Chiara Boni

Chiara Boni La Petite Robe chief executive officer Maurizio Germanetti expects the company to return to pre-COVID-19 performances in 2022.

During an interview at the Augustus Resort Beach in Tuscany’s luxury sea resort Forte dei Marmi, where the Milan-based label on Wednesday hosted its spring 2021 runway show for a small group of about 20 journalists, Germanetti said the fashion company was particularly hit by the pandemic and that “sales are currently still very slow.”

Founded by designer Chiara Boni in 2009, Chiara Boni La Petite Robe, which is known for feminine and flattering frocks crafted from a sustainable jersey fabric produced by textile specialist Eurojersey, counts the U.S. as its biggest market, accounting for 70 percent of sales.

According to Germanetti, the company closed the first semester of the year with sales down 43 percent compared to the same period last year and expects to generate revenues of 15 million euros in 2020, reporting a 40 percent decrease compared to 2019.

Investments in digital and the recent unveiling of the Leisure line — a collection of relaxed yet chic separates that Boni conceived during the lockdown and which are designed for off-duty occasions — will support the relaunch of the brand after the coronavirus crisis, according to Germanetti.

“We have great expectations for the Leisure line, which I think will support our business in the next two years,” said Germanetti, lamenting the dramatic drop in the sales of cocktail and evening dresses, which represent the brand’s core business. “The Leisure line is performing well: Saks placed a very satisfying order and also Nordstrom is buying it.”

Chiara Boni La Petite Robe operates three stores in Italy — in Milan, Rome and Florence. The latter was inaugurated last December. “The business of the stores in Milan and Rome is actually down 65 percent compared to last year,” said Germanetti, putting the focus on the fact that the brand’s shops are located in very tourist cities, which are suffering from a significant lack of international visitors due to the restrictions imposed by the pandemic.

Because of its product offering, more focused on cocktail and occasion, the brand’s online store didn’t grow during the lockdowns across the world. “Right now, people don’t really feel the necessity to buy clothes for going out. This is why I think that the launch of the leisurewear range will become extremely instrumental over the next few months.”

At the same, Chiara Boni La Petite Robe is trying to enter the Asian market, which it hasn’t explored yet. “We are looking for the right partner to approach the Chinese market, which has very specific commercial needs and a very different retail organization from the rest of the world.”

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