April 22, 2024

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“These 40 pieces, one for each year, are only part of the material. We have saved a lot, because I hope to do another exhibition to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the brand”, says Manuel Roberto Mariño (Verín, Ourense, 77 years old). 40 photographs and the reinterpretations of various students from the IED design school make up the sample 40+1, an itinerant exhibition that lands in Madrid, at the Fernán Gómez Cultural Center of the Villa (from March 17 to April 9), to celebrate the first four decades of his firm, Roberto Verino. Before he was in Verín (Orense), Burgos or Santiago and later he will leave for Valencia, Santander, Bilbao, Seville and Barcelona. Images that review the path of the banner since 1982, reflected in portraits of models such as Christy Turlington, Olatz, Helena Christensen or Nieves Álvarez, photographed by names such as Eloy Lozano, Paco Navarro or Jacques Olivar.

A review of the legacy that requires stopping to reflect, something that Mariño does with the enthusiasm of the first day: “I am not going to leave this job. He will leave me, but because I go feet first ”, he sentenced during the interview with EL PAÍS. He declares himself in love with his work: “I like what I do, therefore, I don’t mind doing it again and again, because I understand that it is the minimum that I have to demand of myself. I can consider myself a lucky person.” Contrary to the sector, his proposals have always sought to remain in the wardrobe in the long term, with timeless designs, good cuts and quality materials. “More than the trend, I have always looked for functionality. That consumers feel good, which I think is something that must be valued; support them on a day-to-day basis so that they are a little happier when the mirror reflects the image they want to convey. Because following trends obsessively, in my opinion, is a mistake. Terrible both for those who follow them and for those who impose them, because you make people never be happy with themselves.

One of the images from the '40+1' exhibition: the model Cordula Reyer, photographed by Mikael Jansson for Roberto Verino.
One of the images from the ’40+1′ exhibition: the model Cordula Reyer, photographed by Mikael Jansson for Roberto Verino.

An approach that, together with his determination to produce locally, has earned him good discussions over the years with those responsible for finance. Because when the competition relocated production to lower costs, Verino wanted to continue manufacturing in the area. That had been the goal that prompted her to open his own company, after having worked in Paris. “Crazy” has been the nicest thing that they have called me, but that was my stubbornness. Develop this in my environment, so that the people of the Monterrei Valley would not have to go to work if possible. If it had developed all this in another more favorable context, surely it would have grown more. But what excited me was to create employment where my family lived”.

Growing for the sake of growing has never been among his priorities: “Things that are worthwhile are not measured in money. Is it against my interests? Well, it depends. Only if you think that my interests are the economic results. Obviously, they are important, this is a company, but I have always wanted people to value me and love me, more than leaving me money in the box. I have never thought that this was the first thing, but a consequence of doing the job well. Because I don’t intend to dress the vast majority either, but to offer the best I can each season, pieces that add to those that the consumer already has”. Give shape to a concept that the creative has dubbed the “emotional wardrobe”, a collection of pieces that last over time and that speak of moments and memories. Timelessness, closeness or making the consumer fall in love: concepts in vogue in the industry today, but tremendously anachronistic four decades ago.

Roberto Verino celebrates the first 40 years of the brand with the traveling exhibition '40+1', which lands in Madrid next Friday, March 17.
Roberto Verino celebrates the first 40 years of the brand with the traveling exhibition ’40+1′, which lands in Madrid next Friday, March 17.samuel sanchez

His has not been an individual success, as almost none are, but, unlike the usual, Verino insists on pointing it out in each of his responses. He shares it with the more than 400 direct employees of his (1,400, adding to the usual collaborators): “They are fully committed and excited teams. This is a gear that works because everything is lubricated and without the teams I would be nothing, I would be a little thing”. Perhaps Roberto Mariño will not be there for the celebration of the next 40 years, but the banner will be there, he predicts: “I will die, like everyone else, because otherwise we would not enter here, but for that reason the important thing is the team and the brand, which It will continue because it is a beloved brand, with an authentic and resounding discourse”.

It has not been an easy year for the designer. Last July, her daughter Cristina Mariño died at the age of 52, called to continue with the business: “My daughter Cristina was in charge of communication and marketing and Dora (Casal, executive director), from management. There was a trilogy and I only had to take care of the design, but now we have divided Cristina’s task”. She looks at him smiling all the time from an image on her mobile phone: “It helps me understand that I can’t stay with regrets. She is with me, encouraging me not to give up and to multiply if necessary”. He does it intensely: “The important thing is to enjoy what you do and I am happy doing my job because I understand that I make many people happy and they thank me by being faithful every season. From my first clients, and now their daughters or their granddaughters”.

"The financiers have always been the most critical of the decisions I have made.  They were the ones who called me crazy"says the designer.
“The financiers have always been the most critical of the decisions I’ve made. They were the ones who called me crazy,” says the designer.samuel sanchez

The client is his king and he told Felipe VI himself in a meeting in Oviedo. “It was in one of those conversations that come out, that they put it on a platter”, he jokes, “but it’s true, I owe all my loyalty and all my effort to the client. And I’m not content with that because I’m not tight-fisted or conformist”. Perhaps this explains, in part, the great fidelity they offer him. “Now I look back and 40 years is a breath. But you also realize the effort we have made, the illusion we have had, the energy. About how important it was to set up a textile company in a rural environment, without any industrial or fashion tradition. It is the triumph of the will. And now you see all that reflected and you say: ‘Wow, how beautiful!’. What wonderful memories and what magic. Because in the long run one remembers above all the good things”.

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