A millennial starting a cardigan brand? It seems almost paradoxical, but the designers Julian Taffel, 27, and Paolina Leccese, 28, have cracked the code. “Our generation is overwhelmed with choices,” says Taffel over a cappuccino at Bar Pisellino, in New York, where we meet to discuss Leorosa, the knitwear line he started earlier this year alongside Leccese. “The idea of quality and simplicity used to be mainstream, and has become novel.” It’s this new climate of fast fashion and an overabundance of options that inspired Taffel and Leccese to fill what they see as a growing gap—“We can never find any cool, simple essentials, except in vintage shops,” notes Leccese—with the essential modern item.
A common aesthetic, plus their international backgrounds—Leccese is German-Italian and grew up in Cologne, while Taffel is Japanese-American and grew up in New York—helped the pair, who met at Parsons School of Design in 2013, to come up with a take that is both nostalgic and current. Taffel says, “We want what our parents had—a place people can come back to in 30 or 40 years with their kids, and they’ll still be selling the same things.” All of the sweaters are made in Tuscany by local Florentine knitters Leccese and Taffel have met with personally.