Last year I had the pleasure of meeting Gennaro in his hometown and discovered that his story was incredible. When it comes to vintage, something we all have collected and dabbled in, Gennaro is somewhat of a “Maestro”. His intricate eye spotting hidden gems at markets, the knowledge of brands in general and production that went into making pieces just blew me away. Travelling the world to discover new brands he is the go to for boutique vintage in Italy and has supplied pieces to the likes of Jeremy Scott, Madison Beer, Fedez and a whole list of Italian figures.
“I have been around clothes my entire life. My family was the first to introduce ready to wear clothes to Naples, Italy back in the 1950’s. My Dad was also the first to bring in the Milanese subculture “Paninaro” to my city Torre Del Greco and was selling tons of jeans each week.
At around the age of 17, I started selling deadstock Paninaro clothes from my dad’s stockroom. I was doing it very cheap as I was a teeneager and all I needed was spray paint and weed. However, working with all these clothes from the past, the labels, appreciating the logos, I developed an interest in nostalgia pieces, “Vintage”. Running out of old stock to sell, I started buying second-hand clothes from local flea markets in Naples and surrounding Campania. I built relationships with the sellers who taught me so much about military surplus and denim which was the core of my sales at the time. My interest in “Vintage” was greatly influenced by these people but as my passion grew, the circle of people who I could share this passion with shrank.
I visited London when I was 18 years old and immediately found what I was looking for. People who shared this obsession with vintage the same way I did. So in 2011, I packed up and left Naples but kept a close relationship with my contacts and roots back home.
I started working at a vintage store in Brick Lane called Blitz (Now Atika) and I was the store manager there for 6 years. In that time I learned almost everything I know about Vintage. Everytime I would return to Naples for a holiday, I would go back to these markets and find amazing pieces and gems that I would not have paid attention to before. I actually came to realise that most of the vintage shops in London were buying stock from Naples, which put me in an amazing position as I began working as a middle man for the local wholesalers. Neapolitan is a very difficult language and mostly, they wanted me there to translate.
This was a great time of my life, I was in my second year at University, part time manager at Atika and then every three weeks I would fly back to Naples and buy a tonne of clothes. By the end of 2018, I was buying for almost 40 stores in Europe and flying back to Naples twice per month. Sadly, I got bored of buying for stores and losing my passion because it was always the same brands (Stone Island, Moschino, Versace, JPG, Cp Company). As much as I love those brands, I was raised to appreciate all kinds of good second hand clothing which aren’t always flashy brand names.
I took a break and decided to go my own way and create something that would eliminate the monotonous sourcing of such brands. Of course I still wanted to sell designer brands because some pieces are incredible, but alongside that, clothes from the past that were made with the love and passion that I found when I began whether that be a hand-knitted jumper or some 90’s made jeans from an unknown brand.
From this PEZZE was born. PEZZE when translated to English means “Rags” and is the name used in Neapolitan to identify second-hand clothing. The logo symbolises the shipping container that all second-hand clothes are moved around the world. The combination of the name and logo were part of a process that strengthened my thought of representing clothes at their raw state, no label makes one better than the other, they are all PEZZE after all.
In April of 2019, I opened my first physical store inside a shipping container in Vinegar yard, London Bridge. Unfortunately Covid has severely impacted the functioning of the store and it is now open on the weekends. It has been a very difficult time for small businesses but we are finally now open again on weekends.
For the Covid period I decided to return to my hometown Torre Del Greco just outside of Central Naples, it’s much easier for me to run the business from here, we have the weather and sun and I opened my showroom just next to my house so it is perfect for me. I do all of my business online and on instagram. However, the main difficulty now is Brexit. The cost of shipping from Italy to the UK has increased by 3 times. I charge £15 when in reality it’s £20/25 but I want to make it fairer for the customer so I take the hit. It just means I have to work harder.
I’ll be returning to London as soon as I can to open a boutique style shop in homage to my family history. Right now the store in Vinegar Yard is just a project but I want to really cement Pezze in London. And from there, Milan and other cities that are lacking true vintage boutique stores”