Matteo Marzotto

MILAN — Matteo Marzotto is investing in fashion once again.

One of the former owners and former chairman of Valentino, who also took a stake in and relaunched the Vionnet brand, Marzotto is eyeing a younger and more streetwear customer with an investment in Dondup.

“This is one of the very few brands in this segment and positioning that is so recognizable,” Marzotto told WWD. “There is an excellent basis to further develop the label.”

L Capital, now part of L Catterton, will continue to remain Dondup’s majority shareholder. Marzotto declined to provide financial details of the transaction but said this was also an “operative” investment and not purely a financial one.

Andrea Ottaviano, partner at L Catterton, expressed his belief in the brand and “the great potential of its style content on global markets. We are enthusiastic about Matteo Marzotto’s arrival and sure that his contribution will be fundamental for the development and positioning of Dondup among the most important players in the world.”

Cofounder Massimo Berloni, the former president of Dondup, will become honorary president. Manuela Mariotti, who founded the brand with Berloni in 1999, will remain creative director of both the men’s and women’s collections.

Marco Casoni, who worked with Marzotto at Valentino and was a partner in Vionnet as well as general director at Marni, will become chief executive officer at Dondup, succeeding Carlo Morfini.

Arcadia Srl, Dondup’s parent company, has sales of about 60 million euros, or $67.4 million at current exchange, and an earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization margin of 20 percent.

Italy accounts for 80 percent of sales and Marzotto said the goal is to expand the brand internationally.

Casoni said the company aims to reach sales of around 90 million euros, or $101.1 million, in 2020.

“Massimo and Manuela have done a formidable job,” said Marzotto. “Yes, this is different from what I’ve done in the past, but I’ve always been a little jealous of the possibility for this market segment to grow quickly.”

While regularly impeccably dressed in tailored suits, Marzotto, who is an avid sportsman, said that he also enjoys wearing more “relaxed” looks — polos and jeans. He said he was enjoying the opportunity to put himself to the test.

Casoni, who placed Dondup in the contemporary premium sector, said the brand “has more values and content than what is expressed on the market.” He praised the style, research, technical knowledge and “industrial excellence” seen at Dondup’s Fossombrone manufacturing plant in Italy’s Marche region. “This allows flexibility because it is all made in house and we can produce capsules depending on the markets and new assortments three or four times per season,” he observed.

Marzotto’s and Casoni’s strategy is to revise the brand’s distribution and enhance its communication. “We have to shine the light on the range of Dondup products, tell a story–it’s not only about pants, although they have an extraordinary fit,” said Marzotto, emphasizing the company’s “entire pipeline from washes to finishings.”

“Dondup can compete with fashion houses and lifestyle brands in terms of style and research,” noted Casoni.

The collection is currently available at 600 multibrand stores. A flagship is opening on Sept. 22 during Milan Fashion Week in Via Spiga. Marzotto said he would like the second store to open in Rome in the second half of next year.

The company will also focus on key players in France and the U.K., and plans partnerships in Asia, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong and China, while eyeing the U.S. and working on an e-commerce and web project.

Basic denim retails at between 220 and 250 euros, or $247 and $281 at current exchange, while knits retail at around 350 euros, or $394.

Denim accounts for 50 percent of revenues today, but the company plans to expand its fashion content. Women’s wear accounts for 50 percent of sales.

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