United Colors of Benetton is celebrating its signature multicultural approach by tapping Italian-Haitian designer Stella Jean to conceive the brand’s first capsule collection developed in collaboration with an external consultant designer.
The women’s capsule will hit about 100 United Colors of Benetton boutiques across Europe, India, the Far East and Latin America on Dec. 1, when it will be also launched online at the company’s web site.
The capsule includes 20 pieces, including knitwear and accessories, and it will retail from 79 euros, or $84 at current exchange, to 299 euros, or $316. Crafted from noble fibers, such as cashmere and mohair, the ready-to-wear offering features coats, maxi cardigans, plissé skirts, cropped pants and cutout sweaters, all infused with a folk attitude. In particular, Jean was inspired by Native American symbols, including the representations of Navajo’s ancestral spirits, for the motifs appearing on several items.
“This collaboration, the first in the history of our brand, has a special importance and we are happy that the partnership with Stella Jean can be defined a perfect marriage,” said United Colors of Benetton communication and marketing director Gianluca Pastore. “In particular, we share with Stella important elements, such as the use of knitwear, the love for colors and the social commitment.”
Since the launch of her namesake brand in 2011, Jean has always used fashion as a tool to communicate important messages aimed at raising awareness of social and ethical problems. In keeping with what she does for her own label, the designer involved a group of Haiti-based women to create the bracelets and charms included in the collection she conceived for United Colors of Benetton, while the capsule’s bags are produced by women in Ethiopia.
This project is part of United Colors of Benetton’s Women Empowerment Program, which was launched in 2014 to support women’s rights.
The launch of the capsule will be supported by both a video and a print advertising campaign making its debut Nov. 29. “This will be out for three weeks and will be pushed especially in Italy and Spain,” Pastore said.
He also highlighted that this project will be the first of a series of other collaborations, which will be developed in the future. “We start now an important path for the brand, which wants to continue to create innovation without losing its identity,” said Pastore, who added that the company’s performances are in line with expectations. “The whole sector suffered in September and October due to the hot weather, but the recovery was fast.”
With Italy accounting for 40 percent of the brand’s total business, next year United Colors of Benetton will increase its presence in international markets with about 150 stores to be opened especially across Russia, India and Latin America, with a special focus on Mexico and South Korea, where the company acquired 50 percent of the capital of its local partner in the first half of this year.
Last month, United Colors of Benetton launched a new line of Made in Italy fine knitwear, called TV 31100.