Appeared In
Special Issue
Men'sWeek issue 03/20/2014

MILAN — “It’s the cherry on the cake,” said Stefano Canali, general director of the family-owned Canali, of having Andrea Pompilio on board as the company’s new creative consultant, a first for the Italian men’s brand.

This story first appeared in the March 20, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

As reported last week, Pompilio will introduce his capsule collection for the company on the runway on June 23 during Milan Men’s Fashion Week.

“We want to add design content to an excellent product,” explained Canali. “We were looking for a designer that would have the sensibility to evolve our brand in line with its essence, without straying too far and adding the right value.”

The executive emphasized how “essential” this move is, given an increasingly sophisticated and demanding customer. He described the decision to link with Pompilio as “a brave and ambitious choice,” adding, “We believe it will be really profitable.”

During a joint interview with Canali, Pompilio said he was drawn to accept the post because he “was always fascinated by the sartorial quality of the product and the history of the brand,” which celebrates its 80th anniversary this year. The designer said he was “very much stimulated” and is hoping to bring “added value” to the label, and move it forward.

Having joined the company two days earlier, Pompilio declined to provide details about designs. However, he did say: “You will clearly be able to see my touch.” Pompilio said some of his staple bright prints and patterns, often in unconventional color combinations, were “not necessarily” going to be injected into the Canali collection, underscoring that the brand has a “more elegant and higher-end” connotation than his own label.

“It will be a mini-collection around which the Canali collection hinges, the tip of the iceberg that extends to the rest,” Canali remarked. “This is a project dedicated to the luxury man, and the Pompilio traits will marry those of Canali.”

A distribution strategy has not been mapped out yet. Canali underscored that Pompilio’s designs are “not part of a second collection. This is only the beginning and we hope to continue it.”

Canali and Pompilio met through common friends and the executive quipped that the relationship was cemented over many a “Milanese risotto.” Asked if the production of Pompilio’s own namesake line could be in the cards in the future, Canali responded: “One thing at a time.”

Born in Pesaro, Italy, on July 29, 1973, Pompilio grew up in a creative environment, in his grandmother’s fashion shop, and was raised by his architect father and a mother with a passion for painting. At age eight, Pompilio decided he wanted to become a designer, and after graduating with a degree in fashion design from the institute of art in Pesaro, he went on to achieve a master’s degree in fashion design at Milan’s Istituto Marangoni in 1995.

A finalist in the Who’s on Next talent competition, Pompilio unveiled his first solo effort at men’s trade show Pitti Uomo in June 2011. Before branching out on his own, the Milan-based designer worked for a string of international brands, including Alessandro Dell’Acqua, Prada, Calvin Klein, Yves Saint Laurent and Bally.

Giorgio Armani, in his effort to support young talent, selected Pompilio as the first designer to show a collection last June at his Milan theater on Via Bergognone.

Canali said his family-owned company has been working on its “visual identity” in recent years and an experimental mood was undeniably evident on the Canali runway in January, where the company showed robelike cardigans with jacquard effects woven into them, for example. In April last year, the company unveiled a new logo, a stylized version of a needle and thread and the year of its founding, 1934, at its new 6,000-square-foot, two-level New York flagship on Madison Avenue. The logo was also introduced and used on the company’s apparel labels, as well as in its packaging and marketing materials. The company will officially unveil a new store concept in the Chinese city of Chengdu in May.

In January, Canali launched its revamped Web site with a short film featuring innovative graphic artist and calligrapher Job Wouters, the first of a series of international creative talents sharing their thoughts and their work method and presented by the firm. Innovative content will range from Canali’s history and services, such as the Su Misura, allowing users to book an appointment at their nearest store, to style tips and a magazine, L’Edizione.

In 2012, Canali revenues reached 209.8 million euros, or $268.5 million at average exchange, up 15.1 percent compared with the previous year.

Year-end figures for 2013 were not available at press time.