The designer’s first collection will bow for spring 2023 and be presented in September during Milan Fashion Week.
Massimo Renon, chief executive officer of the Benetton Group, said he was “especially proud” of Incontri’s arrival because of his “drive, enthusiasm and research,” which will allow the company to surpass the benchmarks achieved over the years.
Benetton’s industrial and creative prowess “has contributed to the rise of fashion sensibility and to the awareness of many social issues in the past 50 years of Italian history,” Renon continued.
The executive, who joined Benetton from Marcolin in April 2020, said Incontri’s arrival “will bring new energy to a history of success passing through a generational change” leading to an “urgent redefinition of the social role of fashion and ready-to-wear.”
As an Italian, Incontri also expressed his pride in joining a company and a brand that “has built its history beyond the product. Similarly to Tod’s, this is a family project that is ethically correct.” The designer was the men’s creative director of Tod’s for five years until 2019. Benetton, he continued, “delivers an accessible and democratic project while respecting top quality.”
Also, mused Incontri, it stands for “values and culture that reflect modern humanism,” as it was a pioneer in embracing inclusion and diversity, as well as sustainability through its timeless and long-lasting designs, as well as a wardrobe of daily essentials. “To simplify is more difficult but more fulfilling,” he said.
Leveraging his architectural background and methodical approach, he said he was interested in tackling the job also from the retail point of view, given the importance of this distribution channel for Benetton. “The brand has always been focused on offering an experience to its customers in its stores.”
Incontri will be in charge of a new communication campaign bowing at the end of August presenting the brand’s fall collection.
“I am aware of and respect the excellent work done in communication over the years, but I aim not to repeat the same. We are building a new chapter in a natural evolution,” the designer explained. Oliviero Toscani famously worked for years with Benetton on its groundbreaking and controversial campaigns.
The spring show will be staged in Milan’s expansive store in Corso Buenos Aires — again highlighting the importance of the group’s retail channel — which will be refurbished. A new accessories, knitwear and sneaker capsule will be part of the collection and immediately available in store.
Benetton’s core and storied business, knits, “beautiful yarns, durable and democratic,” will continue to be relevant also for Incontri, who underscored the brand’s “bold and precise aesthetics” for both the product and the stores.
Asked about his goals, Incontri responded with a metaphor related to architecture, also given how Benetton’s headquarters were designed by Tobia and Afra Scarpa and the building complex of Fabrica, Benetton Group’s communication research center, was restored by Japanese architect Tadao Ando.
“Benetton is like a beautiful palazzo with shut doors that has not shown everything inside yet. I now would like to open its windows and doors, to show how much beauty and culture there is within,” said Incontri, who will also work on Fabrica.
He said meeting Luciano Benetton, with whom he also discussed architecture and art, was a highlight. “He represents the company and the company reflects his vision. Meeting him has given me strength and motivation.”
An architecture graduate from the Politecnico di Milano, Incontri, who launched his namesake brand in 2009, won the men’s edition of the “Who Is on Next?” talent search in 2010 in the accessories category. The designer quickly extended his label to menswear, delivering collections with a strong attention to detail and use of high-end materials.
In 2012, he added a women’s collection, which made its debut as part of the Italian Fashion Chamber’s official fashion week schedule in February 2013. He said he continues to develop his namesake brand, in particular with custom-made designs for artists and performers, although he underscored that his priority is now Benetton.
Through the pandemic, Incontri worked on several projects, including a book with Skira and developing a range of embroidered totes, while creating a capsule of cushions and chairs with Seletti, among others. He also launched with a friend, actress and TV presenter Fiammetta Cicogna, a new sustainable jewelry line, called Inbilico, which employs recycled gold and lab-grown diamonds.
He is also continuing with his artistic project, called “Le Tipe Umane,” which he started a few years ago, posting sketches of different kinds of women and figurines on his personal Instagram account.
In October 2018, Benetton named fashion designer Jean-Charles de Castelbajac its new artistic director, in charge of both the men’s and women’s collections for the brand.
This was a new role and one of the first major steps for the label, following the return of Luciano Benetton as chairman of the group in January that year.
Luciano Benetton is one of the firm’s founders with his siblings Giuliana, Gilberto and the late Carlo.
As reported, Renon told WWD in May at the reopening of the Paris flagship on Place de l’Opéra, that this is “a new era for Benetton,” adding that the company was seeing double-digit growth compared to 2021 and with the aim of “going as close as [they] can to 1 billion euros in net sales” while increasing profitability above 2019 figures.
A factor of success is the increased sell-through and sales per square meters, which he credited to a tightening of retail processes. “As we move more toward direct-to-consumer, we know we have to be effective and timely in what we deliver into our stores,” he said.
Renon revealed that while business has returned to pre-pandemic levels, the proportion of wholesale and direct retail had changed.
“[The latter] has grown to 60 percent of our turnover, through e-commerce and stores like this one, which is very good. This is part of our strategy to be less and less intermediated by third parties, to make Benetton into a brand rather than a clothing company,” including on the production side, he continued.
The group’s physical retailers and own network total some 4,000 stores.
Its homeland of Italy remains Benetton’s largest market, accounting for around 15 percent of its sales, followed by India at 11 percent and after that, South Korea, France and the Iberian peninsula.
The brand has plans to reenter the U.S. market, where it is only present through e-commerce, with the opening of flagships and the support of third-party retail partners.