MILAN — Storytelling has become a must in luxury communication and Canali certainly has lots to tell, with its more than 85 years of history.
The Italian men’s wear company on Tuesday will launch a new web site under the Anthology moniker, which will include around 70 videos and 30 articles and images. President and chief executive officer Stefano Canali is quick to point out that the project is “not meant to be self-celebratory,” but rather it is a realistic tale of the development of the family-owned brand with “some facets that can still be discovered.”
The platform, in English, Italian and Chinese, will be divided into sections: Family, Vision, Crafts, People, Places, Heritage and Canalipedia.
With Anthology, the executive hopes to send a positive message in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, looking back at how the company has reacted to other difficulties and outside changes in the past that had a strong impact on business.
“Canali was founded after the weaving company where my grandfather [Giovanni] worked had to close in 1933, leaving 5,000 people unemployed,” recalled the ceo.
“My grandfather joined forces with his brother [Giacomo], who had a small tailor shop, and started to create men’s wear with about 100 employees until World War II. After that, the second generation restarted with my father and his brothers [Eugenio, Giuseppe and Genesio, sons of Giovanni] producing raincoats.”
Canali further changed its product offer in the Sixties, easing into more formal and sartorial designs.
Most recently, and before the pandemic, Canali diversified with two additional lines flanking Canali 1934 — Exclusive and Black Edition — a structure crystalized with the fall 2020 season. “Differentiating the offer has helped to manage different needs and clients,” he said. Asked about tailored clothing given the pandemic and the new work from home culture, he said that the concept of formal looks has been evolving for a while, changing from rigid “uniforms” for work to lighter, more casual constructions and materials. “The differences between formal and informal have been much less marked in time, for a smart casual of mix and match,” he argued.
“Nothing is ever guaranteed, but we must be patient and if there is the wish to continue to invest, take on some risks — always in line with the brand’s DNA — and question yourself with a clear strategy, one can succeed,” Canali affirmed. “The pandemic is absolutely democratic [hitting with no boundaries] but companies that have a structural solidity must continue to press on the accelerator.”
He said the pandemic heightened the importance of people and in the videos offered on the Anthology site, employees and management from around the world flank members of the Canali family to talk about the company. “They speak with no filters and the message arrives directly, strong and genuine,” he explained. The company now employs 1,500 people, of which 1,100 are in Italy.
Canali spoke of a further digital expansion in 2021 and in China, where the company in May took control of 10 boutiques from its franchised partners. Business is recovering slowly everywhere, with the exception of China, he said, “which has already returned to its pre-COVID performance,” and is showing further growth potential.
In terms of brick-and-mortar, Canali is relocating its New Bond Street store in London to a space that the executive described as being “more prestigious, in a corner unit, and more modern, in a building that has been totally renovated.” The new unit will allow the brand to install more functional and modern digital tools, he said.