Hi, Anthony, can you introduce yourself?
I am an Englishman who has lived for a long time in Paris, although I now live in Dublin, Ireland. My first steps into hat making were in 1987, in conjunction with Marie Mercié, whose brand we launched together. It was just at the moment when hats were taking off again, and was really exciting because people were coming from all over to see what hats they could find in Paris, especially the American department stores like Barneys, Bergdorf Goodman and Nieman Marcus. So success arrived almost immediately.
Can you describe the universe of your fashionable headwear brand?
Anthony Peto hats began in 1992. I wanted to offer something that was not easy to find at the time: fashionable headwear for men. I liked to play with traditional shapes like bowlers and top hats and make them more contemporary. Now that the fashion is well established, my challenge is pushing the boundaries: getting men to want to wear shapes and colours that they would never have thought were for them.
Do you travel a lot to grow your business?
I travel all the time, between Paris where the hats are made, Dublin where I live and also have a shop, the UK, my place of birth, and Brussels where my mother lives. Also Italy and the United States where we show at professional trade fairs.
We show twice a year at Pitti Uomo in Florence, at White in Milan, at Liberty in Las Vegas and from time to time in New York, not to mention Paris itself, which is the most important location. We also have an agent with a showroom in Milan, which is important if you want to succeed Italy.
What do you love about travelling?
Travelling helps me appreciate how tastes and habits vary. Italy is the polar opposite of the United States in terms of hat wearing: the one full of life and colour, the other preferring sombre tones and avoiding anything that stands out. It is also important because if you keep your eyes open you can find materials for hat making that would not be found in Paris.
What’s your favourite city for doing business?
My favourite city is certainly Florence, not only for its jaw dropping beauty but also for the everyday dandyism that replenishes the creative juices and gives moral encouragement to anyone in this profession. My favourite Florentine restaurant is called La Menagère, although I would prefer if it was kept a secret.
Do you have any funny business trip memories to tell us?
In Las Vegas there is no shortage of ways to relax in the evenings, from parties to restaurants and shows. David Copperfield managed to make me disappear on stage, a trick I always try to remember whenever we have awkward customers on our booth.