A Journey Without a Final Destination with Maurizio Donadi

Guided by instinct and research, Maurizio Donadi has been building his vintage archive for decades. His current project Transnomadica draws primarily from this archive, but each project is unique. Some use it for inspiration, others research, others for personal use.

As part of the Transnomadica project, we are honored to host in our L.A. shop a small curated collection from his archive called Return to Nature, each piece a remnant of outdoor recreation of the '70s and '80s, when the enjoyment of nature was simpler with fewer choices of gear to mediate one's experience with one's world. 

We interviewed Maurizio Donadi about what Transnomadica is to him, how he got there, and why some vintage garments hold power while others do not.

What is Transnomadica?

Transnomadica is a brand that isn’t. More an adhocracy rather than a company. The starting point is an archive of about 15,000 objects (clothing, furniture, books, home decor, accessories, and so on) that serve as a point of inspiration for everything we do for our clients and ourselves. Our small in-house atelier brings fast prototyping and limited-edition product stories to life based on the learning from the archive. It is often total experimentation. Brands come in for inspiration. Companies come in for strategy. Individuals come in to find items that enhance their personal style. The majority of these initiatives are unplanned. Instinct drives everything. That is exactly how life naturally evolves.

The name itself speaks to journey rather than destination, but how has your path led to Transnomadica?

Difficult to explain. It took me many, many years to find what moves me. I am truly enjoying this journey and hope there is no final destination. 


What does the Return to Nature collection represent?

It is a call for action and a romantic title for what I have been researching during the last few years: how nature attracts and changes the way you see and experience our surroundings.

What is it about outdoor gear from the ‘70s and ‘80s that speaks to you?

The simple approach to the outdoors. A very few styles made from the same fabrics, a handful of brands coming from the same place (Boulder, Colorado, that is), vibrant colors faded by the sun. Walking the mountains, not climbing them. No competition, just enjoying nature. All one needed was a mountain jacket, a daily backpack, ordinary pants, a comfortable pair of shoes, a couple of friends to go with you. 


With the excess of clothing we create, have we lost something important/fundamental in our relationship with what we wear?

Generally speaking, we have too many choices on pretty much everything we wear, eat, watch, and ultimately buy. For that, we feel insecure about ourselves. We constantly look for validation and association. We are forced to look like people we are not. That is the power of marketing. What we have really lost is the natural evolution of our own style and the way we critically and independently think. 

We’ve all had that experience of holding two similar vintage garments but feeling a power in one that the other, for seemingly intangible reasons, doesn’t have. Have you been able to formulate what gives some vintage pieces a power others don’t have?

The discovery of a vintage piece for yourself is an event. You will know and feel when you find the perfect piece for you, your mind, your style, your body. It is a rare event. 

So often with upcycling, the project seems to be taking materials from something that exists to create something new. But with your pieces, it’s almost as though you’re continuing a story that’s already been started within the garment itself. How do you approach each piece and that process?

First of all, we honor the original design and fit. We do repair, mend, embellish at times, enhance, make fun of, add color, etc. Rest assured, every piece we work on is different from next. That is the foundation of our product stories. 

Do you have a favorite piece of outdoor gear? If so, what makes it your favorite?

I tend to favor those garments that are the most utilitarian. And everything in the color orange.