By  on July 6, 2009

MILAN — After a five-year run, Giambattista Valli has ended its licensing agreement with Gilmar Group to sign with Mariella Burani Fashion Group.

The upcoming spring collection will be the last produced by Gilmar before the production and distribution for fall 2010 is handed over to Burani under a five-year agreement.

The Paris-based Valli was courted by Burani and views the new partnership as necessary to grow the brand. He said key points are to raise awareness of the label and to make the offering more eclectic by boosting the accessories and costume jewelry segments.

By broadening the ready-to-wear collections, Valli hopes to open new regions and shops-in-shops.

Both Valli and Andrea Burani, director of product, sales and marketing at Burani Fashion Group want to consolidate top-performing markets such as Europe and the U.S. while conquering new ones, including the Middle and Far East, Russia and India.

Sources estimate the Valli label will reach sales of 20 million euros, or $28 million at current exchange rates, next year.

Andrea Burani said the firm approached Valli because of a belief in the potential of small niche brands like the designer’s. “We consider Valli one of the most interesting luxury designers today,” Burani said. “I’m convinced that the economic and financial tsunami has weeded out many companies more orientated towards marketing, so I believe in a return of quality and substance.”

For his part, Valli said the deal will allow him to “develop the brand without compromising my artistic or financial independence, which remains at the base of my entrepreneurial vision.”

In retail, Burani expects to bump up the current number of multibrand stores to 300 from 220 in the next three years.

Valli struck out on his own in 2004 after a long design career at Emanuel Ungaro. Leaving behind Ungaro’s characterizing colors and prints, Valli’s signature line targets stylish young jet-setters and exudes an understated and timeless elegance that spotlights craftsmanship.

He also signed with fur specialist Ciwifurs SpA to make luxurious and innovative outerwear.

Valli’s clients include Queen Rania of Jordan, Charlize Theron, Mischa Barton, Tilda Swinton, Penélope Cruz, Samantha Boardman and Alba Clemente.

Regarding Gilmar, Valli said he “shall not forget who was the first to believe in my work, marrying my project and supporting my challenge.”

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