Claudio De Rossi is a dapper and well-dressed peacock (above), with a passion for expertly tailored clothing. Whether he’s doing paperwork in his office, dashing around on his scooter, or just hanging out with his kids—he is always polished and well put together. Claudio, and his wife Cristina, are well established and long time members of the Italian Mod community. In 1993 they opened a vintage clothing shop for men and women called DNA Groove, in Vicenza, Italy—catering to people who like unique clothing and the Mod-style. They launched their own DNA Groove clothing line in 1999, starting with the high collar button down Italian made shirt. Trousers, suits, crombie coats and knitwear soon followed—all made in Italy and at a very reasonable price point.
They use only high quality fabrics and every piece has exquisite details, like cloth covered buttons on select trousers. DNA Groove only produces a small quantity of their goods, nothing is mass produced—so you probably won't see someone else wearing your DNA Groove purchases. The shop also stocks belts, ties, cuff links, hats, socks and t-shirts—all selected with Claudio's astute sartorial eye. Whatever your taste, there is something for you at DNA Groove...and everything is available online.
*Peacock Note— Claudio answered these questions wearing: fine merino wool, long sleeve, off white, long 3 button polo collar knitted top; heavy weight combed wool prince of Wales check (with burgundy overlap check) stepped trousers; dark burgundy chisel toe wide basket weave lace up kangaroo leather shoes, black socks; college boy cut.
Mr. Peacock: How would you describe your own style?
Claudio De Rossi: Classic Gentleman threads with a nod to Ivy League Americana; 60's Italian cuts; and British Modernist with attention to detailing.
MP: Where did you grow up?
CR: Spent all my life travelling the world, as my father was an engineer. However, I did my teens, and graduated from the High School at the International School in Manila, Philippines (Class ‘86). This surely helped me keep an open mind in life, with the blending of various cultures and people. By the way, I was born in Eritrea.
Above left to right: Claudio stylishly lounging at DNA Groove.
MP: How old were you when you realized you were a peacock?
CR: December 8, 1980—John Lennon got assassinated and thanks to media attention a petite twelve year old got hooked on 60's clothing, music and style. From that day onwards, I knew I was on to something—and I knew what I wanted, stylistically. Since then, my tastes haven’t changed much and unlike most fashionistas, I have always, to this day, disliked mainstream fashion and always lived in my own little 'style world’.
MP: Who are your style icons?
CR: Cary Grant, 60's Michael Caine, Astaire, the cool Jazz Cats of Blue Note.
Above left to right: Michael Caine in the mid 60's, John Coltraine on Blue Note Records, Rude Boy Style, and Cary Grant.
MP: Who or what has influenced your style?
CR: The whole Modernist thing of Ivy League, cool Italian suits, and London Gent look, along with Jamaican Rude Boy style of the early 60's (which was none other than their interpretation of the IVY look—so back to square one). I'd say the early to mid sixties period is still today my most influential element, be it music, fashion or design. However, I try to incorporate these styles to my clothes in a subtle way, without running the risk of sticking out like a sore thumb.
Above: DNA Groove has a nice selection of knitwear and sweaters.
MP: Do you have a favorite menswear designer or brand?
CR: I have never liked what was thrown at the masses and was never one to buy based on labels. I for one DO NOT place any external, visible labels on my clothes. I hated them when I was twelve and still do now. Nothing ever catered to my tastes, so that is why I eventually started designing the clothes myself. Before having my own brand, I would either source dead stock vintage clothing, or visit my local tailor. Since the mid nineties, fashion took a turn for the better—but it was too late for me. Today, as far as designers go—I like Ozwald Boateng, and some Paul Smith. Then there are the few American labels, which still stick to what they do best (think Brooks Brothers for example).
Above: Italian high collar button down shirts in checks, solids, stripes, and plaids—whatever you're looking for, you'll find something to your liking at DNA Groove.
MP: What's your favorite item in your wardrobe?
CR: Currently ostrich leg chisel toe lace up shoes in a very dark, deep brown
MP: What city has the best-dressed men?
