Giorgio Armani fine-tunes brand portfolio and plans for the future
Giorgio Armani's new strategy is taking shape, after the restructuring of its labels’ portfolio announced at the last Milan Fashion Week. The Italian fashion group has explained how starting in the Spring/Summer 2018 season, its range will be concentrated in three distinct segments for three different target markets, making it easier for consumers to understand the label's product range.
Giorgio Armani will henceforth be organized into three brand divisions. The house's primary Giorgio Armani line will cover the label's luxury collections, namely the Armani Privé haute couture collection and the Armani/Casa design and interiors line. The Emporio Armani label includes the very classic Armani Collezioni line and will absorb the Armani Jeans name, the casual label targeting a younger clientele. Finally the third segment will run under the more commercial A/X Armani Exchange name, which features a young, urban style, which has been strategically repositioned.
The menswear and womenswear label, launched by Giorgio Armani in 1991, was originally regarded as a fast-fashion label, and until recently was exclusively distributed on the American and Asian markets. The group now no longer describes Armani Exchange as "fast-fashion" but as "young and accessible," and has started to deploy it in Europe, with a redesigned product range.
Formerly the group's less expensive label in terms of prices, and consisting originally of tee-shirts, jeans and polos, Armani Exchange has evolved over the years and developed "from a basic range to a fuller contemporary collection – leather jackets just so, super smooth tee-shirts and everyday denim – in order to keep pace with the evolution of the young generation’s attitudes worldwide," wrote the group in the label's brand literature.
"Since 2015 A/X Armani Exchange has gone a step further, capturing the mood and inventiveness of young urban creatives, and combining it with an Italian design aesthetic and an intuitive, democratic approach to style," said the group.
In order to better calibrate the label's repositioning, in 2014 Giorgio Armani regained full control of A/X Armani Exchange, which previously was managed in joint-venture with other partners who supervised its production and distribution under licence. This allowed the Italian fashion group to revise not just the label's products but also its distribution network, and Armani/Exchange has now expanded across Europe, starting from the UK and moving on to Portugal, the Netherlands, Belgium and France, where it opened its first store last December in Marseilles. The group indicated that the European expansion will be chiefly pursued through a franchising formula.
The Giorgio Armani Foundation
Simultaneously, the outlines of the purpose of the Giorgio Armani Foundation are emerging, which appears to be an effort to ensure the group's continuity. Last July the Italian couturier announced his intention of creating the foundation, and for the first time gave some clues about his succession at the helm of the group.
Giorgio Armani is still actively engaged in the business, and has never clearly indicated who his successor may be, but at the time he stated that the foundation "would safeguard the governance of the Armani group's assets and ensure their perpetuity, in-keeping with the principles which are particularly important to [him]."
According to Italian financial newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore, the foundation has since been created. It was set up at the end of 2016 by Giorgio Armani himself, and endowed with 0.1% of the group's capital, equivalent to €10 million, plus another €200,000, of which €40,000 are reserved for a guarantee fund.
The foundation's financial resources are likely to be bolstered by further grants from the couturier, "also in the form of legacies," wrote the Milan newspaper, which gained access to the Foundation's incorporation documents. This clearly suggests that the Foundation will have the possibility one day of regaining control of the Italian fashion group.
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