FERRARI’S NEW MOMENTUM
This story first appeared in the August 26, 2002 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
It’s not a Formula One Ferrari, but Franco Ferrari stoles, the result of years of research and skilled craftsmanship, may be considered as exclusive and sophisticated.
Founded in 1973, the company recently turned a new leaf with the demise of the designer Franco Ferrari earlier this year. This left his sister, Maria Laura Ferrari, to continue designing and developing the product on her own.
In addition, Achille Pinto, a textile company based outside Como, took control of the Franco Ferrari brand in June for an undisclosed sum.
“We plan to grow the company and double its sales in the next three years,” said Matteo Uliassi, chief executive of Franco Ferrari and grandson of Achille Pinto, who founded the company in 1933. “We want to expand Franco Ferrari’s customer base in the world through a selected number of clients and opening corners and dedicated spaces,” said Uliassi in an interview at Ferrari’s headquarters in Como.
Ferrari sales were about $2 million last year. Achille Pinto reported sales of about $25 million.
Uliassi said he considered his company a technical and financial partner for Ferrari. “We have a team that researches materials at Pinto, and we often realized there were some designs we couldn’t develop because they were too expensive for our target,” said Uliassi. “Now we can pursue these ideas for Ferrari, which has a higher-end customer.”
The U.S. accounts for about 50 percent of Ferrari sales, and the line is available at department and specialty stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale’s and Nordstrom. Wholesale prices range between $60 and $200.
“Our bestsellers with American buyers are the most costly and elegant items for the evening,” said Uliassi. “They are not interested in economic pieces, they want luxurious materials and hand-made applications.”
For next spring, looks include weightless organza flowers applied to stoles in the same material in a delicate lavender shade or in black, silk georgette scarves in fuchsia, white or azure with tiny pearls attached by hand, lace tulle or macramé silk and linen evening stoles with jet trimmings, embossed or iridescent silk and jacquard stoles and leather stoles with a beehive or lace motif.
Designer Maria Laura Ferrari said the company relied on a highly skilled group of artisans living in the area for the quality of the details. “They are exceptionally deft with their hands, and it takes them only two hours to finish a stole,” she said. The company produces 100,000 pieces per year.
Franco Ferrari has over the years produced licensed stoles and shawls for fashion houses such as Gucci, Nina Ricci, Givenchy and Christian Dior.
This fall, Acqua di Parma is expanding its accessories line, which accounts for 20 percent of total business, with the introduction of alabaster candle holders, incense holders and a new travel collection called Buttersoft.
“We created the alabaster candle and incense holders to complete our range of accessories with unique, hand-crafted items in the true Italian tradition, but with a contemporary edge,” said Luca di Montezemolo, who owns the company together with Diego Della Valle, Paolo Borgomanero and LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton.
Montezemolo said each piece has a translucent surface that reflects different shades of color, depending on the light. The alabaster candle stand retails for $125, and the incense holder for $95.
Buttersoft, meanwhile, includes a feather-light cube-shaped holdall, lined in black suede; a washable, stain-proof beauty zip; two travel bags in rounded shapes with a broad external pocket, and two inside pockets with washable internal lining. Metal details reproduce the classic Acqua di Parma cologne box. Other details include ergonomic grips, double contrasting stitching, reinforced corners and double-zip fastenings. Retail prices range from $700 to $950 for the bags, $215 for the cube and $275 for the beauty zip. The line will be available this fall at Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman and Barneys New York.