MILAN — Chiara Ferragni last week told her 21 million Instagram followers she couldn’t wait to reveal the news she has been working on, triggering a frenzy of questions and lots of guesswork among her fans.
One thing is for sure: Ferragni has been laying the groundwork for the expansion of her namesake label’s business with determination and ambition, she revealed to WWD. “I like to take risks and try new things, and to prove that this is a serious job. We must have it all as much as men do, without compromises. It’s not easy. As women we are judged more severely and we ourselves must revolutionize our subconscious way of [undermining ourselves]. This can seem like a superficial job but it’s not, and not everyone understands that there are people behind it, business plans and a lot of work.”
While she continues to build her social media fandom, Ferragni long ago distanced herself from the mere role of influencer, piling up modeling contracts and taking on the role in 2017 of president and chief executive officer of TBS, the company that manages her The Blonde Salad blog and activities. Ferragni is also the ceo and creative director of Serendipity, which manages her namesake line.
After investing in a capital increase, although details were kept under wraps, Serendipity has inked a new licensing agreement with Swinger International for the production of ready-to-wear, handbags and accessories branded Chiara Ferragni. The first collection will bow for fall 2021. Footwear will continue to be produced by Mofra, the previous rtw and accessories licensee.
The license is part of a strategy Ferragni has been putting in place to modernize her label, distancing the product from the concept of “merchandising with a logo” for her fans. “The idea was to turn it into a more contemporary brand not necessarily linked to me. It’s not like I want to become a Donatella Versace, but I want the brand to have an identity, the right quality and price, to be international and with the right positioning,” she said, citing Kenzo, See by Chloé or GCDS as the brand’s ideal competitors. “I want to inject new life into the label.”
Thanks to the new strategic asset and license, and “a very prudent business plan,” the goal is to reach sales of 15.4 million euros in 2025 with a net profit of 4.4 million euros, and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization margin of 44 percent.
Serendipity’s sales in 2018 totaled 1.6 million euros, with net profits of 193,000 euros. Before she took charge and enforced the new strategy, sales were dragged down 34.5 percent with a loss of 520,000 euros in 2019.
Serendipity was founded in 2013 and the first Chiara Ferragni collection was launched in 2014.
Ferragni keeps her eyes on the bottom line to make sure her brand will live on for a long time. One way to do so is to work with the right partners, she said, choosing Swinger International, which also owns Genny, for its credibility, track record and the long lasting collaboration producing other brands in line with Chiara Ferragni, such as Versace Jeans Couture.
Building the brand with additional categories is key, in her view. Children’s wear is one division she is interested in — after all, her toddler son Leone has become an Instagram celebrity himself, captured on Ferragni’s account wearing top designer brands.
The launch of an eyewear collection was pushed from September to March next year in light of the pandemic and she confessed her desire to enter the fragrance and makeup realm. She is preparing for that with a top specialist since, following a first makeup capsule collection in partnership with Lancôme in May last year, the French beauty giant will unveil a new collaboration with Ferragni in November. “The success of the first drop was beyond expectations and this second will comprise even more products and an even more extensive distribution around the world,” she touted, adding that this was the first time Lancôme extended this kind of partnership with another brand to a second capsule.
A third step in the beauty category will take place in September 2021, but Ferragni said she was still mapping out the details.
Next year, Ferragni will launch another food project following a capsule launched earlier this year with Oreo, whose proceeds were donated to a hospital in Bergamo, one of Italy’s towns that was most severely hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. She was mum on the brand, but Ferragni is not new to such collaborations, having worked with the likes of Evian and Ladurée in the past.
Ferragni has also completed the restructuring of TBS. The company closed 2016 with revenues of 3.3 million euros and a net profit of 6,000 euros, and in 2019 sales amounted to 6.4 million euros, up 10 percent compared with the previous year, and net profit totaled 450,000 euros, up 359 percent compared with the previous year.
Influencers may have changed their communication on their social media in the wake of the the pandemic, but Ferragni said she chose to show her daily life during the lockdown and that her followers appreciated this even more. “I was worried about the lack of events, but this shows that the person is more interesting to them than all that is in the surroundings. I think I owe my success to the fact that I am honest and genuine.”
In addition to raising millions with her husband, musician Fedez, to fight the coronavirus, Ferragni has also been promoting tourism in Italy, posting her visits at the Uffizi Museum in Florence, for example, or touring Venice. “I would like to help to restart tourism, as much as I can, I feel it’s very important to show our iconic places, and I feel it’s my civic duty.”