MILAN — Credibility and authenticity are key words in Stefano Canali’s vocabulary, and he carefully applies them to the strategy he has been mapping out for the family-owned business.
The president and chief executive officer of Canali is well aware of how important it is to stay in tune with the times, to be flexible and quick to respond to the needs of the market, and he has taken steps to keep the brand relevant and the business healthy.
“We are evolving our formalwear and this collection is a key step in our interpretation of sartorial, without overturning our brand to maintain our credibility,” Canali said. “But we cannot stand still,” he added, noting that for spring 2023 the brand introduced a new sartorial concept: a casual yet sophisticated “smartorial.”
To be sure, under his lead Canali has seen a remarkable growth trajectory in a competitive arena, with fashion designer brands expanding their menswear collections while storied tailoring labels faced waning demand for traditional sartorial looks for years — obviously even more so during the pandemic. Canali, however, has been differentiating its offer, presenting lighter, more casual constructions and materials, mixing and matching styles and blurring the differences between formal and informal.
Revenues in 2021 amounted to 141 million euros and Canali expects sales in 2022 to total 172 million euros. In the first five months of the year, revenues were up 13 percent.
As of May 31, compared with the end of May 2021, sales were up 73 percent, with all regions growing. Sales in the Americas, which include the U.S., Canada and Mexico, rose 143 percent.
The U.S. is Canali’s most important market and the company is planning to open a store on Madison Avenue in New York in the second half.
The only market that showed a decrease in the first five months of the year was the Asia Pacific, which was down 28 percent due to the lockdowns enforced to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
While staying away from specific predictions, Canali imagines the restrictions will ease and the company plans to open three new stores in China, in Urumqi, Chengdu and Beijing, in the second half of the year.
In 2020, the company took control of 10 boutiques from its franchised partners in China. In the fall last year, to boost the luxury brand’s visibility and presence across the Chinese market, Canali teamed up with one of the country’s most interesting emerging brands to develop a capsule collection: 8on8. The Shanghai-based label was founded in 2017 by Central Saint Martins men’s fashion graduate Li Gong. The capsule was called Canali Travels With 8on8.
Other relevant store openings are planned for Paris in the second half, with two new units slated for Avenue George V and Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré.
In addition to the 190 Canali stores, the brand is carried in 1,000 points of sales in more than 100 countries.
Wholesale orders for fall 2022 rose 146 percent, compared with fall 2021 orders. In particular, orders in the Americas climbed 312 percent, Canali said.
The orders for spring 2023 wholesale pre-collection equaled 90 percent of the spring 2022 orders that at the time included the pre- and main collections.
“Sobriety, elegance and style, never over the top,” were some of the qualities Canali attributed to the brand’s style. The tailoring shift has been “decisive” but not too strong, he contended.
While evolving its looks, Canali has seen an increase of made-to-measure demand by 130 percent.
With five production centers in Italy, Canali also touted the company’s “short supply chain, which is a competitive advantage since it provides the opportunity to offer a better service to clients, as well as efficient reactions and timely shipments.”
He was especially enthusiastic about the range of the spring 2023 collection. This was presented in Milan’s San Barnaba cloisters, where the company recreated a Ligurian scene to convey the brand’s message, presenting a relaxed collection, surrounded by carts offering freshly squeezed lemonade, ice cream and souvenir postcards.
Tangerine- and aquamarine-colored open-neck shirts were paired with short suits. Outerwear focused on the overshirt and Shacket — a Canali staple — in suede, linen and denim paired with chinos, trousers or jeans. They are produced in technical fabrics with a matte finish. Knitwear took its cue from the fishing shores, with sailor-striped two-tone boatneck and woven crewneck sweaters in luxurious cotton and silk blends. Polo shirts came in breathable crisp cotton with leather details.