MILAN — Classic Italian men’s wear brand Corneliani unveiled the “Corneliani to You” project during men’s fashion week here, which launches the next phase of the company under a new owner, Bahrain-based fund Investcorp, and a new chief executive officer, Paolo Roviera.
“The basic idea was to create a formula to communicate the existing values of the brand without distorting the product, while in an unconventional and innovative way,” said Roviera during an interview at the firm’s stately, frescoed showroom. “We were mindful of everyone’s busy schedules.”
As a result, the company didn’t hold a presentation this season but invested in a communication idea, tapping four different directors to present their visions of the brand in one-and-a-half-minute videos. “You can do this when you are confident in your style,” said the affable Roviera, who was previously ceo at rival Pal Zileri, which is also owned by a Middle Eastern fund, Mayhoola for Investments. “I am happy with the results — four different yet complementary videos,” he said, emphasizing his belief in digital communication.
For example, “Like Suit Like Man,” by Vincent & Kristell shows a man on a business trip whose every change of suit projects him in a different dimension, from France to Los Angeles to New York. The others are “Etienne” by Elena Petitti di Roretos; “Performance-Colour-Geometry” by The Jack Stupid, and “Corneliani” by Marta Vismara.
With Stefano Gaudioso Tramonte, the company’s new general merchandising manager and style director, the company is mulling the idea of another project called “You to Corneliani,” meant to draw people closer to the brand, with initiatives such as tours of the manufacturing plant in Mantua. Roviera and Gaudioso Tramonte said there is no need for a creative director for a brand such as Corneliani. Instead, they set up a new product development office and design office for all categories.
The fall collection was cohesive, offering a plethora of the softest materials, updated with modern techniques. Outerwear was a standout, with a luxury cashmere mélange with a waterproof treatment, or wool beaver updated with the brand’s Woolsphere treatment for a capsule collection of technical performance wool garments.
“Men used to be loyal to their tailor and their barber, and Corneliani is the evolution of that tailor,” said Roviera with a smile.
Investcorp took a majority stake in Corneliani last June, increasing its footprint in the luxury arena. The enterprise value of the deal was calculated at $100 million. The deal is preparatory to an eventual initial public offering and also overcomes succession issues for the storied Italian company.
Carlalberto Corneliani, who founded the brand in 1958 with his late brother Claudio, was succeeded as chairman by Hazem Ben-Gacem, head of Investcorp’s Private Equity activities in Europe.
Corneliani, based in the northern town of Mantua, reported sales of more than 110 million euros, or $122.1 million at average exchange rate, in 2015. “Our commitment is to at least double that figure in five to six years,” said Ben-Gacem upon the acquisition.