Hot off being named Style Curator of the Year at the 2019 Fashion Los Angeles Awards, menswear maverick Ilaria Urbinati is already focusing on her latest project: a new collection! Urbinati teamed up with her Muay Thai coach, Johnny Hunt, on a Muay Thai-themed capsule for Roots of Fight. The Daily caught up with her to get all the details on the line.
How did this collaboration come about?
I’ve been training in Muay Thai for a few years now with Johnny Hunt who is a former world ranked Muay Thai champ. I saw all the dudes at the boxing gym, Fortune Gym, wearing Roots of Fight but didn’t know what it was until I happened to buy a Bruce Lee jacket I loved at Superare [a boxing retailer].
The next day I wore it to set with my client Dwayne Johnson and he was like, “Oh those are my buddies, I’ll introduce you.” His agent Brad Slater at WME put us in touch and then I pretty much forced them to let me design a collab. So we really met the old school Hollywood way! Jesse at ROF had the idea to focus on a Muay Thai line so I asked Johnny to come on board seeing as he’s the expert and I really wanted it to feel authentic.
How long have you been doing Muay Thai?
About three years now, six days a week. I started out boxing then made the transition to Muay Thai because of Johnny. He has a background in so many martial arts so I get to learn so many different moves that make me feel like a little ninja. I just love that it incorporates hands, elbows, legs, knees, and clinch work. Elbows are as aggressive as it gets, which I love, and of course it’s a great workout. I lost all the baby weight from it — but it’s not box-ercise. To me and to so many, the way Johnny teaches it is an art and a fascination. It changed my entire life. It made me feel strong and disciplined. I will do it for the rest of my life.
What was it like working with Johnny?
Honestly, he pretty much came up with the entire concept. Roots of Fight’s limited edition pieces are all centered around a historic event in sports. Their Rumble in the Jungle jacket is based around the famous Muhammad Ali versus George Foreman fight in Africa. Johnny also came up with the concept of basing it around Boxing Day, which was an event on May 17, 1774 (celebrated in Thailand every year) in which Prisoner Nai Khanom Tom — now considered the Father of Muay Thai — beat nine opponents to win back his freedom.
How did you add fashion elements into a performance wear collection?
Color has always been a big part of what I do as a men’s stylist. We incorporated the colors of the Thai flag for the trims and chose the bright yellow because in Thailand it is a color that represents royalty. It worked out really well because the colors are so cool and stylish together. I made a joke that the colors felt very Gucci, so we added a turquoise printed lining which felt like something you would find inside of a suit. But the sweats seem to be the most beloved by all the guys because they fit like they’ve been tailored and they’re incredibly comfortable.
Will we be seeing it on some of your clients soon?
A lot of my clients and Johnny’s long list of celeb clients have requested all the items so they’ll all be wearing it.
Do you see yourself working on a similar capsule collection for women soon?
I would love to! But the collection is pretty unisex. I have one of each piece and my girl friends have been buying it up as well.
The Roots of Fight x Ilaria Urbinati and Johnny Hunt collection is available online now, and retails from $40 to $350.