MILAN — Sixty Group has acquired high-end accessories brand Roberta di Camerino, giving the denim manufacturer an entry point to the luxury goods arena as it pursues the relaunch of the storied brand. Financial terms were not disclosed.
"This is a very serious and important project for us and we don't want to make mistakes," said Wicky Hassan, co-founder and creative director of the denim group. "We desired this opportunity but we're treading lightly because this is a new sector for us."
The announcement, expected today, confirms a WWD report on May 29.
Sixty Group had been eyeing the market for options when Roberta di Camerino founder Giuliana Coen called Hassan in tears last year, fearful that the suitor she had found for her firm wasn't the right fit.
Hassan phoned his partner Renato Rossi, co-founder and ceo of the $1 billion group, got approval and immediately moved to organize the brand's comeback.
"I've always loved this very Italian luxury brand that has a huge potential and that has been inspirational to many designers," Hassan said, adding that he and Rossi are still keen on opportunities in the luxury goods market — but without changing the group's strategy.
Coen, 88, who married Guido Camerino and was forced to flee to Switzerland during the Mussolini era, founded the Roberta di Camerino brand in the early Fifties.
Her velvet totes in deep jewel tones like the Bagonghi model, rapidly became a favorite of movie stars. In 1963, she showed her first fashion collection at Palazzo Pitti, which was an instant success thanks to soft jersey pieces in bright colors.
Although the Sixty Group transaction took place last year, it was kept quiet to allow Hassan and Rossi to put their team in place. As creative director, they hired Giorgia Scarpa, who spent seven years at Prada and worked at Dior. Alessandro Varisco was appointed general manager after stints at Ferrè and Versace.
The next step was to clean the licensing slate by weeding out product categories such as fragrances, small leather goods, knitwear and eyewear that were cannibalizing the brand. "Our mission is to focus on the brand's DNA, history and attitude, which stems from the bags," Hassan said.To that end, the spring collection features about 60 styles crafted with staple details like velvet, bold colors and the R-shaped buckle. The lineup includes latter-day renditions of the signature Bagonghi, a favorite of Grace Kelly, Andie McDowell and Isabella Rossellini. The soft and oversize tote is made in soft leather and with hand-painted R-shaped buckles that can retail for as much as $7,716. Colors include beige, brown and saffron yellow, while the velvet in deep jewel hues is more of an evening affair.
Regardless of the style, they will be assembled with the same techniques that have characterized Roberta di Camerino's creations. Skilled workers still hand weave velvet in dim lights to preserve its softness and shimmer.
The company will now be headquartered in Milan, but Rossi said the archives have been relocated to Rome to take better care of them.
Sixty Group is headquartered in Rome and Chieti, Italy, and was founded in 1989 when Hassan met Rossi. It has morphed into an international company with fashion brands that include Miss Sixty, Energie and Killah, alongside authentic wear firms such as Refrigiwear and Murphy & Nye.
The group's 2007 sales totaled 700 million euros, or $1 billion, with the goal to hit 860 million euros, or $1.3 billion, in two years. All dollar figures were converted at current exchange rates.
It produces 2 million pair of jeans a year between Miss Sixty and Energie. The Miss Sixty label, whose debut in 1989 pioneered a new era for jeans thanks to female-conscious cuts, drives sales with a 35 percent share of the pie.
The Sixty Group, which employs 3,000 people worldwide, plans to open 30 stores around the globe this year, including the first accessories-only unit in Madrid for Miss Sixty and Energie, for a total investment of $22 million. The group's brands are sold in 7,000 sales points in more than 100 countries.