Missoni

MILAN — The return of Margherita Maccapani Missoni to the family’s fashion company is one of the first signs of change following the sale of a stake in the firm in June. The designer, daughter of president and creative director Angela Missoni, has been appointed creative director of the younger M Missoni line, tasked with further differentiating, repositioning and expanding the brand globally. Her first collection will be for spring 2020.

“I would like for the line to have its own life and a new vision,” Angela Missoni told WWD. “I appreciated Margherita’s efforts to find her own independence and her creative and managerial path, becoming very autonomous, and I am now proud that she can represent the future of the brand, whose codes she knows so well.”

Her daughter in 2015 launched her own independent children’s line, which is now closed, and has since worked on several projects, including collaborations with Splendid for sportswear; Yoox for children’s sleepwear; Away for luggage; Pottery Barn Kids for home; luxury handbag-maker Ximena Kavalekas and, in July, she teamed with apparel brand Mott50 on a sun-protective swimwear collection for women and children.

“My exit from the company was very formative as I was involved with many different kinds of products with different teams, so each step of my independent path made sense,” Margherita Maccapani Missoni said in an interview. “I was lucky my parents let me live each stage without forcing me in any sense, and the fact that I was engaged on so many different projects led the company to have confidence in me. I am excited, I feel ready and I was very happy when I was told that I would work on the brand in total. I did not leave because I was no longer interested, but I thought I would return when the company would ask me to and not just because I was around the corner. I am very proud I was asked and it was all totally unexpected.”

Angela Missoni saw a sign of continuity in her daughter’s return, with three creative women at Missoni, citing also her mother Rosita, who is in charge of the home collection. While a solid brand, with sales of over 50 million euros, she sees “great potential” in M Missoni and expects her daughter to draw a young customer, expand the collection, and accelerate its distribution and development.

“Margherita is surely an extremely creative person, close to the international world of fashion, and she has her own personal vision, so it was very important to bring her back within the company,” said Michele Norsa, vice president of the Missoni Group and industrial partner of FSI, which has acquired a 41.2 percent stake in Missoni for 70 million euros.  As per the agreement, the Missoni family will continue to have control of the firm with 58.8 percent of the shares. Last year, FSI SGR, or Fondo Strategico Italiano (Italian Strategic Fund), set up the FSI Midmarket Growth Equity Fund with the goal of supporting leading Made in Italy companies that share growth potential and the need to expand in international markets.

The idea, continued Norsa, is to also expand M Missoni’s product lines, given a “relatively limited” distribution. This would allow the brand to reach different regions, with an eye on emerging markets. Italy and the U.S. are currently the line’s most important markets.

“Capsules would also fit with M Missoni, which has more flexibility than the signature line in this sense, and they could fuel growth,” said Norsa.

At a time when many fashion groups focus on one signature brand, asked why he thought M Missoni would be an asset for the company, Norsa explained that “if the brand has a different stylistic quality and its own personality, it can help diffusion and visibility, it’s more dynamic, prices can be differentiated depending on the product and the range can be sold with a different timing.”

He also believes in the potential of the development of accessories and handbags. Norsa pointed to Margherita’s “strong feeling for trends, combined with her extraordinary social network,” which will help to reach a new and younger audience.

Founded in 1998, M Missoni is present in 60 countries worldwide and counts more than 700 points of sale. The brand is mainly distributed through the wholesale channel, but Norsa said there are plans to roll out M Missoni stores, and some bigger flagships could include M Missoni corners. Online sales are also a priority.

“This is a very important project we are focusing on and surely as part of our future projects it will be a leading element in the general plan of the group,” said Angela Missoni.

The company brought the M Missoni line in-house in April, selecting Italian manufacturing company Gilmar SpA as a production partner for the line. This followed the expiration of the licensing agreement with Valentino Fashion Group. The license for the M Missoni label was signed in 2005. In January 2009, Missoni and VFG renewed their licensing agreement for another 10 years, with the goal to further develop the brand. Gilmar, owned by the Gerani family, produces its own Iceberg line, designed by James Long, and has a 30 percent minority stake in 2112 Srl, the company that operates the No. 21 label, founded and designed by Alessandro Dell’Acqua.

Margherita Missoni said she was aware the challenge ahead is to give M Missoni a different identity, which would help preserve the signature line, while protecting its sales. Her idea is to study the history of Missoni, which celebrated its 65th anniversary last month.

“The brand has done so much, but the general public knows only a part of this history, there is so much material,” she said.

The designer said the line will present two traditional seasons, foregoing a fashion show, with flash collections throughout the year. “It would be nice to have collaborations, but first we must create its own identity, otherwise there is a dilution,” she said. “It’s exciting because the brand can start with different parameters, it does not have to comply to standard ones.”

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