We interviewed designer Massimo Rossetti recently at menswear retailer Harry Rosen. Meeting at Harry Rosen’s Bloor Street location in downtown Toronto, the weather was mild considering what we had come to talk about; winter coats.
Specifically, Massimo’s PARAJUMPERS brand, a collection which has grown over the years to include an array of mens and womens winter coats. The brand has also attracted it’s share of devoted fans.
When we arrived for the interview, we were introduced to Massimo and his family. Massimo is an energetic man, stark white hair and carries a thick Italian accent, which only adds to his charm. He is just finishing a conversation with his wife when we arrive. His young daughter is playing around the store’s menswear displays. While walking over to the collection of coats, Massimo informs us “Two things you need to know. One, I have an accent and two, I am an old man.” The latter he says with a cheerful smile.
While taking us through his Parajumpers collection, any notion of ‘old man’ has faded. He is energetic and explains his brand with enthusiasm and passion. The inspiration behind the innovative line was the extreme Alaskan rescuers, “They are the PJs – short for PARAJUMPERS. Tough and courageous, they are better trained than any other military corps, but most important, they use their skills and techniques to save lives.” says Rosetti.
From every jacket we talked about, to every jacket we tried on, we were thrilled with the high quality and detail: hidden zippers, removable collars, removable linings, tough snaps, hidden pockets built to hold tablets, premium down fill. These coats are made for cold, tough weather.
Functionality aside, the coats also look good.
“It’s important,” Massimo says as he adjusts the hood of the Gobi Bomber Parker we are trying on. “You want to look good.”
Aesthetically pleasing design is something Massimo has experience with. He has made a substantial contribution to the development and spread of sportswear fashion in Italy and around the globe. He has designed sportswear collections for the most famous Italian brands such as Valentino, Canali, and Adriano Goldschmied…to name a few. He’s criss-crossed North America hundreds of times over the last 35 years by motor bike, Greyhound bus, car, train, plane, and some wild rides while hitch hiking in the legendary trucks. During these travels he learned to understand North America’s clothing styles for work, leisure, sport and, particularly, the military.
After talking about the brand, the conversation turned to our pastimes and how we spend our downtime.
“My boat,” Massimo turns around and pulls the top of his collared shirt past his shoulders, revealing a t-shirt underneath with a picture of a sailboat set in a picturesque sunset scene. He continues “That’s my boat. I love to sail and when I’m too old for this,” he motions to the coats, “I will sail around wherever the weather is hot.”
“Crazy dream for somebody who makes winter coats,” he says with a laugh.