YOUTH MOVEMENT

Byline: Alessandra Ilari

MILAN — Borgofiori is getting a makeover.
Gruppo Marzotto is steering its in-house bridge line in a younger, fresher direction after it made its debut in 1994 as a collection of formal, tailored pieces.
“The market isn’t into tailored pieces as it was in the past,” said Michele Norsa, head of Gruppo Marzotto’s apparel division. “Today, people spend more on separates and knitwear because if they already have their closets filled with gray, blue and black suits, they can update them with trendy tops or blouses.”
With this frame of mind, Norsa is spearheading Borgofiori’s relaunch. The package includes rejuvenating the collections, opening new stores, refurbishing existing ones and redesigning the logo, tags and packaging.
The spring collection sums up the new mood: looking pretty without sacrificing comfort. Standouts include raw-edged skirts and dresses in baby blue cottons, twinsets paired with long and flowing skirts, pearl gray shantung raincoats with matching shifts and deconstructed blazers in crinkled linen. All are in colors ranging from pastels to neutrals to acid brights.
The new Borgofiori premiered for fall last January. To present it to the press and retailers, Marzotto chose a former Art Deco porcelain factory in Paris for a number of reasons, Norsa said. First, the City of Lights is “alive and international,” it coincided with the men’s wear shows, and Marzotto had just inaugurated a new showroom there on Avenue de L’Opera.
A limited-edition catalog, with black-and-white photos of model Jayne Windsor shot by Michelangelo di Battista, mirrors the new approach. Aware of the importance of hitting the right marketing track, Borgofiori invested 15 percent of its fall 1999 sales in advertising.
Norsa said he expects the line to post sales of between $14 million and $17 million in 1999 and hopes to tack on 10 percent increases in the following years. So far, Borgofiori sold 140,000 pieces of the spring-summer collection.
“The idea behind bridge lines is to get women through their round-the-clock schedules,” said Norsa. “For special occasions, there are designer brands.”
Before moving into foreign markets, Norsa wants to make sure that Borgofiori’s new concept has set its roots in the domestic turf. “After that, we will move into the rest of Europe, the Far East and then the U.S. The U.S. is a cutthroat, competitive market, especially for bridge lines. Also, it seems to me that in the U.S., it’s American brands that are growing the most. That’s why we want to start out right.”
For the time being, Marzotto plans to open its own stores and to concentrate on refurbishing existing or new in-store shops with honey-colored hardwood floors, aluminum shelves and spotlights. The plan for 2001 is to have 800 sales points worldwide, 10 directly owned stores and 90 in-store shops.
From now on, store space dedicated to Borgofiori will be filled with easy, mix-and-match separates and accessories. To meet the needs of the fast-changing fashion market, Norsa said the company will keep the stock flowing with four flashes a year — cruise, Christmas, pre-spring and pre-fall. “Today, the market doesn’t want the twice-annual sales campaigns anymore.”