This feature appears in V141 Spring 2023 issue now available for purchase 

When United Colors of Benetton appointed their new Creative Director last year, their choice might have come as a surprise. Andrea Incontri entered the world of design through architecture, which he studied at Milan Polytechnic University and pursued before broadening his scope into storytelling with humans and what they wear rather than buildings. Now more than ever, the storied athleisure arbiter is focusing on its customers as protagonists, with collections that are driven by human empathy and an overall joie de vivre.

The Burns-Nakashimas wear all clothing UNITED COLORS OF BENETTON
“The most rewarding part about being a father is having two daughters who are so loving. Watching them grow, change, [and] navigate this world is such a gift. I look forward to each day. I am very fortunate to have a career that allows me to spend more time with my family than without.”
—Ryan Burns

His Spring/Summer 2023 collection encapsulates this bright and joyous spirit through playful fruit patterns, industry-leading knitwear (a Benetton staple), denim and leather goods, and of course, a dazzling array of colors to brighten up your wardrobe—all while maintaining a sense of “normality,” something Incontri believes to be incredibly chic in a moment when most brands are trying to grab attention by being as “out there” as possible.

A family brand since its inception, Incontri was familiar with Benetton’s values even as a child, inspiring him to double down on the importance of family with a collection for men, women, and children. To celebrate the fruits of Incontri’s creativity, V photographed some of our favorite families wearing his creations, and also spoke with the Creative Director about his path, philosophy, and approach to democratic fashion for all.

The Bucklers wear all clothing UNITED COLORS OF BENETTON
“My background is Korean, and in our culture, we have this word: jeong. It means affection [but] doesn’t quite fully translate in English. I consider myself to be quite affectionate, I go out of my way to help others. As a mother to two boys with my husband Andrew, family means everything to me.”
—Syliva Buckler

V MAGAZINE: Can you describe your personal relationship with United Colors of Benetton before you began working with them? Obviously, it is a household name type of brand.

ANDREA INCONTRI: So I’ve known this brand since I was born, because it’s a family brand. I always knew what was happening inside the world of Benetton. I remember my mother when I was younger, we would go together in the stores, and I just remember the colors—a lot of colors, and maybe the feeling, the soul of it being something playful and very easy to wear. So this is my first memory of Benetton.

V: How would you describe Benetton’s approach?

AI: The approach with the luxury brand is to just have beautiful material at a high level of quality, starting in 1965 with the knitwear. The brand’s big skill is the knitwear, for men, women, kids, and also the home collection. So there is a big world around this; it’s a cultural thing. It’s not fast fashion. It’s a democratic brand.

The Webster-Brockingtons wear all clothing UNITED COLORS OF BENETTON
“It’s an honor to share my work with my husband and children. What a joy! I’m extremely grateful that my children get to see what a positive and respectful environment looks like, and why it’s important to love what you do. Love your work and then it’s not ‘work’—that’s always been my mantra.”
—Isaac Webster

V: As you said, Benetton is very much a family brand. I’m wondering if you were inspired to pursue architecture or design by your own family, or was this just a unique interest that you deve- loped independent of them?

AI: It’s strange, my story, because I grew up in Mantua, this small city, and I knew very well what was happening inside the tailoring world because my grandfather on my mother’s side was a tailor. So I learned about the dedication to the quality of the material, the shapes, the purpose, and the logistics. And then architecture was my first passion. And the keywords are method, discipline, organization, and then strategy. So this space is so important. In my vision, the Benetton products are like small pieces of architecture. So a bag, a beautiful sweater, pants, a skirt, for me, it’s just one thing in high-definition level inside the same guardrails. In my mind, I don’t have seasons for products. I have an evolution of the products. Because when you buy a chair or table, you don’t change it after six months. You have the table for life, or for many years. And this is so important for the responsible approach to creating products.

The Clems wear all clothing UNITED COLORS OF BENETTON
“Benetton’s presence unified these precious moments with our loved ones. My two-year-old dog Prince is no stranger to the camera—his high energy and personality are contagious. Prince has a way of grounding me and bringing moments of joy every day. We are bonded forever and I will cherish this portrait of us.”
—Hunter Clem

V: When you were studying architecture, did you ever think that this would be a path you would eventually take into design?

AI: I did not think that this is what would happen after studying architecture when I was younger. But I’m a curious person. I’m a fashion designer now, okay. But I’m a designer. So I like to work with different things with my hands, and not just one thing. So designer is just one title.

V: You’ve said before that nothing is more interesting than normality. Why do you believe that?

The Harpazes wear all clothing UNITED COLORS OF BENETTON
“Love is the foundation to our security, it’s the safety net of support that allows failures on the road to success. It’s a word often overused and under-delivered. I keep things simple—I do what I love with people I love and come home to those I love most. It takes work to maintain it all.”
—Gal Harpaz

AI: So strange things attach more headlines, I think. The digital media, there’s always so much news, like TikTok, and it’s like an overdose. The more something is strange, the more something is interesting. But it’s almost a big void; you’re holding nothing in your hands. But for me, normality is really sexy. Normality is very special because it’s more of a strong approach to life. And it’s all an education about normality. Normality is more human; it’s about empathy. It’s authentic. We need this value right now, I think. It’s so important.

V: When you began working with Benetton, which obviously has such an established heritage and DNA, how do you balance staying respectful of that while also pushing the brand forward as you see best?

The Santana-Carrigans wear all clothing UNITED COLORS OF BENETTON
“Family are the people you can be your whole self with, without having to be nervous that you will be misunderstood. My friends are my family—once I love you, you can’t really leave me. Sorry! I’m very selective about my friends and family, my circle is small but I like that.”
—Stella Santana

AI: So I don’t like to work a lot in the past, for me both in my personal life and work life, but the knowledge is so important when it comes to the brand’s past. However the world is starting to change, so we need to work on a new chapter and with a new message. Or it could be the same message from a new point of view, because Benetton was always inclusive, colorful, and so many other great things.

V: What types of creatives are you very inspired by right now and again?

AI: So, our next collaboration in the future I hope, will be with an ambassador for Benetton. In my mind, I’m not in front of the project, and each person, each artist, has a beautiful story to share with Benetton and also with the people. So I think it’s important to work with them, these special people with beautiful stories.

The Carloses wear all clothing UNITED COLORS OF BENETTON
“I call modeling a sport because it takes the same elements of hard work, perseverance, learning on the go, being coachable, and able to apply direction immediately. My transition from football to modeling and entertainment was smooth. I was able to apply these same principles to a new field of endeavor and passion.”
—Keith Carlos

This feature appears in V141 Spring 2023 issue: now available for purchase 

Photography Matthew Brookes

Fashion Nicola Formichetti

Makeup Sarah Tanno (Forward Artists) for Haus Labs

Hair Peter Gray (Home Agency)

Models Ryan Burns and family (Ford), Stella Santana and family (Fusion Models), Hunter Clem and Prince, Sylvia Buckler and family (Storm Management),
Gal Harpaz and son, Isaac Webster and family (Next), Keith Carlos and family (Ford)

Set teacher Jill Gann

Executive producer Johnny Pascucci (Photobomb)

Senior producer Sara Bielecki (Photobomb)

Production coordinator Vicente Luna, Merry Nestor

Digital technician Daniel Kim

Photo assistants Gal Harpaz, Benny Haber, Theo Harpaz

Stylist assistant Genesis Webb

Hair assistant Audrey Jonsdottir

Manicure assistant Armando Kole

Location Smashbox Studios Lightbox

Discover More