How did a clothing obsessed skateboarder from Florence, with no formal fashion design training, become a lead designer for some of the most influential skate brands and fashion retailers today?
This is the story of Francesco Pini.
ONE37pm: Where are you from and how did you get into skateboarding?
Pini: I'm from Florence, Italy, but I've been residing in Malmö, Sweden for about 13 years now.
I got into skateboarding from just going to my neighborhood’s “Boards” store when I was about 17 or 18. I remember the local skate hero had a VHS copy of Fulfill the Dream and he dropped it off at the store to just loop it in there for a few days. Next thing you know, the owner pirated a bunch of copies and I ended up getting one. Since the first day I saw Smolik, Brandon Turner, Muska and the rest of the team, I got into it. That video is still to this day so perfect.
How did you start designing?
Depends on what typology of design we are talking about. For graphic design, it started randomly: a friend here in Malmö needed a graphic for his small skateboard brand and since I used to do some tattooing at home for some of his friends, he thought I could draw something for him. The result was kind of basic, literally just a drawing on a tee and a hoodie barely vectorized, but it was enough to make me want to do more and learn how to work Illustrator and Photoshop, so I could get a better final product.
After that, I started testing some stuff on the merch I was producing for the vintage store I had at the time. Then I started doing some stuff for Kosta at Quartersnacks and other friends. Always on a friendly tip, but the stuff would be produced on a bigger scale and sold in stores worldwide, so that slowly became more satisfying and turned into a job.
As for the clothing design, that started professionally with a job at Polar and grew from there.
I´ve never done or studied fashion design, but I have definitely been obsessed with clothing my whole entire life, so that helped develop an eye for it. I remember that since second/third grade, I used to get off of school around noon and I'd go directly to the sports store across the street to help them unpack the new arrivals. I was really into the NBA and they had all the Shaq Reebok gear and all the Jordan stuff coming in on a weekly basis.
I would stay there so long sometimes they had to warn my family that this was happening, so they wouldn’t stress when they didn’t see me come back home.
Later in my youth, I started asking my mom to help me refit clothes I had that I felt didn’t fit right. So with her help I got a bit more hands on with some sewing and fitting. From then on, I always messed around with clothing, but it never became a job until Polar.