MILAN — Sergio Rossi is restarting with SR1.
This story first appeared in the September 23, 2016 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
This is the name of the first collection to be unveiled by the new owner of the luxury footwear brand, Investindustrial, under the lead of recently arrived chief executive officer Riccardo Sciutto and the design team.
The collection will be presented at Milan’s Teatro Filodrammatici with a live ballet performance this evening. “It’s a tale about falling in love again,” said Sciutto in an exclusive interview.
The event is meant to reflect Sergio Rossi’s rebirth. The executive’s strategy is to return to the original nature of the brand as it was established by its namesake founder. The company has enlisted talents such as Patrick Kinmonth and Antonio Monfreda as art directors of the performance.
Sciutto, previously general manager of Hogan, joined Sergio Rossi in March, and still marvels at the quality of the company’s manufacturing plant in San Mauro Pascoli in Italy’s Emilia Romagna region, one of the country’s most important leather goods hubs. Covering 194,400 square feet, the state-of-the-art plant with solar panels has 110 employees, including artisans that have 40 years of experience with Sergio Rossi, and who painstakingly apply more than 100 steps to a shoe by hand. The company produces 250,000 pairs of shoes a year.
“There is a fantastic heritage and we want to bring back the soul of the brand,” said Sciutto, who proceeded to rebuild the archives upon his arrival, buying 400 pieces since then. “Sergio Rossi’s woman is refined, has an independent character and is seductive. There’s a touch of irony and subtle elegance,” observed Sciutto, who wants to return to these brand staples.
The SR1 collection will comprise 10 models that reference two of Sergio Rossi’s historic shoes. One example is a luxury high-heeled sabot with a metallic plaque on the vamp. The price range will not change, with designs retailing at between 400 and 600 euros, or $447 and $670. The company is also revamping a historic logo and changing product packaging.
Following the exit of design director Angelo Ruggeri in May, the brand is designed by a team headed by a veteran in footwear design whose name Sciutto prefers to keep under wraps.
The company has decided to suspend the men’s division to focus on its women’s category. “Let’s do that well, with brave and consistent choices,” he said.
He did reveal the appointment of a new chief operating officer, Giuseppe Pinto, and the arrival of a new IT director, a new producing and merchandising director, and a new head of retail to beef up his team.
European investment house Investindustrial in December 2015 took control of Sergio Rossi from Kering, and tapped former Pomellato ceo Andrea Morante as president of the firm. Investindustrial was founded by Italian financier Andrea C. Bonomi and also has stakes in Aston Martin, B&B Italia and luxury lighting firm Flos, among others.
The footwear company was founded by designer Sergio Rossi in the Fifties. Gucci Group, which has since been folded into Kering, snapped up a majority stake in the brand in 1999 during an aggressive acquisition drive masterminded by Domenico De Sole and Tom Ford. The group eventually took full control of the company in 2004.
Sergio Rossi’s revenues total around 70 million euros, or $78 million, said Sciutto.
In sync with Sciutto’s new communication and marketing strategy, a new store concept will be unveiled in the spring. There are 50 Sergio Rossi freestanding boutiques and the brand also is carried in more than 400 multibrand stores. When asked what distribution plans he had in mind for the brand, Sciutto said it was “not a problem of number but of deeper penetration.”
He said the brand is very strong in Japan, with 19 points of sale in the country. In the U.S., there are stores in Miami and New York. There are also boutiques in Europe, the Middle East and Asia.