MILAN — Byblos’ comeback is afoot.
The Italian advance contemporary brand aims to press reset, rebooting as a Gen Z- and Millennial-friendly label, with a genderless approach and a business model eschewing the rules of established seasons and fashion agenda.
“In the past two years the world has changed for good, with COVID-19 accelerating trends on a global scale,” company owner and designer Manuel Facchini explained during an exclusive interview with WWD at the Byblos headquarters in central Milan.
“We exploited this silent period to explore and evaluate new potential approaches to the market,” he said. “We had always championed an open, inclusive, young and transversal approach, but the new course will accelerate our technological and sustainable capabilities.”
The brand is gearing up to unveil its first collection in two years on Friday, with a fashion film-slash-digital runway show broadcast on its website and social media channels. This is part of Byblos’ commitment “to overcome intermediation when it comes to communicating with our clients,” Facchini noted, adding that he doesn’t plan a return to official fashion weeks for the foreseeable future.
Called Twisted, the collection blends minimal and graphic tailoring rich in hardware embellishments and cutouts, imbued with rock ‘n’ roll influences, and logoed sportswear attire. The lineup boasts an increased attention to sustainable fabrics, including organic hemp, and packaging, the latter made of deadstock textiles and fabrics blended with cellulose. “It’s a process, we’re not 100 percent sustainable but they journey has begun,” Facchini offered.
According to the entrepreneur, Byblos’ revamped values “are aimed at targeting young consumers, with a cheeky communication strategy.” He’s planning to keep them engaged throughout the year by dropping see now, buy now capsule collections, focused on single product categories, he said, and further developing the accessories range, whose potential is still untapped.
For the past two years, the company has gone through a rebooting phase following the 2019 restructuring plan filed with the Court of Milan in the wake of alleged mismanagement that caused Byblos Srl’s sole director Facchini to sue three of the company’s former managers for “setting up a very impervious scheme” involving the finance, management and production departments to divert financial resources, he said.
Three different proceedings have been initiated by the Court of Milan, including a criminal trial, as part of which the three managers have been indicted; a civil dispute, and a dispute related to labor matters. The latter has already been resolved in favor of Byblos Srl. The company has allegedly lost 19 million euros as a result of the aforementioned mismanagement.
As part of the new course, Facchini set up a new company called Supernova Srl to operate the Byblos brand, investing in structuring its design team and communication and marketing departments, considered the two fundamental assets for the relaunch.
In November, Byblos will open a flagship store on Milan’s Via Della Spiga in the Golden Triangle luxury shopping destination and will debut a revamped e-commerce site next week.
Largely dependent on wholesale in the past, the company does plan to keep pursuing opportunities in that channel, by directly holding showroom appointment with retailers instead of employing agents, all the while leveraging the digital medium for remote sales campaigns.
In addition to the namesake brand, the company operates the By Byblos diffusion line and a range of licenses, including fragrances with Eurocosmesi, kids’ wear with Giofran Baby and Asso for footwear.
Including royalties coming from licenses and through the opening of new directly operated and franchised stores, Facchini expects Byblos to reach 20 million to 30 million euros in total revenues over two to three years.
Facchini established Byblos Srl in April 2018 after exiting his family-owned company, Swinger International, which had bought the Byblos brand from Prada Group in 2002. The label was originally founded in 1973 by the Girombelli family and rose to success in the ’80s with designers including Gianni Versace and duo Alan Cleaver and Keith Varty.