TRUSSARDI MAKES BID TO REDEFINE IMAGE WITH NEW, SPORTIER LINES
Byline: Samantha Conti
MILAN — Nicola Trussardi is ready to give some of the world’s most stylish men and women a dressing down.
“People want clothing that makes life easier. They want to be elegant, but they also want to move swiftly and easily through life. They can’t be weighed down anymore,” Trussardi said in a recent interview at his headquarters here.
“Although there is still a big gap between work dress and weekend dress, I am convinced that is changing. Already I see young Milanese businessmen from Morgan Stanley and Salomon Brothers who go to work with rugged jackets — fit for the mountains — over their business suits,” Trussardi added.
That’s why he’s come up with T-Store: a chain of shops that sell Trussardi’s three casual collections and whose salespeople encourage customers to sneak a few easy pieces into their everyday, professional wardrobes. T-Store is also the name of Trussardi’s new line of basics that made its debut at the spring/summer 1996 shows here in October.
Trussardi opened his first T-Stores last year in Seoul, Bangkok and Hong Kong. He plans to open 50 more in Europe and the Far East this year and said he would like to unveil the first U.S. store in New York in 1997.
“The U.S. market is obviously very attractive, but also very delicate. It is a very mature market and because of that we must be very cautious in the way we market T-Store,” the designer said.
Prices of the T-Store collection are competitive with those of DKNY and CK, Trussardi said, adding that he plans to introduce bath and makeup lines in the T-Stores in a few years’ time.
The three collections — Trussardi Sport, Trussardi Jeans and T-Store — are developed and produced by Sosab, a new company set up by Trussardi last year and based in the northern city of Modena. Each line boasts its own creative team overseen by Trussardi and his wife Maria Luisa.
“Our priority is the product,” Trussardi said. “To ensure that the product is of superior quality, we knew we needed to have direct control over production and be able to step in at any time during the production cycle. We also need to react quickly to requests for restocking.”
The designer said he expects sales of the three lines to reach $500 million (800 billion lire) over the next three years. Trussardi expects to generate the bulk of that, some $300 million (500 billion lire), in the Far East, where he already has a strong market share.
The company’s annual turnover is $530 million, including licenses.
Trussardi Jeans was formerly manufactured by Ittierre, which announced last summer that it would not renew its license for the jeans line. Ittierre, which produces jeans and sportswear lines for Versace and Dolce & Gabbana had launched Trussardi Jeans in 1986.
Agenco, which held the license to manufacture the Trussardi Sport line for seven years, stopped production of all its clothing lines last year — around the time the Trussardi license expired. Agenco will probably shut down this year, industry sources say.
Until now, Trussardi Jeans and Trussardi Sport lines have generated about $50 million (80 billion lire) in Europe and $69 million (110 billion lire) in the Far East. The lines are not sold in the U.S.
T-Store is just one symbol of Trussardi’s campaign to inject new life into his label, improve his service to clients and appeal to a younger, hipper customer.
As the free-spending Eighties ground to a halt, Trussardi, like many other Italian designers, knew he needed to adapt to an increasingly price-conscious, discerning consumer. Since then, he has been trying to fashion a fresher image.
Last year the house took on French designer Marc Audibet, formerly of Prada, as a freelance fashion and image consultant. Starting with the fall/winter 1995-96 ad campaigns, Trussardi also shrunk its ubiquitous greyhound logo in a bid to project a more discreet, more product-oriented image.
“Our first cycle of life was everything that had to do with aristocracy and tradition, names and nobility, but we wanted to move away from that. Now we see ourselves as more energetic, faster and brighter than before, more focused on the product than on the label,” Trussardi said.
Three years ago the designer opened a research center in the southeastern Italian city of Brindisi to experiment with new fabrics, raw materials and environmentally friendly packaging.
One upshot of that research is Trussardi’s new pelle stropicciata — featherweight, crumpled sheaths of leather used for jackets. The company has also jumped on the bandwagon of technical fabrics, using neoprene for everything from handbags to evening gowns.
The designer is especially proud of three-dimensional computers that can, in an hour’s time, turn out resin models of bags, trunks and perfume bottles.
Trussardi said his big, image-boosting plans for 1996 also include the long-awaited opening of his first New York showroom. “The showroom will open this February on Fifth Avenue, at a location between 54th and 57th Streets,” Trussardi said, adding that he still had to seal a deal on the property.