The Powerhouse of Patagonia,An Interview with Marcelo Burlon
Marcelo Burlon’s journey from provincial Argentinian to international cool kid status all began with a few choice gigs as a DJ. With the help of social media promotions and connections, the Patagonian native soon found himself pulled into the limelight, spinning at venues around the world. “I started traveling quite a lot,” Burlon says, developing an international network through his travels. This group of friends slowly turned into Burlon’s own PR empire, which now includes the likes of Nike, Adidas, Versace, and Prada. Burlon took his all-star roster of clients, combined with his musical gifts, and translated it into an event-planning business that now runs some of the biggest shows in Italy, from Missoni to No.21. Burlon’s career continued its organic growth when he launched his own brand, County of Milan. “It was like a family, and people around the world wanted to join in,” he remembers.
It was about two years ago when Burlon began small with a line of stunning, geometrically patterned tees. They quickly became some of the most desirable pieces on the market, leading to collaborations with Lebron James and Pusha T, reigning kings of streetwear hype. Burlon expanded the scope of the brand by applying its signature graphics onto other pieces to create a full collection. Looking in every direction at once, Burlon seeks to bridge disparate industries and cultures. “I don’t see divisions,” he says. “I see human beings and different cultures. Every person is unique, and that is incredibly interesting.”
How have you managed to translate your roots into a global vision and perspective on art and design?
The graphics are a means of communication. The best way I found to express my aesthetic and my roots was to create a T-shirt line. Now it has become a collection of full looks.
Is it true you were Michael Jordan’s stylist for a day?
That was an amazing and inspiring experience. When MJ was visiting Milan, I was called on by Nike to be his personal shopper for one day. He was super nice and easy going. We started shopping early in the morning, very relaxed, but by lunch time everyone knew Michael was around downtown. We were at Prada, and all his fans gathered in front of the entrance hoping to take some pictures of him—like 500 people blocking the door—so security and I had to make up some plan. In the end, we found a way to sneak Michael through the back door.
Your repeated animal print motifs are particularly striking. What drew you to this imagery?
The idea for animals came to me because that’s what we are. And in this specific case, I’ve chosen all the animals that belong to Patagonia or South America.
What is your position on the use of real animals in fashion?
I don’t like the idea of using furs and exotic animals in general for clothing. Once I had to work as a sound designer for a fur brand, and I couldn’t take it. I turned down the job because it was too sad, and the superficiality of these people shocked me.
You consider yourself an outsider, even after working for so long in the industry. How is that reflected in your work?
I’ve been an outsider since I was born. It’s something that you have in your DNA. I work for many companies, but what I do for them is bring a little of my world into theirs. The success of my events depend on that.
Your designs for County of Milan seem to perfectly aestheticize underground youth culture. What subculture has attracted your attention and inspires you these days?
Today, with Internet globalization, everything has become universal—subcultures don’t really exist anymore. I’m attracted to all the weirdos and street kids who manage to be unique and stand out from the masses.
What do you think County of Milan offers that other brands do not?
County of Milan is not just a clothing label. There’s so much music behind it; I’m selling the whole package. It’s like a new wave, a new movement, [that includes] Hood by Air, Pigalle, KTZ, Astrid Andersen, Palace. My customer doesn’t buy my brand because of the clothing itself, but because they want to belong to this weird, big family. When they see their icons—French Montana, LeBron James, Victor Cruz, Russell Westbrook, 50 Cent, Rick Ross, G-Dragon, 2NE1, Rita Ora—wearing County of Milan, they feel they are part of this somehow.
What is your WILD Wish?
To have a relaxing life on my farm in Patagonia and to be the father of two or three kids.
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