MILAN — “This brand is not my thing.” This is how fashion entrepreneur Cristina Calori kicked off an interview about the relaunch of Italian heritage knitwear brand Avon Celli. It might sound awkward to hear that from someone who is presenting a new project, but it actually says a lot about Calori’s approach to business.
Calori is the president of WP Lavori in Corso, a Bologna, Italy-based group that manages and distributes a range of international brands. In particular, the company owns the Baracuta and BD Baggies labels, and distributes Barbour and Blundstone.
“We are very focused on heritage brands, but they are all in the outdoors, more sporty and casual segment,” Calori explained. “Avon Celli is a heritage brand, but it’s positioned in the luxury arena and that’s why I decided to keep it separate from the other labels.”
Fully aware of the differences separating her traditional business from the luxury arena, for the relaunch of Avon Celli, Calori decided to team with Milan-based showroom 247, which will distribute the label’s collections starting from the spring 2022 sales campaign, beginning this week.
The Italian entrepreneur acquired Avon Celli about a decade ago, but the project remained on the shelf for a while. “I was too busy doing other things, but when I sold Woolrich, I finally had more time to dedicate to other things and here we go,” she explained.
Founded in Milan by Pasquale Celli in 1922, Avon Celli had a golden moment in the ’90s, when the company was not only selling successful knitwear collections under the Avon Celli brand, but was also the exclusive knitwear manufacturer of a range of luxury labels, including Christian Dior and Yves Saint Laurent.
“My father used to wear Avon Celli beautiful sweaters that were recognized for the richness of their special stitches,” said Calori, adding that the brand’s archives dating back through the ’80s are serving as a major source of inspiration for the relaunch of the label.
While historically the brand was more focused on men’s wear, Calori decided to dedicate the same attention to both collections, which for the spring 2022 season feature around 20 items each.
Mainly crafted from cotton, as well as cotton and silk blends, the lineup offers an all-knit total look, where tops, ranging from sweaters to polo shirts, are juxtaposed with dresses, shorts and pants. “The big focus is on textures since we are using all the incredible stitches that we are finding in the archives,” said Calori, adding that the creative team mainly worked a color palette of vibrant tones, including red, that was chosen as Avon Celli’s official hue.
The label’s spring 2022 collection, which will also be sold at the brand’s online store to be launched in February, will retail from 400 euros to 1,000 euros.
Asked about the potential of the brand, Calori said that, in the first phase, Italy will be the most appealing market for the brand. “However, I see great potential in the United States, where the brand used to have a very good business,” she added.