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Johnstons of Elgin

Johnstons of Elgin is turning 220 years old this year but, of late, a start-up feeling has been flowing through the Scottish mill, which is looking beyond its private label business to build a luxury lifestyle brand under creative director Alan Scott.

“We’ve never unlocked our potential from a design point of view. This is about expressing who we are,” said Simon Cotton, chief executive officer of the family-owned mill, which was founded in 1797 and produces product for luxury brands including Burberry, Hermès and Vivienne Westwood.

“We’re not going to step away from private label but having a brand will allow us to develop the business and showcase our new technologies,” said Cotton.

In addition to supplying the big names, Johnstons is a Windsor family favorite, with a royal warrant from Prince Charles and pride of place in the closet of toddler Princess Charlotte, who is regularly snapped wearing cardigans and hats from the brand’s own-label collection.

Scott’s debut efforts will be on show at Pitti Uomo, at Premium in Berlin, and in February during London Fashion Week, with an event set to take place at the company’s store on London’s Bond Street.

The designer, who took over earlier this year and who has previously held design director roles at Loro Piana, Trussardi, Vestimenta and Donna Karan, said his aims for the new lifestyle brand are simple. He wants to focus on tradition, quality and innovation: Johnstons is one of the few remaining vertical mills in the U.K. that works with raw, undyed cashmere, fine woolen fibers and vicuna. It has also embraced the latest Japanese technology to create products such as 30-gauge knits as fine as tissue paper.

He’s also putting a big emphasis on texture and color, with some jacquards and patterns recalling the designs in Elgin’s famous gothic cathedral. Scott said he’s adding cashmere gifts and layering precious luxury pieces such as cashmere dressing gowns into the collection. The latter, priced at 1,500 pounds, or $1,780, is one of the more expensive items; most prices hover around 250 to 350 pounds, or $300 to $415.

Scott has introduced tailoring, including cashmere coats and trousers, as he seeks to shift the perception of the business from its trademark category — it sells cashmere sweaters and accessories at stores including Harrods, Harvey Nichols, Fortnum & Mason and Liberty — to lifestyle brand.

He stressed that Johnston’s shift into lifestyle is not a rebranding but rather a move to appeal to new customers “who don’t know the Johnstons backstory. We have our own DNA and we’re part of the British economy. We’re 220 years old, but we can be new to a lot of people.” — SAMANTHA CONTI

 

Roy Roger’s + Liverano & Liverano

Roy Roger’s, the Italian denim label controlled by Sevenbell Group, has teamed with tailoring house Liverano & Liverano to develop a capsule collection to be launched at Pitti Uomo.

The capsule includes a jeans style crafted from a Japanese denim fabric dyed with natural indigo and developed in four variations: rigid raw, dark wash, scratched dark wash and distressed stone wash.

“We had been considering doing something with a tailoring shop for a long time because there was so much talk about tailored denim but no brand was really developing an authentic sartorial project,” said Sevenbell group chief executive officer Guido Biondi. “So we decided to do something concrete to bridge the denim and tailoring worlds and we asked Antonio Liverano [owner of Liverano & Liverano] to express his point of view on denim.”

Biondi highlighted the fact that Roy Roger’s didn’t sacrifice traditional denim constructions but embellished the pants in the capsule with sartorial details.

For example, the belt is thinner like those in tailored pants; the stitching is made with a green yarn, Liverano’s signature hue; the belt loops are inserted in the waist seam and the pockets feature a curved silhouette cut by hand by Liverano, while the lining is realized by using a printed cotton from the tailoring house’s archives.

“We chose to team up with Liverano because we are both historic Florentine companies,” explained Biondi, noting that Liverano and Roy Roger’s were founded in the same Tuscan city in 1948 and 1952, respectively.

“Denim is the most vividly possible way of conveying the impression of crisp, comfortable relaxation: the same feelings that every one of our suits should transmit to the wearer,” said Liverano. “The collaboration with Roy Roger’s also stems from this affinity, superbly synthesizing two realities and two visions that are only apparently distant.”

The capsule will retail from 320 euros, or $333 at current exchange rate, to 390 euros, or $406.  Each pair of jeans comes with special packaging consisting of a case made of horsehair, which is traditionally used for the inside constructions of tailored jackets.

Roy Roger’s collections are sold in about 1,000 stores across Italy, Japan, the Netherlands and Korea. The brand operates flagships in Florence, Rome, Forte dei Marmi and Milan.

“We aim to expand our presence in the Far East and the collaboration with Liverano, who is particularly [popular] among Asian customers, is instrumental to reach this goal,” said Biondi, adding that the company is about to open shops-in-shop in Amsterdam and Japan, where Roy Roger’s will offer a bespoke service. — ALESSANDRA TURRA

 

Golden Goose Deluxe Brand

Golden Goose Deluxe Brand, the Venice-based accessible luxury label founded by creative directors Alessandro Gallo and Francesca Rinaldo, is making its debut at Pitti Uomo with a special event to be held at Florence’s Stazione Leopolda on Tuesday. The event will fete the 10th anniversary of Golden Goose’s Superstar sneaker, which was launched in 2007.

