MILAN — Ballantyne Cashmere is all about Scotland and its tradition, but it’s also about Italy now, too.
With a new Italian creative director Massimo Alba, a new Italian president Alfredo Canessa, and new Milan headquarters, Ballantyne is initiating a rejuvenation of its brand, product and image with this fall’s collection. And, for the first time, coats and jackets will be entirely produced in Italy.
Ensconced in a residential district here, with windows overlooking a garden, Ballantyne’s Milan showroom is filled with an array of color: cashmere sweaters in bright acid hues or pastel bubblegum tones hanging in dizzying rows.
“We are not [upending] the brand, but we are giving it a more modern touch,” said Alba, who was creative director at Malo until 1999 and had a two-year stintat Agnona. “At the same time, we want to redefine Ballantyne as a lifestyle brand with a European identity, more than a Scottish one.”
That said, the company’s tag stitched on the garments is a reminder of its origins: “This is an original Ballantyne knitted in Scotland since 1921 from exclusive colors in pure cashmere.”
Alba said he wants to add a more feminine touch to the line and to lose some of the perfection often associated with cashmere knits. “Scotland evokes tweed and masculine fabrics and designs — we want to lose some of the obsession with perfection,” said Alba.
Accordingly, the designer added inlaid abstract flowers, butterflies, bees and such. “I want to tell a story with these drawings,” he said. Alba also introduced the “random” knit, with cashmere yarns in different colors cropping up irregularly and casually on the sweaters.
To back the new course of the company, Ballantyne is introducing a new retail concept and further penetrating the U.S. market, which currently accounts for about 5 percent of sales. This summer, the company plans to open stores in London and Tokyo and will restructure London’s existing Bond Street store and the New York Madison Avenue boutique. They will follow the new retail concept: walls covered by a linen tapestry with a colorful flower pattern from the Sixties designed by Joseph Frank and solid wood furniture. “The product was very traditional and never thoroughly entered the American market,” said Canessa, who owned Malo and sold the company to It Holding in 1999. In the U.S., the line is also available at Barneys New York and Bergdorf Goodman. Cashmere sweaters retail between $480 and $800.Japan, which accounts for 30 percent of sales, is one of Ballantyne’s main markets, with three branded stores and 20 in-store shops.
Canessa said in three years, he wants the women’s division to account for 70 percent of sales. Today, it accounts for only 20 percent of sales.
Ballantyne is owned by Dawson International plc, which also ownsJoseph Dawson (dehaired cashmere) Todd & Duncan (cashmere and blended yarns) and Barrie and Glenmac (knitwear).
Canessa said “the scale of the restructuring inhibited short-term financial performance during 2002, but that positive results will begin to flow during 2003.” In 2002, Dawson registered a loss of $7.8 million on sales of $97.9 million, down from $120.8 million the year before. Dollar figures are converted from pounds at current exchange. The company did not break down sales for the Ballantyne division.
@kith is moving into children’s. The men’s and women’s streetwear brand has launched Kidset, a Kith kids line located in New York at 64 Bleecker Street. The line includes mini versions of staple Kith pieces like the Astor bomber jacket and the Kith box logo sweatshirts, along with a wall that can display up to 120 pairs of shoes from @adidas, @newbalance, @timberland and more. #wwdfashion
“I just wanted to create this fully rounded character, but I do think what excited me most was just the opportunity to give a group of people representation that I feel needs it. I like to do characters in projects that stand for something and Karolina definitely does, so that was really exciting to me,” @ginnygardner says of her new role in @hulu’s “The Runaways.” Gardner plays Karolina Dean, a queer superhero, which is a rarity for @marvel. Read more about Gardner’s character on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @dandoperalski)
@heriethpaul and @gracebol have a moment on the @victoriassecret fashion show 2017. See every look from the runway on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: @giovanni_giannoni_photo) #wwdfashion #victoriassecret #VSFashionShow
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia