Francesco Ragazzi, the founder and creative director of Palm Angels, is making waves in the fashion industry with his ambitious brand. This week, New Guards, the parent company of Palm Angels, launched its own eyewear division under Ragazzi’s leadership. The Palm Angels eyewear collection, debuting with two frames, marks the opening of a new business unit at New Guards. Unlike many other brands, Palm Angels will develop and produce its eyewear internally, without the need for a licensing agreement.

The new Palm Angels sunglasses perfectly embody the brand’s aesthetic, featuring stylish geometric shapes and acetate frames adorned with a metallic Palm Angels logo. To celebrate the launch, Palm Angels joined forces with renowned photographer David Sims for a captivating video and photo campaign. The eyewear will be available for purchase on the Palm Angels website, as well as in select boutiques and opticians around the world.

Francesco Ragazzi initially gained recognition in the fashion industry back in 2014 with the release of a photo essay book on California skaters, featuring a foreword by Pharrell Williams. Since then, Ragazzi has established partnerships with major brands like Under Armour and Setai. We had the privilege of speaking with Francesco Ragazzi about the new eyewear collection and his plans for expanding Palm Angels on a global scale.

When asked about his journey to becoming a designer, Ragazzi humbly stated that he always saw himself as an artistic director rather than a traditional designer. He initially pursued his passion for fashion photography and had the opportunity to work with Moncler 15 years ago. During his time there, Ragazzi played a significant role in building the brand and injecting fresh ideas and excitement into the company. However, he eventually felt the need to venture out on his own and channel the essence of skate culture through his photography, much like what renowned artists had done for surf culture.

The name “Palm Angels” was inspired by the skaters in Los Angeles who effortlessly glided beneath palm trees, appearing as if they were angels in flight. Ragazzi aimed to capture the elegance and freedom embodied by these skaters in his brand. Reflecting on his time at Moncler, Ragazzi expressed gratitude for the opportunity to contribute to the brand’s transformation into a global luxury powerhouse. In 2019, he made the difficult decision to leave Moncler to fully focus on Palm Angels, as he felt it was impossible to devote his full attention to both brands.

Ragazzi also delved into Palm Angels’ involvement in the Moncler Genius project, which enabled him to present his unique perspective and context within the fashion industry. He emphasized the importance of offering a fresh twist on something familiar, which is evident in his approach to skateboarding culture.

The collaboration with New Guards began in 2015, following the release of the Palm Angels book. New Guards, the company behind brands like Off-White, recognized the immense potential in Palm Angels and decided to partner with Ragazzi. Even after Farfetch acquired control of New Guards, Ragazzi clarified that they still maintain a partnership, with him owning a portion of the brand and New Guards holding a license. Ragazzi expressed his appreciation for working with a large, non-fashion company like Under Armour, where he had the opportunity to explore different technologies and languages within the industry.

Ragazzi’s ongoing collaboration with Setai in Miami aligns perfectly with Palm Angels’ focus on lifestyle and entertainment. He envisions the brand expanding into ventures such as hotel-keeping that embody the essence of the Palm Angels lifestyle. Ragazzi has always valued collaboration and frequently works with various talents to achieve his vision. For instance, his friendship with Pharrell Williams, fostered during his time at Moncler, led to their partnership on the Palm Angels book.

When asked about the decision to create an eyewear collection, Ragazzi explained that it perfectly aligns with Palm Angels’ DNA. The brand’s origins in California and its association with the sun and sunglasses make eyewear an integral part of their identity. He emphasized that the collection was developed internally, without any licensing agreements, which showcases Palm Angels’ dedication to maintaining control over their brand.

Ragazzi highlighted that 2021 is a significant year for Palm Angels, as they have plans to open multiple stores, including one in Miami’s Design District in July, and expand to other locations in the United States and Europe. The eyewear collection will be available in approximately 100 top eyewear specialists worldwide, with prices ranging between 200 and 300 euros.

When asked to define the DNA of Palm Angels, Ragazzi described it as a re-interpretation of American culture through his Italian perspective. He draws inspiration from artists like Ralph Lauren, who exemplify the concept of lifestyle, and respects Prada for their integrity and business prowess. Ragazzi also finds fascination in how certain brands translate their identity into their boutiques, citing Valentino and Jacopo Venturini as examples.

Looking towards the future, Ragazzi expressed his desire to continue releasing books alongside each collection, as he finds joy in the tangible nature of books compared to purely digital collections. While he hopes to have a physical show in Milan in February or March, the uncertainty surrounding the current global situation presents challenges in planning.

Francesco Ragazzi’s passion for photography and his unique perspective on skate and American culture have propelled Palm Angels to great success. With the launch of their new eyewear collection and plans for expansion, Palm Angels is poised to make an even greater impact on the fashion industry in the years to come.

Useful Links:
1. Palm Angels Official Website
2. New Guards Group Official Website