Above: A sampling of the DNA Groove collection of trousers—notice the cloth covered button detailing (left and right).
MP: What do you think of the current state of men's apparel?
CR: Esthetically overall, much better than the past 2 decades; cuts have gotten sharper and designers have been 'looking back' at finer sartorial times. References to the golden age of fashion have been regularly appearing from Bottega Veneta to Lacoste, Penguin, Levis etc...However quality has generally worsened—and one would think as time passes the ethics behind the major's would improve, but I'm afraid this is wishful thinking. It's of course, about making the bucks at whatever cost, be it employing kids in Bangladesh or illegal Chinese immigrants in garages in Italy.
Above left to right: Claudio is ready for Spring and Summer.
MP: What's your favorite item at DNA Groove right now?
CR: The afore mentioned ostrich leg lace up shoes and a light green with overlapping darker green windowpane check tweed suit (pink lining). I wish it were my size!
Above: Order your chic DNA Groove Bermuda Shorts now—you'll be ready when the weather gets hot.
MP: Did you always want to own a store, or did it happen through serendipity?
CR: Let me google 'serendipity' a sec...(LOL). I was working as a Sales Manager for Forte Hotels in northeast Italy—nothing to do with fashion. But when you live, breathe, and bleed a passion for certain styles, this is something that cannot be taught, you pick it up with time and dedication. What I do regret is not going to tailoring school, now that's something I really would have loved to do—I'm a designer, not a tailor.
Above: DNA Groove also has a great selection of shoes. Mr. Peacock is swooning over the suede (left) and the corduroy and leather shoes (center and right).
It was by chance that I bought out a vintage clothing store that was closing, but a few years later I started getting restless. I wanted to sell clothes I really liked, but these were the ones I was getting tailored for myself, so I thought about a collection that included shirts and trousers. That was November 1999...
MP: Any advice for gentlemen peacocks?
CR: Do your own thing and never-you-mind what the world is wearing (although, you peacocks already know this—wink). Walk that thin line that is Dandyism very carefully—as it can backfire, but do walk it!
Above left to right: Claudio on a Mod scooter; hanging out with his kids.
MP: Sartorial faux pas?
CR: Lengthy trousers (damn that is something that didn’t exist pre-1970, where did it all go wrong??); Ill-fitting clothes (either too baggy or too tight); black suit – white shirt -black tie: only to a funeral (maybe).
Above: In addition to amazing tailored clothing, DNA Groove also has great graphics available on t-shirts.
MP: What’s next for Claudio and DNA Groove?
CR: We currently left Italy, and moved north of Barcelona. Production is still left to the Italians and I work from my home office/showroom/shop and run my online shop from here. No major changes to the clothes, but I continue doing what has always been my passion and, since 1996, my work: look for fabrics, design clothes and thank and kiss my lovely wife and kids, with a smile.
Above: Andy Scott, manager of West London's Brentford Football Club, on TV—wearing DNA Groove.
DNA Groove is also sponsoring a young soccer manager, Andy Scott—manager of West London's Brentford F.C. He was recently voted Best Manager of the year by London BBC Radio. Andy is the youngest professional soccer/football manager in the UK, at the moment. He's often seen on Sky Sports, ITV, and other Sports programs commentating and wearing DNA Groove clothing. Brentford are in Division Two football and are currently top of the League. I would certainly want to get Mr. Scott best dressed Manager award for 2009 as well!
Above: Treat yourself to a chic Italian made outfit at DNA Groove!
Be sure to stop by the DNA Groove online shop, it radiates with Claudio’s vision and sartorial touch. Remember, DNA Groove does not mass produce their clothing lines, so you’re getting something well made and unique that fits your own style. And check out “Claudio Suggests” on the DNA Groove website, where Claudio puts together inspiring seasonal outfits, with the latest DNA Groove merchandise. Claudio also shares “What's Claudio Wearing” on the website—so you can be inspired with photos of Claudio's personal wardrobe choices. Thank you Claudio De Rossi!