MILAN — The arrival of Etro’s first chief executive officer under its new owners reflects the new phase that is in the works for the storied Italian brand.
On Thursday, Etro will reveal it has appointed Fabrizio Cardinali to the role, WWD can exclusively reveal. His arrival is expected before the end of the year.
Leveraging 25 years of experience in the luxury industry, Cardinali joins Etro from Dolce & Gabbana, where he held several roles with the company, and most recently served as chief operating officer and executive member of the board since June 2017.
His nearly 13-year tenure at Dolce & Gabbana was interspersed with five years at Compagnie Financière Richemont, where he held the role of CEO of fashion brands ranging from Dunhill to Lancel.
In this new role, Cardinali will work closely with L Catterton and the Etro family, including founder and chairman Gerolamo Etro, known as Gimmo.
As reported, giant private equity firm L Catterton in July acquired a majority stake in Etro with the goal to grow the Italian fashion brand’s customer base, expand into new categories, enhance its digital presence and drive global expansion, with a focus on the opportunities offered by Asia.
“I am thrilled by the opportunity to join Etro during such an exciting time for this iconic fashion house,” said Cardinali. “I have long admired the company’s heritage and its distinctive Italian style and craftsmanship, and I look forward to working closely with L Catterton, the Etro family, and the entire leadership team to capitalize on a number of exciting opportunities to grow the customer base and expand our category offerings and international footprint.”
The Etro family involved in the company includes siblings Veronica, creative director for the women’s collections; Kean, men’s creative director; Ippolito, who oversees strategic management, and Jacopo, who is in charge of the home line.
The brand is widely known for its signature paisley motif, bold patterns inspired by travel, and precious fabrics.
Luigi Feola, managing partner and head of Europe at L Catterton, praised how Cardinali has “established himself as an unparalleled leader in luxury fashion with incredible vision and creative energy,” underscoring that “his depth of expertise and operational acumen make him well-suited to drive this new chapter of growth as we look to build on Etro’s incredible legacy around the world.”
Gerolamo Etro founded the company in 1968 as a textile firm. In the ‘80s, it expanded into men’s and women’s ready-to-wear collections, accessories, beauty, fragrances and home goods. “As we enter into this meaningful new phase for the company, we are pleased to welcome an experienced and bright manager like Fabrizio,” Etro said. “I am convinced that his vision and knowledge of the business will strongly contribute to enhance Etro’s future growth and strengthen its positioning as a leading fashion brand in the global luxury scene.”
The company was previously led by Francesco Freschi, who held the role of general manager. He was previously an external consultant for the company for 20 years.
Valentino’s former CEO Stefano Sassi had been quietly consulting for Etro for several months and sources believe he was an added asset in the negotiations with L Catterton.
Etro relies on a global store network that comprises 140 boutiques in over 58 countries, with flagships in cities ranging from Milan and London to Paris, New York, Beijing and Tokyo.
Etro also has 20 travel retail doors, and the brand is available at major department stores and multibrand boutiques.
In addition, Etro’s directly operated e-commerce currently operates throughout Europe, the U.S. and Japan.
With about $30 billion of equity capital across its fund strategies and 17 offices around the world, L Catterton, backed by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, has been busy since the beginning of the year, taking a controlling stake in French outerwear maker Jott, known for its light, affordable down jackets in January. In March it took a majority stake in Birkenstock with family holding Financière Agache, an investment vehicle controlled by luxury titan Bernard Arnault and his family. That month, L Catterton also sold Dondup to the Made in Italy Fund.