A touch of Italy has landed in the middle of Southern California.
Davide Baroncini is opening a new store in the affluent town of San Marino, Calif., right next door to Pasadena, to showcase his Ghiaia Cashmere menswear collection designed in California and produced in Italy.
Baroncini, standing in the middle of the quaint space housed inside a historic 1920s building, points to the unique features that make up his new outpost, which opens on Monday.
Workers have spent more than a month restoring the worn terracotta floor. On one side of the former antiques store is a marble-topped fireplace accented on either side with two chairs. In the middle of the room is a 1930s wood and glass display case originally housed at a Chicago retailer. There is a cozy corner where customers can sit and drink coffee made from a sophisticated cappuccino machine. And in the back is a patio with a gurgling fountain where lunch or dinner can be prepared for special occasions using two stoves off to one side. “It’s a social haven,” Baroncini said.
Baroncini has strong Italian roots. He grew up in Sicily and worked for vaunted Italian designer Brunello Cucinelli in wholesale and retail visual product knowledge. He moved to Southern California several years ago where his wife, Pia, grew up and is firmly entrenched here.
In the beginning, the couple lived in a small apartment in Venice, the Los Angeles seaside neighborhood that has its own set of canals, which got the Italian creator thinking about starting his own line. With his wife’s help, it launched four years ago.
At first the offerings for his label, named for the rounded beach stones near his Sicilian home, were basic. It was a modest selection of cashmere crewneck sweaters. Over time the collection expanded to cotton because cotton is more popular and practical in Southern California. The clothing went from cashmere sweaters to cotton sweaters, cotton pleated pants, work shirts, button-down shirts, swim shorts, blazers and shoes.
Shortly after starting his brand, Baroncini opened his first store in 2020 in the Burlington Arcade in Pasadena. It was a speck of a space at only 340 square feet, but it got his brand’s name out there, helping it to become carried by e-commerce sites including Mr Porter, Matches and Fwrd.
Then an antiques store shuttered at 2557 Mission Street in San Marino, an idyllic place that captured Baroncini’s appreciation of beauty and old-world charm. He lovingly describes the light that filters through the beautiful trees where there is a small-town atmosphere in a neighborhood where the median house price is $3.9 million. “It looks like a movie. It’s magical,” the Italian native said.
Baroncini travels back and forth to Italy to oversee the clothing line’s production, which uses cashmere yarns sourced from Cariaggi, a decades-old yarn supplier in Italy’s Marche region. All the cotton yarn comes from Italy, too. The line he creates exudes quiet luxury with casual styles at home in California or in an Italian village.
Even though the brand’s name has the word “cashmere” in its title, about 50 percent of production these days offers cotton when trousers, shirts and accessories are factored in. There are cashmere joggers for $1,055, cashmere sweaters for $795, cotton work shirts for $490, cotton knit polos for $695 and pleated pants for $595.
“Everything is Made in Italy,” Baroncini said proudly. “People like to buy quality garments, and we humbly try to do that.”