MILAN — Italian firms Max Mara and Mariella Burani Fashion Group are venturing into hosiery, intimates and beachwear.

Max Mara has branched out with Max Mara Hosiery, a new subsidiary based in Reggio Emilia.

This story first appeared in the June 24, 2002 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

“Hosiery has been neglected by fashion recently, but things are quickly changing,” said Luca Donnini, Max Mara’s marketing manager.

Max Mara Hosiery is designed by a specialized team supervised by fashion coordinator Laura Lusuardi. The collection consists of four groups: Everyday, in a rich, 13-color palette; Fashion, which is more trend-oriented; Benefit, for reshaping and support, and Luxury, with sophisticated, high-end materials such as cashmere.

“For the Fashion collection, we included leopard and pinstriped motifs,” said Donnini.

The first collection will bow this fall. It will be distributed to 80 Max Mara boutiques, out of 500 units worldwide. In the U.S., the line will be available in four of 23 boutiques.

“For the time being, we know the line will definitely be carried by the New York and Chicago stores,” said Donnini.

The line also will be available at main department and specialty stores. Retail prices range from $5.60 to $30.20. The company’s goal is to reach sales of about $25 million in the near future. Dollar figures were converted from the euro at current exchange rates.

“In the next two to three years, we plan to launch innerwear and beachwear lines, as well,” said Donnini.

Mariella Burani Fashion Group, meanwhile, signed an agreement last week with Chiarugi for beachwear and innerwear, which will bow for spring and fall 2003, respectively. Chiarugi, based outside Florence, also produces Emilio Pucci and Guess innerwear and beachwear. Burani’s beachwear line was formerly produced by Manifattura di Fara.

Lara Castellacci, production manager at Chiarugi, said the line is in tune with Mariella Burani’s style. The spring collection will blend flower patterns, contrasting colors, ethnic themes and double fabrics with elastic tulle.

“There is an underlying nostalgia for the Thirties and Forties, and the collection is inspired by a nomadic woman — passionate, strong and romantic,” Castellacci said.

Besides Mariella Burani boutiques, the beachwear collection will be available in department and specialty stores, with plans for about 150 doors in Italy and 100 doors for the rest of Europe and the U.S.

“Our target is to reach 500 sales points in a year,” said Franco Marianelli, Chiarugi’s finance director. Wholesale prices will be around $66.20.

Chiarugi registered sales of $17 million in 2001 and expects to reach sales of $17.9 million this year. Mariella Burani registered a 52 percent increase in sales in the first quarter, reaching $74.4 million.

In the past few months, Burani Group added Revedi, an Italian outlet chain, and ITM, a Como-based silk mill, to a constellation of brands that includes its in-house line Mariella Burani, Mila Schon, Sahza and Stephen Fairchild, as well as accessories companies Braccialini, Deimutti, Mafra, Cerruti, Mandelli and Baldinini.””

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