As­pesi Is Mak­ing a Come­back

The brand, which marks its 50th an­niver­sary this year, is go­ing to open a new flag­ship in Mi­lan at the end of the month.

WWD Digital Daily - - News - BY ALESSAN­DRA TURRA

As­pesi is back on track.

Two years af­ter its ac­qui­si­tion by Ital­ian fund Ar­mò­nia, the Ital­ian la­bel, which cel­e­brates its 50th an­niver­sary in 2019, is mak­ing a come­back on the in­ter­na­tional scene thanks to a ma­jor re­or­ga­ni­za­tion led by chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Fabio Gnocchi.

A leg­endary brand that epit­o­mizes so­phis­ti­cated Mi­lanese style, As­pesi was founded by fash­ion en­tre­pre­neur Al­berto As­pesi in 1969. Sev­eral pres­ti­gious de­sign­ers, in­clud­ing Wal­ter Al­bini, Franco Moschino and most re­cently Lawrence Steel, helped the brand es­tab­lish an aes­thetic of high­qual­ity, wear­able pieces with a re­fined color sen­si­bil­ity and min­i­mal chic de­sign.

“Af­ter [many] glorious years, the im­age of the brand got a tad stuck so we re­or­ga­nized all the dif­fer­ent ar­eas of the com­pany to make it more ef­fi­cient,” said Gnocchi, who was pre­vi­ously com­mer­cial di­rec­tor at Brunello Cucinelli. In par­tic­u­lar, he said the com­pany re­struc­tured the de­sign team, pro­mot­ing two As­pesi de­sign vet­er­ans to over­see the men's and women's teams, re­spec­tively. “They know the com­pany per­fectly, can be loyal to the brand's DNA and work to­gether to keep the col­lec­tions co­her­ent,” Gnocchi said. “At the same time, they are as­sisted by a mer­chan­diser, a fig­ure who is be­com­ing more and more im­por­tant to de­liver the right prod­ucts at the right time.”

Ac­cord­ing to Gnocchi, As­pesi will con­tinue to be loyal to its aes­thetic. “We are work­ing to make our no-logo phi­los­o­phy our logo,” he said. “We are cre­at­ing col­lec­tions or­ga­nized in dif­fer­ent groups with a great at­ten­tion to col­ors — and the re­ac­tion of the clients has been ex­tremely pos­i­tive.”

The com­pany, which closed 2017 with

44.5 mil­lion eu­ros in sales, posted 17 per­cent growth in spring 2019 orders com­pared to the same sea­son the pre­vi­ous year.

“We are grow­ing in all the dif­fer­ent mar­kets,” said Gnocchi, re­veal­ing that the com­pany is re­vis­ing its dis­tri­bu­tion, es­pe­cially in Italy, where it “was avail­able in too many small stores. We ac­tu­ally man­aged to make a come­back in those high-end bou­tiques, which can dis­play our prod­ucts next to lux­ury fash­ion lines.”

In or­der to make As­pesi grow as a lifestyle la­bel — “not just as a sup­plier of good prod­ucts” — Gnocchi said the com­pany is eval­u­at­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of cre­at­ing col­lab­o­ra­tions. “[But] we don't want to col­lab­o­rate with other fash­ions brands,” he said. “Con­sid­ered the pe­cu­liar­ity of As­pesi, we think that it would be more in­ter­est­ing to team up with per­son­al­i­ties hail­ing from dif­fer­ent fields, such as art and de­sign.”

This re­la­tion­ship with the creative world will be cel­e­brated by the com­pany in the new flag­ship open­ing on Mi­lan's cen­tral Via Pi­etro Verri at the end of this month that will carry the la­bel's men's and women's col­lec­tions. This will re­place a for­mer unit in Via Mon­te­napoleone.

“It's a spe­cial lo­ca­tion, a for­mer bank, and with the Stu­dio Dor­doni, which is han­dling the project we are cre­at­ing a flex­i­ble space where we will be able to host events and artists,” Gnocchi said of the Mi­lan space. “The in­te­rior de­sign will be very tac­tile with im­pact­ful ma­te­ri­als, such as con­crete and iron, defin­ing a very clean, in­dus­trial space with a strik­ing ef­fect.”

While the com­pany re­cently opened two shops-in-shop in Seoul with its South Korean part­ner Sam­sung and an­other 20 units are go­ing to be un­veiled in the next five years, the whole­sale busi­ness re­mains key for the brand. In the U.S., As­pesi is avail­able in the ma­jor depart­ment stores, in­clud­ing Bergdorf Good­man and Neiman Mar­cus.

“We are get­ting in all the most im­por­tant re­tail­ers across Europe,” said Gnocchi, who is also work­ing to find the right busi­ness part­ners in Ja­pan and China.

At the same time, As­pesi is in­vest­ing in its e-com­merce, which is post­ing tripledigit growth. “We ex­pect it to ac­count be­tween 8 and 10 per­cent of our to­tal busi­ness within four years.”

Looks from the As­pesi men’s fall2019 col­lec­tion.

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