LONDON — Italian contemporary brands — and gelato shops — have quickly begun to colonize the King’s Road, and the latest to say “ciao” to one of the most famous fashion streets in the British capital is Twinset Milano, which is breaking into the U.K. market with two stand-alone stores and an ad campaign that features Georgia May Jagger and Suki Waterhouse.
The arrival in London marks a pivotal moment for the brand, which is now 100 percent owned by The Carlyle Group. Following the exit of founder Simona Barbieri, Carlyle has renamed the brand Twinset Milano and appointed two co-creative directors, Bill Shapiro and Lara Davies.
Carlyle is also looking to expand the brand’s international reach, hence the new U.K. units at 102 King’s Road, which has already opened, and Westfield London, which is set to open this week. The company isn’t stopping with London: A Shanghai opening is planned for September, while a Milan flagship is set to land on Corso Vittorio Emanuele during Milan Fashion Week. A fifth store will welcome customers in Moscow later this year.
“Until now, the brand has been very much focused on Italy and, now, expanding it internationally is fundamental to growth,” said Twinset’s chief executive officer Alessandro Varisco in an interview. “Our mission is to become a global brand with a more international product and culture.”
The label is sold through 137 stores, located throughout Southern Europe, Russia, the Middle East and Asia. The London units range between 1,190 square feet and 1,300 square feet.
Varisco, who joined Twinset in 2015 after serving as managing director of Moschino, added that online sales were already buoyant in the U.K. and the local e-commerce site would re-launch in early October.
Varisco added that he’s keen to explore wholesale opportunities in the market, too, and he’s hoping the Twinset aesthetic, which is built around layering lace, prints and oversize knits, will resonate with cosmopolitan Londoners. He said the locals are used to mixing and matching “and becoming designers themselves.”
To mark its U.K. debut, Twinset Milano has dedicated its global ad campaign to the British capital with the strap line “Ciao London!” that features Jagger and Waterhouse. The campaign, photographed by Giampaolo Sgura, will break on Aug. 27.
In London, it will appear on buses, taxis and at Sloane Square Underground station, a few minutes’ walk from the King’s Road store. There will also be a digital and social campaign building up toward the key festive sales period, the company said.
Italy represents about 60 percent of Twinset’s sales, and Varisco said that figure should shrink to 50 percent as the brand expands internationally. He also said Twinset is looking to become a full omnichannel brand.
The Carlyle Group first acquired 70 percent of Twinset in 2012, upping its stake to 90 percent in 2015 and taking full control in 2017 after Barbieri, who founded the company in 1990 with business partner Tiziano Sgarbi, left the for good.
Twinset is among the significant investments The Carlyle Group has made in European fashion and apparel sector, along with Moncler, Golden Goose Deluxe Brand and Dutch lingerie firm Hunkemöller International BV.
In 2016, Twinset registered revenues of 243.4 million euros, up 2.5 percent compared to 2015, but Varisco declined to give growth or revenue projections.
Twinset is the latest Italian name to land on the King’s Road, joining Slowear Venezia, Luca Faloni, Intimissimi, Yamamay and Geox.
Liu Jo, which like Twinset, was founded in Carpi, Italy, is right next door to the new unit. Sneaker brand Superga has recently agreed a deal with local property owners, the Cadogan Estate, for a 950-square-foot store at 57 King’s Road.
The King’s Road has become home to more than just Italian fashion brands: Big names in gelato, Amorino and Venchi, are both operating on the Chelsea thoroughfare, which has slowly been shifting away from big retail chains in favor of aspirational European brands.