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Men'sWeek issue 01/15/2015

MILAN — “We don’t want to be revolutionary at all costs.”

This story first appeared in the January 15, 2015 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

That’s the opinion of Pal Zileri designer Mauro Ravizza Krieger, who is being charged with revamping the label under new owner Mayhoola for Investments. Ravizza Krieger knows that when attempting to rejuvenate a storied brand, updates are necessary, but these updates can’t override the brand’s “essence.”

Ravizza Krieger’s design efforts match those of Paolo Roviera, chief executive officer of the Italian men’s wear brand since last June. “There are very few companies that know how to do this kind of product at this level,” said Roviera, a former Ermenegildo Zegna Group executive who was tapped to provide a management structure to a firm that was essentially modeled as a family company.

“I have worked on mapping out the market, needs and opportunities, starting with the product,” said Roviera, whose goal is to double Pal Zileri’s market share in five years. Developing the U.S. market is also a top priority for the firm. Global revenues in 2014 totaled 100 million euros, or $118.3 million at current exchange.

The new course of the company will be unveiled with a performance and video art event called “Avant Craft” on Sunday in Milan.

Mayhoola for Investments, an investment vehicle backed by a private investor group from Qatar that also controls Valentino, last February acquired a majority stake in Forall Confezioni SpA, which produces Pal Zileri and also holds licenses for Moschino and Cerruti 1881, which are currently being phased out. The focus now is on Pal Zileri, which was founded in 1970 in Quinto Vicentino, Italy. It was previously owned by a group of Italian entrepreneurs, including the Barizza, Bellet, Miola and Ghiringhelli families, along with the Egyptian Arafa Holding.

“Our investors have no rush to cash out, and we want to become key players in men’s wear [by offering better] visibility with consumers, trading up our distribution and further raising our quality,” said Roviera, who interned at Pal Zileri 15 years ago.

In the Eighties, Forall collaborated with Luciano Soprani, Verri, Antonio Fusco, Krizia, Trussardi and Moschino to produce and distribute its men’s lines. The company went on to expand in the Nineties and developed Pal Zileri into a classic, highly crafted brand that uses top fabrics ranging from cashmere and guanaco to vicuna and is available in more than 70 countries. The brand had expanded to include a bespoke collection; Lab, a younger-skewed label; a more informal line called Concept; accessories, and fragrances. Since coming on board, Roviera has streamlined the six collections into two — the signature line and the younger Lab.

“This is an extraordinary company — just a bit dusty,” said Ravizza Krieger, who has worked with Caruso, Loro Piana, Herno and Luciano Barbera. “Now we need to create products [to fit the needs of the market.] We need a fresh mentality without forfeiting our tradition.” To wit, Ravizza Krieger is enhancing the sartorial heritage typical of the brand’s area — Italy’s northern Veneto region — by offering clean lines, a modern fit, a simple and linear aesthetic and updated fabrics and colors. Ravizza Krieger said the name of the tailor in charge of a suit would be sewn in to convey a personal and artisanal touch.

Retail prices start at $1,500. The collections are made in Italy.

Today, the company’s business is more tilted toward the Middle East, Russia, eastern Europe and the U.K., but Roviera is looking to expand in the U.S. The latter accounts for only around 7 percent of sales and “it should represent 20 to 25 percent,” he noted.

Roviera is also redeveloping Pal Zileri’s distribution network, which today counts 30 directly operated and 100 franchised stores, and more than 500 multibrand units. “We are changing the quality of the locations and our store concept, and not necessarily eyeing more doors,” Roviera said. The company is remodeling and expanding its London boutique on New Bond Street, which will be completed in the third quarter of 2015.

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