MILAN — Add another fashion house to the growing list of those changing designers: Massimiliano Giornetti is leaving Salvatore Ferragamo. His fall collection, shown in Milan in February, was his last for the brand.
Ferragamo will rely on its in-house team to continue designing the brand. The disclosure was made on Thursday after the close of trading in Milan, where the company is publicly listed.
Giornetti joined the Florence-based firm in 2000 to head up the design and development of its men’s wear. After a women’s collection for fall 2010, he was promoted to overall creative director of the brand in 2011.
In an exclusive interview, Ferragamo chief executive officer Michele Norsa told WWD this was a “natural evolution, after a long-lasting and profitable collaboration.” The executive said Giornetti helped grow the company and the staff over the years. “It was a positive collaboration.”
Norsa pointed to an opportunity for the company “to reason on and revisit its approach to creativity.” He said the house has been discovering and supporting “many young talents and today can count on an excellent in-house creative team.” It is understood the house has bolstered its design team in several product categories.
Around 80 percent of the group’s revenues derive from leather goods and footwear. Asked about a possible change of strategy, Norsa firmly denied that possibility.
Giornetti started his career in women’s wear with the Rome-based haute couture designer Anton Giulio Grande. He is a graduate of Florence’s Polimoda fashion school and took classes at London’s College of Fashion. Before Giornetti’s promotion to creative director, Ferragamo had gone through a few women’s wear designers — Cristina Ortiz, Graeme Black and Nathalie Gervais.
Ferragamo’s decision to rely on its in-house team reflects how the company is reaching out to a younger generation of consumers, including Millennials, and their digital communication, said Norsa. However, he cautioned against one specific model. “Each company chooses its own.”
Armando Branchini, deputy chairman of Milan-based InterCorporate, said a single designer “with a strong personality is needed in moments of repositioning or as a disruptor, to change the spirit of a collection.” Giornetti’s input was most relevant and “at his peak” early on in his collaboration with Ferragamo. “He brought a classy and contemporary style in line with the brand when it most needed it,” said Branchini.
Ortiz was hired in August 2007 to succeed Black when he left to concentrate on his namesake line, and she left in 2009, her designs straying from the elegant roots of the brand. “When the product is in control and the brand identity is in place, the chief executive and the management team are more important,” Branchini contended.
At the time of his appointment to the top job, Giornetti said his goal was to create “a strong and cohesive vision in every category,” making Ferragamo “more of a lifestyle brand.”
Milan-based marketing and strategic consultant Armando Mammina said “the in-house team is perfectly capable of developing the brand’s core accessories business, which is often continued and updated depending on the season and the market.”
Earlier this month, Ferragamo reported another strong year of profits and sales growth in 2015. For the year, net profit increased 6.7 percent on the back of strong sales of leather goods. The company said its bottom line reached 174.5 million euros, or $190.6 million, while revenues rose 7.4 percent to 1.43 billion euros, or $1.58 billion. This included a negative hedging effect of 51 million euros, or $56.6 million.
Footwear sales, which make up nearly half of group turnover, increased 5.7 percent at current exchange, but dropped 1 percent at constant currencies, while leather goods, which make up more than one-third of group turnover, grew 12 percent and rose 6.4 percent at constant currencies. Ready-to-wear sales accounted for around 7 percent of sales, flat compared with the previous year.
The change at Ferragamo is the latest shake-up to hit a fashion house in Europe. Christian Dior, Lanvin, Berluti and Ermenegildo Zegna are among the brands that have seen their designers exit within the last nine months. Lanvin and Zegna have named new creative directors in Bouchra Jarrar and Alessandro Sartori, respectively, while Dior and Berluti, both part of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, continue their searches.