Waimea is a small Italian brand founded in 2004 by Emiliano Santiago Arrieta, the most anti-fashion guy I ever met in my life. Half Italian and half Argentinian, he doesn’t care about trends, never read Vogue in his life and only think about surf, motorbikes and girls. He’s wild at heart, only he’s got a great warm heart, madly in love with life.
Above, you see a close up of Waimea store in Milano. A framed picture of a surfer stands close to the register and it makes sense to have it there, because that’s how it all started. Emiliano is a hot-head, too much energy for the bourgeois Milanese lifestyle. Instead of entering a university and finding a good job, Arrieta left for South Africa where he just rode waves. He travelled around the world with his board and, when returning to Italy, he kept his spirit untamed.
We’ve been friends for ten years and yet I haven’t managed to find out, exactly, how he ended up designing a clothing collection, named like Waimea Bay in Hawaii. He fumbles something about wanting to do stuff that he and his friends could actually wear and about Elio Fiorucci discovering him, while he was doing his first project, Monterrey shirts, but there’s more than this.
I think it’s about roots, family ties, cultural background, which you inhale since the very first day of your life, without even taking notice of it. His father, Raul Luis Arrieta, left Argentina for Italy, to become a creative director in top advertising campaigns during the Eighties. His mother, Emila Iuric, comes from a family of intellectuals in Trieste and is an antique dealer. They are like black and white to me, night and day, Yin and Yang, both sharing a fierce love for beauty. Emiliano has that same uncompromising sense of harmony, which makes him do Waimea like he does. T-shirts, hoodies, shirts and polos are his core business, completed by a few pants, knits and jackets. Cotton is Emiliano’s favourite material and he’s got a good one, let’s say an old school cotton, which doesn’t lose colour and shape. Then he works on prints he designs himself, just following his instinct.
I saw his stuff in top stores in Tokyo, found it in trendy magazines over there and wondered how comes that cool Japanese buyers selected this funny raging bull.
My answer is simple, because he’s true to himself. Waimea represents Emiliano’s real way of life, free as the Ocean, extreme as the Isle of Man TT motorbycle race, stylish as a vintage chair, creative as a visionary adv. And Japanese fashion conoisseurs have an endless crush on this kind of guys.