Back Label is one of those brands that never shouts. It is soft, subtle and speaks quietly, but in its own unobtrusive way is highly innovative. This Bergamo-based company focuses entirely on luxurious athletic leisurewear and essential basics but it makes them all out of what creative director Amy Perricone calls “nourishing and natural textiles”. At first sight there is nothing particularly striking about their simple tops, trousers and cover-ups. They need to be touched and worn to be truly appreciated.
What makes these pieces different is that Back Label’s founders, husband-and-wife team Amy and Filippo Perricone, are fixated on the idea that the textiles we wear next to our skin should be as beneficial as the lotions we put on our face and body. All Back Label clothing, they decided, should be made from breathable fabrics created without any of the harmful chemicals often used in traditional textile processes.
So they set about sourcing fabrics made from a whole range of natural ingredients. Teams travelled to Burma, Japan, Thailand and India, as well as Switzerland and throughout Italy. The first collection launched five years ago, and today over 30 per cent of its pieces are made using its innovative fabrics (forged from natural ingredients such as milk protein, seaweed and bamboo). The rest is created from what the couple call “kind-to-skin, high-quality ingredients”, such as Egyptian and Japanese cotton, and 100 per cent Cariaggi cashmere (the brand of choice for Loro Piana and many others).
Filippo began his career in textiles in southeast Asia so he was perfectly placed to explore his dream. He’d remembered that in the second world war Italians couldn’t get hold of cotton and so had developed a fibre made from milk protein. Perricone set about reinventing it. The result is a fibre so soft that it is hard to believe it isn’t silk. While the Perricones make it clear that their fabrics don’t have any curative properties, they do have what they call “beneficial” properties. Milk-protein fabric, for instance, is temperature-regulating, has antibacterial elements, a pH balance similar to human skin and fibres containing 18 skin-nourishing amino acids. Fabrics made from the cellulose of seaweed algae also feel amazingly soft and gentle and are said to have skin-nourishing properties; while bamboo cellulose fibre has natural antibacterial ingredients and helps regulate body temperature. The Perricones also developed a fibre made from the cellulose of eucalyptus that is naturally enriched with vitamin E.
While a fundamental part of the brand’s DNA is the fabrics’ natural ingredients, for the wearer what also matters are aesthetics too – here, Amy, a former model and fashion consultant, has brought an elegant, almost Japanese-like minimalism to bear upon the designs.
There are three collections – Lounge, Athletic and Resort, and it is the Lounge range that showcases Back Label’s most innovative fabrics, including a draped top (€109) made from the milk-protein fibre, a jumpsuit (€185) created from seaweed cellulose and a slip dress (€99) combining the cellulose of the bamboo tree and silk. The Athletic range (Egyptian extra-breathable performance cotton, Japanese and Sea Island cotton) includes cropped leggings (€154), a light sweat dress (€244) and a hoodie top (€224). Fans particularly love the Resort collection’s Nirvana long cardigan (€819), made from Cariaggi cashmere and silk, and the Cariaggi Jaipur cashmere and silk poncho (€575). And for men, a capsule collection – including hoodies (€194), polo shirts (€109) and shorts (€148) – was launched on September 1. These are the kind of understated basics that every wardrobe needs. Clothing that is derived from natural products with the added bonus that they are kind to the skin.
Handcrafted by its highly skilled team of seamstresses and cutters, Back Label’s designs are available online at backlabel.com. The collections can also be found in many spas and resorts, such as Gstaad’s The Alpina, Brown’s Hotel in London, Four Seasons spas and, in Sicily, there is a standalone boutique at Rocco Forte Verdura Resort.