Kiton is turning its attention to womenswear.
The Naples-based luxury tailoring firm, which was founded by Ciro Paone in 1956, will open a store on Madison Avenue in New York City this summer that will be dedicated exclusively to womenswear and men’s sportswear.
The shop, which will be located at 62nd Street, will be two floors and 1,700 square feet and will carry 70 percent women’s merchandise and 30 percent men’s casualwear. This is intended to complement the company’s six-story townhouse on E. 54th Street that will continue to carry the entire range of merchandise for both genders.
Antonio De Matteis, chief executive officer of Kiton Group and nephew of Paone, said the idea started during the pandemic when the company relocated and expanded its stores in Dubai, Milan and Rome to better showcase the women’s collection. “We relocated those three stores because we needed more square meters to make room for ladies,” he said.
And the change is paying off.
De Matteis said since the women’s-focused stores opened, women’s sales increased from 5 percent to 35 percent in Milan, zero to 50 percent in Rome and zero to 30 percent in Dubai.
“That’s the same idea we have for New York,” he said.
In that store, the women’s line will be merchandised on the ground floor, while the men’s sportswear will be housed on the smaller second level. The men’s tailored collection will only be sold at the Kiton townhouse. The company offers a full range of women’s tailored and casual apparel as well as accessories and all of the categories are performing well, De Matteis said.
“We saw the results in Dubai, Rome and Milan that showing ladies in a better way is good for the company,” he said. “We want to show that to the American market so that’s the reason we wanted to take another step on Madison Avenue.” The store is expected to open in June or July, he said.
Before the pandemic, womenswear accounted for only 5 percent of Kiton’s overall volume, but as of today, it now represents 20 percent of total sales. De Matteis said the goal is for that category to reach 50 percent of sales within five years. “We believe we can reach that number after we’ve seen the reaction.”
In addition to the 60 stores that it operates in 25 countries around the world, the brand also has a robust wholesale business with upscale retailers such as Bergdorf Goodman and Mitchells Stores, he said. Asia, notably Japan and Korea, is a strong market for the company, as was Russia before the Ukrainian war began, he said.
He said the company as a whole is “doing very well,” with sales currently running 38 percent ahead of 2021. “The situation in Russia limited our growth but that’s a very good sign for us and we’re expecting a strong 2022.”
Looking ahead, De Matteis said that the majority of the company’s current store fleet only carries menswear so Kiton is working to relocate other units in order to house both men’s and women’s together. “We will do London and Paris soon,” he said.
Paone, who died in late 2021, was considered one of the most charismatic entrepreneurs on the Italian fashion scene. The company he founded brought the Neapolitan sartorial message to the forefront around the world while retaining its focus on craftsmanship and Italian culture.
A fifth-generation member of a family of Italian fabric merchants, Paone established a small production of tailored pieces in 1956 under the CiPa label, which combined his initials. The company was eventually rebranded Kiton in 1968, taking inspiration from the name of the tunic worn in Ancient Greece. Since then, the private family-owned brand grew to offer outerwear, suits, shirts, knitwear and ties as well as footwear and accessories. In 2005, it also introduced womenswear. De Matteis has been CEO since 2007.
Today, Kiton employs more than 750 people around the world and operates five production sites, including a knitwear factory in Fidenza. In 2010, it acquired a controlling stake in Biella, Italy-based textile mill Carlo Barbera, a well-known high-end yarn manufacturer, for 3.3 million euros. And in 2013, it acquired the Palazzo Ferre in Milan, the former headquarters of Gianfranco Ferre, to serve as its home office.