MILAN — Cristina Tardito is a woman with a very busy schedule.
A design consultant for a prestigious French brand, she is also at the helm of Tardito Holding, which controls both the Tamigi manufacturing company and Kristina Ti, the women’s fashion brand she established two decades ago.
Tardito inherited the manufacturing company from her father, who founded it in 1964 and became a leader in the production of underwear and beachwear. But when Tamigi was passed on to the founder’s daughter seven year ago, the company was actually navigating through troubled waters.
“Before he died, we fought a lot, the generational shift wasn’t so smooth, but when he passed away, I rolled up my sleeves and I managed to restructure the company, which is now in great shape,” explained Tardito. While she can’t reveal the name of the luxury brand she consults for, Tardito said that years ago she succeeded in bringing to Tamigi the development and production of the garments that she designs for that label — and much needed relief.
In fact, Tardito actually transformed a company that was developing beachwear and underwear collections with a very commercial attitude into a small gem focused on high-end custom-made productions for luxury labels.
“When I was young, I was a sort of typical spoiled girl, not in the mood for studying, a bit of a troublemaker,” admitted Tardito. “I was living in Florence at that time, so when my father realized that I was doing nothing, he called me back to Turin and he encouraged me to do my beachwear and underwear line: Kristina Ti. That was the absolute turning point of my life.”
Her consultancy work, which has included collaborating with Matthew Williamson at Emilio Pucci and with Rick Owens, and leading Tamigi didn’t allow her to really be involved in the development of Kristina Ti. “After years of great success, I couldn’t focus on my brand that much, and consequently it suffered,” Tardito said.
However, since people never really forget their first love, during the pandemic, when Tardito had to find new energy and strength to protect her company and her employees, she found new resources inside herself and she focused again on Kristina Ti.
“During the pandemic, I felt a huge responsibility on my shoulders. I tried to react to the shock of the moment and even if I was aware that it wouldn’t have really helped the company financially, I decided to start producing Kristina Ti face masks.…We sold the equivalent of 150,000 euros and that gave us a huge boost of energy.”
Currently, Tardito is working on the development of the Kristina Ti fall 2022 collection, which will mark a sort of relaunch of the brand.
But instead of focusing on strict strategies, the designer said she is following her instinct. “In my life, I’m experiencing a new freedom and I definitely want to embrace that,” Tardito said. “I don’t feel like following merchandising and commercial diktats, I feel that I want to do what I like. I want to listen to myself and my creativity in a very spontaneous way, which is something that my loyal consumers love and appreciate.”
Along with the seasonal collections, Kristina Ti offers a range of one-of-a-kind upcycled items in its boutiques in Milan, Turin, Forte dei Marmi and Porto Cervo. “Instead of putting pieces from past collections on sale, I decided to customize and rework them to give them a second life, creating something unique and special,” said the designer, who also discovered a passion for the online platform during the lockdown. “In the past, I was quite reluctant to sell online, but I changed my mind and I discovered the great opportunities it offers.”
Developing special products and capsules distributed through a direct-to-consumer strategy will be pivotal in the new phase of the brand. For example, Kristina Ti recently unveiled a capsule collection of garments and accessories decorated with images of animals that traditionally bring good luck, drawn by illustrator Elisa Seitzinger.
Business-wise, Tardito said she will rely on a commercial strategy focused on the needs of the specific markets approached by the brand. “In the past, the brand was very strong in Japan. The goal is to return there, as well as in the United States, with collections and products tailored to those markets’ specific requests,” she explained.