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Slowear Taps Griariotto

Zegna veteran named ceo.

The Officina Slowear store in Paris.

PARIS — Slowear, a Venice-based group of made-in-Italy men’s heritage brands, has tapped Ermenegildo Zegna veteran Mario Griariotto as chief executive officer and charged him with developing the business in emerging markets.

This story first appeared in the May 18, 2009 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Griariotto, 51, succeeds and reports to Slowear founder Roberto Compagno, who has become president and ceo of holding company Industrie Confezioni Tessili.

“Like Zegna, Slowear is also a family-operated business with high-quality labels,” said Griariotto, who joined after 20 years at Zegna, during which he oversaw the start-up of the Tom Ford license and served as managing director for Europe, Middle East and Africa. “[However, Slowear’s] philosophy is atypical. We are more independent from the total look.”

Billed as an antidote to fast-fashion and lifestyle brands, Slowear operates a portfolio of brands specialized in a single product category. Founded in the Fifties, Incotex, the group’s mainstay, specializes in upscale casual slacks. The other brands are Glanshirt for men’s shirts, Montedoro for outerwear and Zanone for high-end knitwear.

“By covering various categories we are able to offer retailers the option to join the different products to create a wardrobe comprising the best skills and know-how for each brand,” Griariotto said.

Group earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization in 2008 hit 9 million euros, or $13.2 million, on turnover of 60 million euros, or $88.3 million.

Griarotto said he hopes to grow revenues by 5 percent this year, boosted by Asia. Slowear is to open an 1,100-square-foot franchised store in Hong Kong on June 8, and plans more units in Macau, Seoul, Taipei and Singapore in the next two years, followed by Beijing and Shanghai. As of now, Slowear counts a directly operated store in Milan and a store in Paris called “Officina Slowear,” which translates as “Slowear Workshop.” The group also wholesales in the U.S. to 55 specialty and department stores.

“Incotex has a commanding leadership in Italy in terms of credibility and distribution, which is no small feat in what can be described as the most competitive market in the world,” Griariotto asserted. “This country represents a real test of success and ideally a lab where you hone your skills. If you can succeed here you are ready to compete in any other market.”

He added the company was also looking to invest in its women’s offering.

“We are at the beginning of a new era,” Griariotto said. “The term luxury has not been used with the right intention. It’s not about building cathedral-like stores and diversifying brands but about putting the focus on value, quality and specialized savoir faire.”