A T-shirt from the A|X St_Art capsule

MILAN — Giorgio Armani’s A|X Armani Exchange label is making its debut at Pitti Uomo this season with a booth that will be animated by both freestyle basketball and live painting performances. At the trade show, the brand will present its men’s and women’s spring collections inspired by the Nineties, which will echo in the oversize silhouettes, Armani’s signature pastel tones, bold logos and an overall unisex feel. Stressing the nod to the decade, the Iconic range will consist of re-editions of key pieces from the brand’s first collection in 1991, while the ST_Art capsule will feature T-shirts created in collaboration with international young street artists. The label also will embrace a sustainable approach by unveiling a capsule of pieces crafted from only recyclable materials.

Here, Giorgio Armani opens up to WWD about the relaunch of the brand, the key relevance of Pitti Uomo and the business strategy he developed for A|X.

WWD: What’s the strategy behind the relaunch of A|X?

Giorgio Armani: In keeping with the recent reorganization of the Armani brand portfolio, I thought that A|X would represent the perfect third asset of the Armani universe, along with Giorgio Armani and Emporio Armani. I imagined it as an interesting point of reference for a broad range of international costumers, a sort of first step into the Armani world. In 2014, we took full control of the joint venture, which used to manage the production and distribution of the brand. Since then, we have succeeded in increasing the collections’ unique elements and in focusing on the quality, aligning the label to the Armani lifestyle universe.

WWD: How do you think the global cultural context and the market have changed since the introduction of this line in the Nineties?

G.A.: The A|X line was born in 1991 from a pioneering idea. Taking inspiration from the street, before this became a major trend, I created a line of easy-to-wear pieces with affordable prices for the new generations and for those who are young at heart. The collection was irreverent and pop, filled with pieces reflecting the effortless, laid-back attitude of the new generation that I was observing in cities such as New York, London and Tokyo. Over the years, the spirit of the line hasn’t changed, while we continued to innovate it. Today, A|X talks to a metropolitan public with ready-to-wear pieces and accessories which are in sync with the fast-paced rhythm of the street, loyal to the spontaneity and energy rooted in the Armani DNA. A|X takes inspiration from a lifestyle influenced by youth cultures, featuring a strong sense of belonging, which express themselves through a specific language, attitude and way of dressing.

A|X Icon T-shirt

A|X Icon T-shirt  Courtesy Photo

WWD: Why did you decide to present the collection at Pitti Uomo?

G.A.: Pitti Uomo is an international platform that officially opens the season and covers all the men’s fashion categories, from tailoring to sports wear, from streetwear and denim to designer brands. It seemed the ideal context to powerfully reaffirm the presence and identity of A|X Armani Exchange. I’m very attached to Florence, where back in 1974 I showed with other brands at Palazzo Pitti’s Sala Bianca. And I think that with Pitti, Florence managed to reinforce its role in the men’s fashion industry through a show that is getting more and more important, significantly increased its cultural relevance and became able to attract people from all over the world.

WWD: In terms of markets, where will you focus your efforts for A|X?

G.A.: As it always happens with the Armani collections and products, the focus is on the global customer who can live in any part of the world. More than looking at specific markets, we are focusing in each market on destinations that the potential A|X customer picks to create engaging shopping experiences — which I mean not only places where he can buy certain products, but which are in line with his urban lifestyle. In keeping with this strategy, we are reorganizing and streamlining our entire retail network to maximize the potentials of the brand.