Nicholas Kirkwood Adds to Pollini Role

Pollini brand focuses on core accessories business, shutters apparel division.

A Pollini sketch for Preen.

MILAN — Aeffe SpA has promoted Nicholas Kirkwood to the post of creative director of the Pollini brand, which will focus on its core accessories business and shutter its apparel division.

This story first appeared in the September 16, 2010 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The Italian manufacturer — which, in addition to Pollini, produces and distributes collections for Alberta Ferretti, Moschino, Jean Paul Gaultier and Cacharel — tapped Kirkwood to spearhead Pollini’s accessories division in May 2008. At the time, Jonathan Saunders also joined Pollini as ready-to-wear director, but he has since left the company. The two men succeeded Rifat Ozbek at the end of his four-year contract.

Kirkwood’s first collection for Pollini will bow for spring during Milan Fashion Week later this month.

“This is a precise signal for the future of the brand,” said Massimo Ferretti, executive chairman of Aeffe. “The Pollini world is associated with accessories, and this decision shows that we want to recover the label and position it accordingly.”

Ferretti contended that expanding with apparel “was a great operation, but it diluted the brand.”

Aeffe took control of Pollini at the end of 2000 and introduced an apparel line in 2003. Pollini produces accessories for the brands in the Aeffe stable.

Ferretti said Aeffe’s new focus on Pollini will help further dispel recent rumors that he was set on selling the brand. The executive conceded accessories in the first half “suffered the most,” and hoped this decision will help bring the brand back on track. In the first six months of the year, sales of rtw dropped 4.9 percent, totaling 85.8 million euros, or $114.1 million, while sales of footwear and leather goods declined 19.2 percent to 22.3 million euros, or $29.6 million.

Kirkwood, who hails from London’s Central Saint Martins, won the Who’s on Next talent search in 2007 as best accessories designer, was Footwear News’ Designer of the Year in 2008 and is a British Fashion Award nominee for accessories design.

In his new post, Kirkwood is set to launch a project called “Pollini Forward Designers,” a collaboration with five emerging designers he selected. Pollini will produce shoes for their spring shows and thus help them expand their brands, as none has a shoe line yet. The designers are: Preen, who showed on Sept. 12 in New York; Meadham Kirchhoff, Michael van der Ham and Louise Gray, who show in London, and Manish Arora, who shows in Paris. These collections will be available in Pollini stores beginning in February.