Across the Arno River from the bustling, touristy portion of Florence sits the authentic, historical part of the city, housing Livia Quaresmini’s boutique “Hello, Wonderful!” After studying fashion in college, working as a designer and as a buyer, and teaching Fashion Trend Forecasting and Visual Merchandising at the Lorenzo de’ Medici Institute, Livia wanted to develop a brand that was her own. While remaining an active and involved professor at LdM, she additionally partnered with a good friend and opened “Hello, Wonderful!,” a small, fashionable boutique selling hand-designed and handmade products.
All of the clothing sold in the store is handmade by Livia and her partner in Florence. A lot of the pieces are actually produced, from start to finish, in the boutique. The design and sewing station is visible to passersby and shoppers, giving them a glimpse into the uniqueness and artisanal nature of their products. The brand values their transparency and aims to show the customers the distinctive nature of their clothing as soon as they enter the shop.
The process of creating their pieces begins with an idea. Livia and her partner brainstorm the design incorporating their fashion sense and knowledge of trend forecasting. They then embark on Livia’s favorite part of the journey: the fabric hunt, in which she describes herself as “a kid in a candy store.” “Hello, Wonderful!” aims to be as environmentally friendly as possible in the production of their clothing, including the manufacturing of the fabric they use. They mainly use fabrics that have been overproduced by fashion houses or design companies, as to not waste the resources that went into developing those designs. The quality of these materials is the same as it would be had it been purchased from the fashion house initially, but the waste accumulated is far less. Livia also makes a conscious effort to use fabrics that are made in Italy and only use synthetics when absolutely necessary. She believes that the high quality of a fabric made in Italy is noticeable and the natural fibers used ensure comfort and good fit for their customers.
Livia’s career as a Fashion professor at LdM has shaped her experience and goals in owning a boutique. She believes that running the shop has given her advantageous information to share with her students. For example, in her Trend Forecasting class she is able to report what fabrics, styles, and pieces are selling best in the market from her experience selling her own creations. Her students find this valuable and, as a result, are able to relate their theoretical studies to a concrete, successful example. Conversely, Livia is confident that her students help her develop new ideas for the boutique. Asserting that first and foremost her class runs on a team structure, students are comfortable sharing their own ideas from independent trend research and their own inspiration, which can then stimulate new concepts for Livia to experiment with in the store.
The handmade, eco-friendly concept that “Hello, Wonderful!” presents is unique and has amassed great success so far. Livia enjoys sharing her creations with her customers and hopes that she can demonstrate the excellent quality and design of a brand truly “Made in Italy.”
Sabine Abukhadra, a psychology major at Davidson College, is studying in Florence for a semester to pursue her passion for fashion and history. Inspired by Florence’s museums and street fashion, Sabine shares her insights on LdM’s Fashion Blog, and one day hopes to purse a career in the fashion industry. She loves exploring Europe and experiencing new ways of life and style.