As revealed to WWD earlier this year, the Italian retailer strengthened the partnership with the designer by tasking him with the launch of women’s wear, which now flanks the existing men’s offer introduced in 2018 under the Piombo brand.
Debuting on Monday, the women’s range follows the distribution of the men’s counterpart, which is carried at 500 corners installed in the chain’s units in Italy.
During a walk-through at OVS’ extensive showroom in central Milan, Piombo underscored the importance of answering women’s different demands by developing a range of smart separates, as well as making sophistication accessible.
“I think this collection gives the opportunity to every woman to dress in a simple or more eccentric way, depending on her needs,” said Piombo, who is also creative director of OVS overseeing all the retailer’s lines as well as the stores’ interior concepts.
As a result, the versatile collection has a chic, preppy aesthetic with touches of bold color combinations, all enhanced in an advertising campaign shot in Paris. Piombo said the city fascinates him for its natural light and served best the purpose of conveying the sense of allure he wanted to instill in the accessible collection.
Product-wise, the range includes tailored staples as double-breasted coats and checkered blazer jackets as well as a vast assortment of soft sweaters and knits, categories for which the designer wants “to build a library” by rendering them in 60 to 80 color hues and patterns.
Wide-legged denim pants and flared corduroy options are part of the collection with more feminine dresses and skirts, to be styled with accessories encompassing slippers, scarves, bags and jewelry.
Prices for the collection range from around 15 euros for T-shirts and accessories to 80 euros for sartorial pieces and outerwear.
“We’re launching this project only now because it’s not easy to do everything at the same time. It was right to be cautious,” said OVS chief executive officer Stefano Beraldo. “The men’s wear collection worked so well that this launch was quite natural. This project is incredible, even more so at these kind of prices.”
“This is quite a unique approach in our category, because it’s not a one-off collaboration as other players did. It’s a company that has been set up and a brand that remains part of OVS,” echoed Piombo. Incidentally, OVS and Piombo hold a 70 percent and 30 percent stake in the label, respectively.
“It’s an interesting alchemy: the taste and talent of a person used to curate details and with a very clear fashion identity who is called to confront himself with quite the opposite, to interpret the needs of many customers and different tastes,” continued Beraldo. “But that’s the beauty of OVS, the fact that it speaks to everybody, it has a tone of voice that enables us to be credible not only for a certain target but for a universe of customers.”
“Besides the commercial purposes, the women’s wear launch intends to support the retailer in continuing its image elevation and attracting new clusters of consumers to the store — a trend kickstarted by the successful introduction of the Piombo men’s wear range, which sold out in Italy. In particular, customers with a medium to high spending capacity approached the brand, consequentially inducing the company to work to meet higher expectations with the ensuing collections.
“We reached a type of male clientele that before did not approach OVS, or did so sent by their wives to buy kids’ wear. Now they’re purchasing for themselves, too,” Beraldo said.
“But in general, it’s important that we respect the customers we have always had,” the executive continued. “So it’s a double operation: On one hand, we’re trying to keep our longtime customers engaged by constantly improving the offer — which in the last 15 years has strongly evolved — and sometimes even rationalizing it and making it less complicated, while on the other, we’re attracting new ones thanks to Piombo’s work as creative director that confers us an approach to beauty across the board.”
Over the years, OVS has grown to an 8 percent market share from 2 percent. “At the end of 2020 it was 8.1 percent and now 8.4 percent, a growth registered without opening new stores due to the pandemic. So this means that what we did, was appreciated even more,” said Beraldo, underscoring that OVS’ market share for the kids’ wear reaches the double-digit figure.
The chain registers more than 15 million visitors, 4 million of which are considered loyal customers as they return to the store at least six times per year.
Listed on the Milan Stock Exchange since 2015, OVS SpA — which also includes Upim banners — operates around 1,822 stores globally and reported sales of 1.018 billion euros in 2020.
Earlier this year, OVS acquired the financially troubled Stefanel company and some related assets, including 23 stores and the collection archive, and inked a distribution deal with GAP for the Italian market.