I dare say that is hard pressed to find a person who encompasses the ideal modern Renaissance man than Patrick Dempsey so it is quite fitting that when I met him, it happened in the city of Florence. Born in small-town Maine and married nearly 20 years to celebrity makeup artist Jillian Dempsey (with three kids), he is well known worldwide for capturing the hearts of many in both the small and big screen as one of the most-loved American actors. But, he also has a need for speed as a passionate race-car driver and proud team owner at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Nowadays, he is adding the role of business partner to KA/NOA, a fast-developing men’s brand that is 100% Made in Italy, from the yarn to the label, and a personal project initiated by Bruno Grande and his wife Valerie dedicated to these core values: quality & simplicity.
A relatively new brand, how does KA/ NOA continue to innovate on Italy's menswear tradition?
You stay with the tradition. You want someone who will take that sense of tradition and then innovate, because they’ll want to make their own stamp on the brand. So, we decided to look around and see what people are into, all while taking inspiration from Italy’s architecture, light, and literature to gather information.
Can you tell us more about the brand’s origins and commitment to the made in Italy sustainability?
It comes from Bruno and his relationship with his father who was a tailor, he is very proud of where he comes from, he wants to keep that tradition alive. What’s beautiful about what they do is that they keep people employed in a craft that is slowly dying all while using the highest quality raw materials – leather, suede, boiled wool, merino wool, technical wool, SUPER 100s wool, cashmere and cotton – all spun, woven and Made in Italy. Obviously being so meticulous regarding this level of manufacturing is challenging, but it is ultimately far more rewarding. How much money is enough money? I think as long as we can keep the doors open and keep people employed and put money back into the company so that they can provide for their families, that I think, is the true meaning of success.
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How does KA/ NOA appeal to the needs of contemporary men while staying true to its roots?
Everything is complimentary, everything is meant to go together, everything is meant to be easy to travel so that you can pack and put everything into one bag. It’s not a wardrobe meant for one season but instead offers over a hundred possible outfit combinations from a few basic models. Thanks to its timeless style and Made- in-Italy quality textiles and materials, it does a great job of standing the test of time. These are items that should hang proud in your closet, something you can hand down to a brother or even a sister for years to come.
How would you describe the KA/ NOA man?
He’s a guy on the go! Someone that likes style, appreciates quality, textures and durability. This person travels and, appreciates that their wardrobe is something they don’t have to worry too much about. They can put any one of these pieces on and yet-- stay confident.
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Patrick, how does the KA/NOA brand speak to your personal taste? How do you make it your own?
I appreciate the fact that it is a family-run company and the fact that it is classic and timeless -- yet it is modern too, that’s what I love. I want to look at a picture in ten years’ time and go “hey I’m not a fashion victim." If you’ve seen the documentary on Netflix “True Cost” it can help you understand that just because something is cheap and trendy, it doesn’t make it good, or ethical, as a product. I’d rather spend more and have something I will enjoy forever. I cherish the fact that I will have these items for a lifetime.
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