Indigo Icons: Maurizio Donadi, the archivist of pre-loved garments

Passionate about denim, Maurizio Donadi honed his skills with some of the industry’s biggest names. Today, he dedicates himself to the Transnomadica project, “a brand that isn’t” and a vast archive of nearly 15,000 exceptional pieces, encompassing not only fashion but also furniture, books, and accessories. While he keeps secret the precious addresses where he finds his treasures, he granted an interview to the Première Vision team to look back on his career, his relationship with denim, and to share his expert advice.

Portrait Maurizio Donadi

You’ve worked with major names in fashion, from Armani to Ralph Lauren, Diesel and Levi’s to name a few. What did you learn from working for these brands? 

I was extremely lucky to have worked with some extraordinary companies and brands in some particularly interesting times. I learnt so much just being there and closely observing the focus and vision of their founders. At the end of my corporate career, I was left with the clear idea that to succeed in life and in business, you need to follow your instinct, no matter what. 

How has it shaped your new project Transnomadica?

Transnomadica is a brand that isn’t. It is an adhocracy rather than a company. The starting point is an archive of about 15,000 objects (clothing, furniture, books, home decor, accessories and so on) that serve as inspiration for everything we do for our clients and ourselves. Our small in-house atelier brings to life fast prototyping and limited-edition product stories, based on what we learnt from our archives. Oftentimes, it is complete experimentation.

Maurizio Donadi collections

“Brands come to us to find inspiration, while companies come for strategy and individuals come to find items that enhance their personal style. The majority of these initiatives are unplanned—instinct drives everything. And that is exactly how life naturally evolves.”

How did you coin the name Transnomadica?

It intrinsically signifies the nomadic nature of learning from every culture.

Why did you start collecting vintage pieces? 

My interest in collecting started in the late 80s, early 90s, as my career evolved from technical to more creative and brand focused roles. Having an interest in products helped me make better business decisions and vice-versa. 

Do you have specific criteria when choosing your pieces? 

“I don’t look for anything in particular.
I let objects find and choose me.”

Donadi collections

What country or region is the best source for you?

I will never tell you where I do my sourcing, but I can guarantee that I rarely go to flea markets (Rose Bowl included). 

Why do you think younger generations are ever more attracted to second-hand clothing?

Second-hand clothes come with a patina and naturally faded colors that belong to other times. The fabrics drape differently, the fits are different, and the clothes react differently to your skin. This unique combination allows young people as well as not-so-young ones to see the past as a natural enhancer of their personalities without being trapped in fashion trends and marketing messages. With second-hand and vintage clothes, you can be a lot more creative and experimental. 

Do you think upcycling can become the new normal?

It is already the new normal. 

Transnomadica by Donadi

The textile industry has been shaken up by environmental concerns, financial difficulties and changing consumer habits. In this context, how do you see the future of denim? What challenges does it face?

These are very difficult questions to answer. 

“The denim industry is a broken system—as every industry seems to be at the moment.”

In fact (outside apparel), if you look at food, cars, phones, footwear, appliances, boats, atomic bombs, furniture, etc.: we are overproducing everything and anything in enormous quantities, with questionable quality, without any concern for the environment and for the people, and very often without any serious need. Denim is just part of a system that allows all the above to happen without serious control. 

Is there an innovation in the denim world that fascinates you and that you would like to use?

Creation and innovation come from small brands designing products differently or large textile companies heavily investing in regenerating waste, creating biodegradable and/or compostable fabrics. Of course, factories are getting cleaner and wages are ever more taken into consideration, wash-houses are now using alternative chemicals, reducing water consumption, etc. But fundamentally, we are still oversupplying the world with more stuff, which may be cleaner, but still exceeds demand

Which countries or regions do you consider to be the most vibrant in the denim world today?

“From Islamabad to Los Angeles and from Buenos Aires to Milan, denim is still vibrant is many different ways but not as a global movement anymore.”

The vintage and upcycled jeans business is globally booming, while traditional five-pocket brands are only keeping up thanks to intense marketing initiatives. I sometimes find fashion/luxury denim interesting as far as shapes and treatments are concerned, but they are extremely exclusive, mainly for because of their price point and unwearable fits.

Transnomadica by Maurizio Donadi

Is there an item in your collection that you want your children to have and wear? 

I would want them to choose on their own without thinking of me and what I like. 

What is the denim fit you will never wear?

I have not worn denim in the last 15 years. However, I would never, ever succumb to a pair of skinny stretch jeans.

What sound and what smell do you associate with denim?

Intriguing question. For sound, it will definitely be the uncontaminated sound of nature: birds, wind, waterfalls, and so on.

“I generally associate denim with the romantic sense of freedom dear to the 70s, not particularly with the rock’n’roll sound.”

For smell, the one that is the least chemical. No smell, in this case, is a preferable one. 

What is the fashion item you wish you had created?

None. Instead, I wish I had invented/created a utilitarian object to improve the way we live, that would be available to everyone and repairable. Oh well, I still have time for that. Maybe in denim. 

What is your favourite shade of blue?

The one that shows a life well lived. 

Should you iron your jeans? 


How often should you wash them?


Donadi collections
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