With their signature big and strong eyes, the charming characters of FashiontoManga are not on a regular quest. It's not about defying evil around the city, but about being models for big brands or cool representations of celebrities.
Giovanni Valenti is the creative mind behind the brand, which uses the traditional Japanese cartoon style to create fashion illustrations. By using perfect representations of iconic pieces from well-known brands and applying cartoon style to illustrate fashion icons, FashiontoManga plays with our imagination. It's interesting to see such up-to-date trends through the lenses of our childhood memories.
Hello Giovanni, when was Fashion to Manga born?
A little more than a year ago, I started drawing on my iPad again after years. These drawings were always anime or illustrations inspired by the world of fashion alternatively. So I tried to combine them and, with the first lockdown, I opened up the instagram page FashionToManga, drawing only complete looks at first and then creating different segments: celebrities, puppies and accessories. Little by little, among many reposts of famous people on the Italian scene, such as Fedez, Anna dello Russo and Mahmood, I started receiving the first collaboration proposals, ranging from food, like the campaign I made for Pop Cafè, to fashion, like the lookbook of Alesssandro Enriquez’s 2021 Fall-Winter collection that I worked on, among many other collaborations.
Manga is a typical Japanese style of illustration, how did you come across it?
I grew up during the Nineties, accompanied by Sailor Moon and many other anime on TV. It suffices to say that I made myself a kimono as a child and I used skewer sticks as chopsticks. As an adolescent, I used to read dozens of manga and magazines on anime. My love towards Japan grew stronger and stronger with every volume I read and I found myself drawing sketches. This passion of mine kept on growing from there, until it took shape when I was finally able to visit the country on vacation for a month. Wandering around the streets of Tokyo, I noticed that anime and manga are often used for advertising. This is what inspired the project FashionToManga, which in Japanese literally means Fashion and Cartoons.
What inspires you about the Japanese culture?
It’s hard not to be inspired by Japan: a combination of centuries-old traditions and modernity, a magical atmosphere among the streets, where you can go from a road full of people, music and lights to a shintoist temple on a staircase right out of a Miyazaki movie in a split second. Japan is a country that deeply cares about precision, but at the same time its roads are very chaotic, among crammed shops and electrical cables everywhere. It feels like it’s done on purpose, that everything is studied in order for it to be armonic. I get lost in the atmospheres of their legends and traditions, deeply rooted in the culture still today, in this futuristic world we live in. And, above all, there’s a manner, a ritual for everything. This absolutely blows my mind.
When was your passion for fashion born?
My love for fashion started when I was around 15/16, in the midst of my teenage years, when you always think you’re a bit ugly. Back then, I finally realized how much the right outfit made a difference (at least on me). Hence, I started to look at clothes as something more than pieces of fabric that cover you up. I've been a dancer and dance teacher for years, but my passion for fashion has always been there. So, one summer I decided to look for an internship as an assistant stylist in Milan: after stalking (literally) various stylists, flooding them with emails of self applications, Ramona Tabita offered me the chance to work with her. It was at that moment that I realized how strong my love for fashion was and, back in Palermo, I resigned from my old job and permanently moved to Milan. For me, fashion (the real one, the properly done one) is art. Nothing more, nothing less.
Your work in FashiontoManga is mainly inspired by great fashion brands. Can you tell us something about this creative process?
My creative process is pretty smooth and fast. I do a lot of digging on references and designers, also looking up not-so-famous designers. I start from the garment and then choose the character that fits it the most; my personal taste clearly affects a lot both the clothing and character choice. The use of 90’s anime is indeed quite noticeable. And lastly, once the illustrations are finished, I look for the right background. It's all an instinctive process. I find inspiration in old Japanese ads as well as in today’s pop culture. Let’s just say that when I see something that inspires me, the drawing comes out automatically even at the oddest hours. Usually I'm more productive at night time.
You've done some really nice work until this moment, what can we expect as the next step for Fashion to Manga?
Soon, FashionToManga will be on printed paper too, I won’t say how, but I assure you that you’ll be seeing something new. There are many projects in the pipeline, but what I'd like to do with FashionToManga the most is a nice collaboration with some brands, possibly designing prints. I wouldn't mind packaging in FashionToManga style either: during my year of specialisation in visual merchandising at IED (European Institution of Design) in Milan, I got passionate about it and learned how to create new packaging and I would love to do it with my project. Or maybe will I end up creating my own brand? Who knows.
FashiontoManga was born as a combination of passions, the one for fashion and the one for Japanese anime, which led Giovanni to create colorful and authentic illustrations. It's a pleasure to go through his creations and automatically create stories in our mind, it's a fun exercise and we cannot say otherwise.
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