MILAN — Signaling the importance of the Japanese market for Valentino, the Rome-based luxury house will hold a runway show in Tokyo on Nov. 27 to present its men’s and women’s pre-fall 2019 collection. This is the first time the two ready-to-wear divisions will be presented together on the runway and it is the first show the company will hold in Tokyo since the Eighties.

“I have always been fascinated by the Japanese idea of beauty as imperfection and permanent transformations; I think it embodies the modern vision of beauty,” said creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli. “This country has always used tradition as a boost to understand and travel to the future. My intention today is to establish a respectful connection between our two cultures.”

Marking the event, Valentino’s flagship boutique at Ginza Six will be temporarily transformed into a new generation concept store conceived by Piccioli and Sarah Andelman, the former creative director of Colette. The venue will carry unique products conceived especially for the store. There will also be pieces created in collaboration with local artists, artisans and brands. They will be exhibited in a visual display that will be unveiled the day before the show on Nov. 26.


Valentino’s Ginza Six flagship.  Courtesy

“Japan has always been an important market for Valentino and now more than ever it continues to be a point of reference for our business globally,” said chief executive officer Stefano Sassi. “Where better to celebrate both the launch of a new collection and the launch of a new retail concept?”

The last runway show Valentino held for resort was in May 2017 in New York, followed by presentations in January and May, again in New York.

Last year, Valentino revenues rose 5 percent to 1.16 billion euros, compared with 1.11 billion euros in 2016. At constant exchange, revenues gained 7 percent.

The growth last year was mostly organic, as the group opened only five stores in 2017, reaching 180. Commenting on the results, Sassi in May said men’s wear showed a strong performance, accounting for 15 percent of sales. “It has a higher visibility now and a good distribution, and it still has growth potential,” he elaborated.

Women’s accessories accounted for 50 percent of sales, and the younger Valentino Red line between 8 and 10 percent. Ready-to-wear represented between 25 and 30 percent.

Japan and South Korea represented 10 percent of total sales. Sassi pointed to “relevant investments in Japan,” with the unveiling of stores in Omotesando in 2016 and Ginza last year, the main opening in 2017.

After a strong focus on China for years, luxury groups are once again turning their attention to Japan. According to the Altagamma and Bain & Co. Worldwide Market Monitor update released in June, sales of personal luxury goods in Japan this year are seen growing 5 percent, boosted by tourist spending, in particular from Chinese and South Korean customers, coupled with strong local growth. At constant exchange, growth is expected to stand at between 6 and 8 percent. The study sees Tokyo and Osaka “booming” despite partial redirection of spending on luxury experiences. It also states that local influencers and word of mouth are key drivers for tastes and purchases of younger generations. In the earlier October forecast for 2017, revenues in Japan for the sector were pegged at 22 billion euros.

As reported, Dior plans to stage its first men’s pre-fall runway show with a collection designed by Kim Jones scheduled to bow in Tokyo on Nov. 30. Bottega Veneta is planning the opening of a flagship in Ginza, its biggest in Asia, by the end of the year. In May last year, Nicolas Ghesquière staged Louis Vuitton’s cruise 2018 show in Kyoto.

Valentino also exclusively shared with WWD a preview of the pre-spring 2019 ad campaign photographed by Juergen Teller, featuring Mariacarla Boscono and Adut Akech, and lensed in Rome in the city’s Trastevere area.


An image from Valentino’s pre-spring 2019 ad campaign.  Juergen Teller

Valentino has been controlled by the Qatar-based Mayhoola since 2012 and Sassi in May said an initial public offering is “not a priority” now. “The project does not exist, we are seeing very important growth and a potential that has yet to be fully expressed and we have the potential to reach very important results. We opened and closed [the IPO] parenthesis. Period. Our attention is all on growth. We’ve had a strong and intense ride for five, six years, and we now have a size that gives the brand visibility, credibility and the necessary strength to tackle the market.” Sassi underscored that “the attention is focused on industrial activities, continuing in a process that has been surely successful and that can be even more relevant, focusing on growth, quality, quality of distribution, of the style statement and of the project and its modernity. All that has made us successful so far.”

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