of oversee all of that as well? Did that fall on your lap?

Unknown:

Yeah, I mean, great reference, by the way, it's like literally one of my I love both of these references, because counsel Mr. Referee is one of my all time favourite movie, the scene in the Bahamas and CRLs like one of my all times ever seen, so like, shout out? Yeah, creating the website. So we actually just redesigned our website for this coming summer. And, man, that was a process. So previously, we had done everything ourselves. But we were like, Look, we're not we're not developers like we need we need some like real help really put are kind of came together as a as a team. And I actually wasn't the one overseeing kind of the the Econ development, we work together to kind of come up with a design but actually like putting it and translating it into kind of like code was one of my partners.

PB:

Congrats, lb. I love the shorts. I love the brand, people on the YouTube will see me holding up a pair of shorts that you were kind enough to send on. These are actually kind of just a bit more subtle. They're a dark navy, they're a solid colour. But I quite liked the classic look of something like this, I recommend. We both reference bond early. I feel like this is actually quite a bonding thing. But there's also more flashy and showy fabrics, you do have a contrast. So you have like something for more or less everyone that wants to maybe play a little bit more safe and a bit more mature versus a young element, a young vibe that's going on there.

Unknown:

Yeah, totally. We felt so our initial collection like I would say kind of skewed a little a little darker. And then for example, I'm wearing I'm actually wearing the Navy shorts right now, this summer. You know, we wanted to kind of bring a little bit of warmth into the collection, so a lot of the colours so specially this summer like kind of feel a little bit warmer, a little bit brighter, but still kind of true to the colour palette of the brand, which is like very much inspired by kind of like the Mediterranean and the coastline and things you'd come across in the cities over there.

PB:

I know you got a hot out. I'll be we said on the email that you got to catch a plane. Are you going? Somewhere? Nice. Are you going to LA at the moment?

Unknown:

No, I wish I was just just headed down to down to LA. My car has been in the shop. So I have to pick it up and drive it back up. So

PB:

it must be nice to get over. Do you have like a favourite part of Italy that you can go to and wear the shirts?

Unknown:

I would probably say like I'd say like LaGuardia has we did our campaign there last summer. We we shot it in a different a few different places. So we did a couple. We were in Kamali for a few days and then Santa Margarita Liguria for a couple of days and like that area was and this was like right after Italy opened up so it's hard. So I don't know what it I don't know what it's like in like, in a normal environment with all the tourists but it was such a special place to be and everybody that we met was so kind and the colours were incredible. Like, probably probably my favourite place at least, like by the water in Italy.

PB:

There's no place like it. I'm lucky enough to have been to haven't been to any of the parts you mentioned. But I imagine places like Chiang Cutera would be a great photo shoot, General. I've been up and kind of done the tour from the top to the bottom that we've been to. And we mentioned The Talented Mr. Ripley. I've been to Isla Biscay, not out of Ischia. It's weird. So you have Ischia and Capri like next to each other. You can actually see one island from to the app and everyone talks about Capri, but it doesn't have any beaches. It's a skier that's got the beaches. That's where you go. That's why everyone kind of moves their yachts up that you see free, but you don't get any beach shots over and Capri you got to go over to Ischia, which is on the other side.

Unknown:

Yeah, no, totally the rock the rock formations are gorgeous, though.

PB:

Yeah. It's actually quite a cool Flexi I was so lucky someone they had a volcano eruption a couple of years ago, and had a had a really bad time on the island and the hospitality industry were kind of like screwed, basically. Because yeah, all the tourists went away. So they did this huge campaign where they got some writers in some journalists to tell everyone that SQ is open again. So I was lucky I got pulled that for the good straw, and that one got invited over so that's another show. I'll be your favourite film. That beaches San Francisco and or the Golden Gate Bridge. Right under the bus with these great. I'll, I'll go first. I mean, so the Golden Gate Bridge, I think, has remained unmolested for about 100 years, wherever filmmaking and now every disaster movie seems to want to take out the Gulf.

Unknown:

I know it was like the first thing that came to mind was like one of the rocks movies or something like Yeah,

PB:

yeah, every kind of anything that happened to a hurricane or a force of nature. The first thing that goes especially on the posters is the Golden Gate Bridge. But my favourite San Francisco Film with the Golden Gate Bridge of View to a Kill your Roger Moore, Christopher Walken. dukhan out at the top of that.

Unknown:

Man, I honestly like cannot say I know it.

PB:

Oh, you're gonna go back on well, just go back and watch review. Tokyo gets this incredible Bond movie. Yeah. And then you have the the penultimate ending. I won't tell you how it goes. But But yeah, they're having a fight on top of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Unknown:

And you know, it's, it's, it's on my like, on my bucket list, or one of the one of the things I want to do is like, go through all of the bottom movies, like start to finish. And it's like something I always want to do on a plane and then I get on the plane and then I'm like, well, there's like 50 movies. 50 movies in front of me. Yeah. ever get around to it. It's so unfortunate.

PB:

It's one movie that's not 60 years old. I'm gonna watch this. No, I feel Yeah, I feel but I'm also very jealous. Oh, yeah. Not having seen all the Bond movies. Crikey. Yeah, no, it's it's enviable place to definitely honour to do what you got to think of it as product research. So I've interviewed a couple of other founders. I won't mention their names here for other swimwear brands. And they've had Sean Connery and the likes of the bonds on the mood boards right from the beginning. So they've there's always a streak of bond and we mentioned the shorts that we have here a very reminiscent of what you might see Daniel Craig were in the in the Bahamas or Jamaica. Yeah. So I imagine it's on your mood board as well. So

Unknown:

Totally Yeah, unfortunately, unfortunately, it's the mood boards digital right now.

PB:

Unfortunately behind him, he's just got the shopping list on the the whiteboard. But we won't we won't dwell on that. I'll be real great talking to you. Congrats on the brand. Thanks so much again for sending through the shorts. Murray g.com The place you can go and hang out at very G on Instagram, and follow the journey

Unknown:

there. That's right. Thank you so much, Pete. It's been it's been such a joy chatting, I can't thank you enough.

PB:

You've been listening to the 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