MILAN — At a time when sustainability is top of mind, the 120% Lino brand has a vantage point, given that almost all of its product offer is made with linen, one of the most ecological fabrics.
When the private equity Made in Italy Fund, managed by Quadrivio and Pambianco, acquired a 70 percent stake of the brand’s parent company Palladium Moda in the fall of 2018, investors took control of a solid label with a history of 30 years, said Mauro Grange, chief executive officer of 120% Lino. “We were attracted by the product and strong sell-out figures, pegged at around 70 or 80 percent at Rinascente, for example,” said Grange, who is also a manager of the Made in Italy Fund, and who has been restructuring the company for the past year.
The Made in Italy Fund targets small to medium companies with growth potential in the fashion, design, beauty and food areas, with the goal to enhance the Made in Italy chain, and brings resources of around 200 million euros. The remaining 30 percent stake of 120% Lino are still in the hands of founder Alberto Peretto.
A new store in Naples, Fla., opened in December, signaling the importance of the U.S. market, which accounts for more than 50 percent of 120% Lino sales. There are now a total of six stores in Florida, between Palm Beach and Miami. “None of these stores rings up less than 1 million euros,” touted Grange. Linen is especially suitable for local and traveling consumers in Florida, with mainly South Americans gravitating to Miami, visitors from the east coast in Palm Beach and those from the west coast in Naples, noted the executive.
In the first half last year, the company opened nine doors with Neiman Marcus covering five states, from Arizona and Texas to Florida, Georgia and California. Three more are expected to open in the first quarter this year.
Grange hails from the home audio equipment firm McIntosh and the telecommunications world, but he sees similarities with the fashion industry. “It’s all business to consumers and what is key is to identify the customers’ needs,” he opined.
Indeed, Grange identified three pillars he has been working on to chart the new course of the company: communicating with the final consumer through the product and digital media (he has created a new logo and worked on a new e-commerce site); positioning the brand leveraging its history and relying on the qualities of linen, which he said “is super green, and does not need water, pesticides or chemicals to be treated,” and injecting a new management adding commercial, financial and marketing directors and a new team of designers, including Federico “Chicco” Barina, founder of the style and design office specializing in the development of denim collections Black Studio. Barina, who helped develop Dondup’s sustainable D/Zero denim fabric, has brought innovative ideas to the brand, introducing denim made with linen, and dyed naturally.
“It used to be a one-man show,” said Grange, praising the determination of the founder, but emphasizing the need to update the designs and evolve from the continuative looks. “There are no competitors that only sell linen products,” said Grange, who does not intend to change the brand’s core business, although he envisages the introduction of a few alternative pieces in light cashmere with a linen lining, for example. “It would be a mistake to try and deliver winter products, though,” he added. “Besides, now there are more intermediate seasons than anything else, and customers travel all year-round.” He also emphasized that 120% Lino delivers collections that are “very soft and colorful.”
In addition to a Milan store, which will be renovated, the company, which is based in Sant’Agata Bolognese, outside Bologna, has opened four doors in Spain with El Corte Inglés in Madrid, Marbella, Valencia and Málaga.
Through a retail expansion, including e-commerce, Grange expects to reach sales of 40 million euros in 2023, up from the current 12 million euros. A new banner will open in Italy’s luxury resort town of Forte dei Marmi in April. In the next three years, the company expects to count 20 to 24 stores in the U.S. and five units in Europe. Wholesale now accounts for 40 percent of revenues. The brand is available at around 350 stores. Women’s wear accounts for 70 percent of sales.
Jackets retail at around $600 or $700, while a suit is priced at around $600.