Workwear, military functionality, and rock’n’roll—this is Department Five
Anything from Department Five will make you look effortlessly cool. The Italian brand blends innovation and vintage influences in its collections, reinterpreting iconic styles in a contemporary key.
You’ll find double-breasted peacoats, college-style loafers, leather jackets, flannel shirts, hoodies, chino pants, and parkas, all produced in Italy by Catria Confezioni, a manufacturer with great expertise in tailoring, fabric research, and dyeing.
We reached out to Department Five to find out more about their unique approach to fashion.
The Department Five Story
What’s the story behind Department Five? Tell us about how the brand came to be, and what the name means.
Mario Cangini and Nicola Silvagni founded Department Five in 2007.
To fully understand Department Five story, it is essential to go back to 1977, when Cangini opened Space Number Five, a small boutique in Milano Marittima, on the Riviera Romagnola in Italy, which quickly became a directional store for the whole fashion system, with the shortened name of Space. He mixed unique vintage pieces with the most exciting brands of the time, like Azzedine Alaïa, Montana, Kenzo, Thierry Mugler, Jean Paul Gaultier, and Comme Des Garçons.
Nicola Silvagni was young then and hugely into music and fashion and when he crossed paths with Cangini and his free-spirited universe. He acknowledged Mario’s outstanding aesthetic and happily joined the Space team. Silvagni and Cangini turned into real friends, with the same unconventional way to engage customers with the right product at the right time. They feel the trends before they get too mainstream and they only buy collections they firmly believe in.
When they launched Department Five in 2007, with Silvagni as the Creative Director and Cangini as his strategic alter-ego, they start with menswear. Their key point is blending workwear and military functionality with a rock attitude and the most intriguing trends of the time.
How would you describe Department Five in three words?
Quality, modernity, appearance.
Key Piece To Collect: Trousers
What makes Department 5 trousers special? Give us some more details about the cut and fit.
Our trousers are special because of their wearability and our use of high-quality fabrics.
Every model is created to best fit a different kind of physique: the Mike is designed for a slim figure, the David for a normal figure, the Prince works best for a Mediterranean physique, and the Queen for a Northern European physique. These are our carryovers—we also have other models that vary from season to season.
We mainly use stretch fabrics, and pay special attention to the fabric “memory”, making sure that, even after wearing them for hours, the trousers will go back to their original shape.
Your designs are inspired by workwear and military wear. Why is this style so appealing to the newer generations?
Fashion trends are always resurfacing, and the newer generations love reinterpreting iconic looks from the 1980s and 1990s in a contemporary key. We’ve always been fascinated by those shapes. Military pieces such as the field jacket, the fatigue trouser and the peacoat have become our trademark.
We also believe there’s a growing sensitivity towards environmental issues, which is why vintage clothes are so trendy lately. Our goal, for the next few years, is to increase our sustainability, using more eco-friendly materials.
How does Department Five find a balance between innovation and vintage influences in its collections?
We find a balance by using innovative materials on iconic, vintage-inspired styles. We also use special dyeing techniques and treatments to give our clothes a vintage feel.
Your pieces are produced by Catria Confezioni, an Italian company with great tailoring expertise. Tell us some more about the manufacturing process.
The production process starts within the company: we begin with the creation of the prototype, which, once perfected, leads to the final sample. Every model undergoes several trials before production is confirmed. This way, we can guarantee the quality of our product, in terms of fabrics, tailoring, and wearability.
Which materials do you primarily use, and why?
When choosing our materials, we are always inspired by military wear. We especially love structured fabrics—even with stretch fabrics, we always make sure they’re structured. This allows our clothes to have clean lines, which characterize Department Five.
What’s Next For Department Five
Department Five was launched in 2007. How has the fashion industry changed over the course of the last 14 years?
We’ve seen a big change with the emergence of online stores, as well as with the success of mass market fashion, which has drastically reduced the production times and the buying dynamics.
In this scenario, Department Five has managed to carve its own space, and that’s giving us a lot of satisfaction.
And how has Department Five changed in that same time?
Over the years, Department Five has updated and modernized its style, while at the same time staying true to its DNA.
Where do you see Department Five in five years?
We will definitely expand our presence on the international market. We also want to use more eco-friendly materials in our collections.