A preview look at the Carlo Pignatelli for Pronovias groomswear collection.

MILAN — Broken-hearted brides and grooms rejoice, 2021 might be a good one to get married — pandemic permitting.

On Wednesday the Pronovias Group, the bridal powerhouse based in Barcelona, announced a partnership with Carlo Pignatelli, the Made in Italy groomswear brand, that will allow the group to enter the men’s category.

This will “cement our reputation as the ultimate wedding wear brand,” said Amandine Ohayon, chief executive officer of the Pronovias Group since 2018, during a virtual press conference.

Terms of the deal were not fully disclosed, but in a separate interview with WWD Ohayon described the partnership as a “tailored agreement… structured more like a licensing agreement.”

The 10-year tie-up will allow Pronovias to introduce a 45-piece cobranded men’s collection each year, designed by the Carlo Pignatelli team, helmed by president and designer Carlo Pignatelli and Francesco Pignatelli, the brand’s creative director.

The inaugural collection to bow under the partnership is for 2022; it will be presented in March this year and will hit retail in September. It is manufactured by the Carlo Pignatelli company to ensure the highest quality possible, from sketch to delivery.

Ohayon explained that the company “really wanted to be at the forefront of innovation and moving into the men’s wear market. Since 1964 we’ve been dressing the dreams of brides, but we feel there’s definitely a great opportunity [in men’s]. If I look at it purely from a market perspective, we know that for example in Italy 70 percent of our retailers are offering men’s wear as well as bridalwear.”

In the first two years the collection will be rolled across Europe, where the Pronovias Group is the leading operator in 95 percent of the region’s countries, and progressively in other areas including the U.S. and China. It will be distributed through the company’s wholesalers, owned shops and through Carlo Pignatelli’s distributing network.

The Pronovias Group, which operates the Pronovias, St Patrick, White One, Nicole and Ladybird brands, has 4,000 points-of-sale worldwide, including 60 freestanding stores, seven of which are in the U.S.

To this end, Francesco Pignatelli, creative director of the Italian brand, said that the partnership will help “expand our horizons and get more international, in terms of business and also visibility.”

Style-wise the collection was developed thinking about an international clientele. He described the groom wearing the pieces as “romantic in his attitude but with a contemporary twist.” The looks will include not only suits, tuxedos and morning dresses, but also shirts, ties, silk scarves and cufflinks, while the color palette will range from muted tones to pastels and the signature midnight blues and burgundies the Carlo Pignatelli brand is more commonly associated with.

Ohayon described the 50-year-old Italian company as an “icon” when it comes to style and quality. She also praised Pronovias’ management and expressed confidence that they will be able to turn the partnership into a success very quickly.

“We’re really embarking in this new category with strong ambition and commitment to make it a success and that’s why this partnership is really part of the equation. Also leveraging our international network is key,” she said.

Carlo Cavallo, managing director South Europe at Pronovias Group, played an instrumental role in forging the tie-up. “I’ve always believed in joining the excellence of different companies, especially as the bridalwear market has radically changed. A company needs both internal and external synergies to grow,” he said.

The executive noted that distribution will be implemented so that no party is cannibalized, especially not the Carlo Pignatelli brand, which will continue to offer its namesake collections through its 450 points of sales.

As much as the move could sound counterintuitive given how much the COVID-19 had impacted ceremonies worldwide, Ohayon believes that “behind madness there is in some cases a great idea. Here, we know that in 2020 the majority of the couples have postponed their weddings rather than canceled them.”

Stores controlled by Pronovias have experienced only 1 to 3 percent of cancellations across geographies this year, plus the groomswear collection targets marriages taking place in 2022 when hopefully the health crisis is resolved. Ohayon forecast a robust performance in third and fourth quarter of this year, especially in those regions less dependent on seasonality, including Asia and the U.S.

“Despite the context we’re living in, we never stopped innovating and setting new projects in motion craving a brighter future that will represent an opportunity,” Cavallo said hinting at new projects to be unveiled later this year.

He also added that the partnership with Carlo Pignatelli is a sign of hope for the bridal market at large.

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