For the occasion, the brand will present a limited edition of its distressed shoe style, which will be also celebrated through a short movie showcasing the craftsmanship behind each footwear piece developed by the company. The short film will be screened at the event, which will include a performance inspired by the world of American sportswear.

“With this event we want to showcase the core values of our brand and also fete the anniversary of our iconic sneakers with our first 100 clients,” said Roberta Benaglia, chief executive officer of Style Capital, the private equity fund that holds a minority stake in Golden Goose. In 2015, mid-market investment company Ergon Capital Partners III acquired a majority stake in the brand, which sells its collections to 750 multi-brand stores in the world — 250 of them are located in Italy while the remaining 500 are overseas.

“The United States is the market which is currently growing more and faster,” said Benaglia, revealing that the U.S. generates revenues of 10 million euros, or $10.4 million at current exchange rate. “We expect to reach revenues of 15 million euros [$15.6 million] in 2017 and 30 million [$31.2 million] in three years.”

In the first quarter of 2017, Golden Goose, which opened a store in New York’s SoHo neighborhood in 2015, will inaugurate its second Manhattan boutique on Madison Avenue, along with a flagship in Los Angeles’ Melrose area. A unit in Miami is expected to bow in the second half of 2017, while the brand is looking for locations in San Francisco, Dallas and Houston, where Golden Goose hopes to open units in 2018.

The brand is also expanding in the Far East. Golden Goose, which already operates 18 shops-in-shop in Korea, expects to open 12 more within three years; one will open at Shanghai’s Plaza 66 in January. The brand already operates a door in China, where it unveiled a store at the Taikoo Li Sanlitun shopping mall in Beijing in December.

While the company will limit distribution in Italy to maintain exclusivity, Benaglia said Golden Goose will expand its business across Germany, France, the Benelux and the Scandinavian countries.

Benaglia also confirmed rumors on the upcoming exit of Ergon from the company.

“Since they invested in Golden Goose in 2015, the company posted revenues of 100 million euros [$104 million,] with 32 million euros [$33.3 million] in operating margins, which means that Ergon reached its goals quicker than expected,” explained Benaglia, who cited Permira, Carlyle and General Atlantic as the entities interested in acquiring Ergon’s stake in Golden Goose. “The takeover will take place in the first part of 2017,” said Benaglia, highlighting that Style Capital will guarantee continuity of the current business strategy.

In addition, Benaglia revealed that Style Capital is targeting more acquisitions in the fashion industry.

“We are currently looking into a contemporary niche brand producing in Italy with revenues of 20 million euros [$20.9 million] and a good positioning in France and the United States,” said Benaglia, declining to reveal the name of the company.

Previously, Benaglia tried to acquire contemporary label MSGM from manufacturing group Paoloni, which controls the brand along with its founder and creative director Massimo Giorgetti. “I think MSGM is a bit stuck — its revenues are stable at 36 million euros [$37.5 million],” said Benaglia. “I think they really need an investor to develop their business in Asia, especially Korea, and in the United States.” — ALESSANDRA TURRA

 

Carlo Volpi

Born in a small town close to Florence, in 1998 Carlo Volpi relocated to London where he obtained a Bachelor of Arts in textiles at Goldsmiths College and a few years later a Masters of Arts from The Royal College of Art.

“After graduation, I started consulting for other brands but I had the feeling that I was missing something and so I tried to launch my own label in 2014,” said Volpi, who won the men’s edition of the “Who Is on Next?” talent search last June, presenting a bold collection of colorful knitwear pieces combining Italian craftsmanship with a British frisky aesthetic.

On Thursday, Volpi will unveil his latest range with an event at Florence’s Stazione Leopolda.

“It won’t be a classic runway show,” he said. “There will be models, but it will be a sort of performance.”

For the fall 2017 season, Volpi tried to subvert the clichés linked to the world of knitwear, “which is often seen as something Old School,” he said, by developing a collection which pays homage to “very lively old ladies.” This includes fashion icon Iris Apfel and the New York-based Sally Lipman, who after the loss of her husband became the legendary “Disco Sally,” a nickname she was given from those populating Studio 54 in the Seventies and Eighties.

“The pieces are infused with a British feel from the Nineties and stitches typical of heritage knitwear are mixed with contemporary tones, modern silhouettes and thermo-stitched details,” said Volpi, who worked a color palette including black combined with bold hues, such as red, orange and turquoise.

All the pieces are crafted from merino wool by Italian specialist Zegna Baruffa, and are cut in oversized, baggy silhouettes. Prints include pills to treat blood pressure and diabetes, as well as images of old ladies wearing opulent fur coats and sunglasses.

The average retail price is between 600 euros, or $628 euros at current exchange rate, and 650 euros, or $681.

“Since the launch of the brand I’ve just sold online but from this upcoming season I would like to develop a consistent distribution in multi-brand stores,” Volpi said.

As the most recent winner of  “Who Is on Next?” the London-based designer is also presenting at Pitti a capsule collection realized in collaboration with Italian outerwear company Herno. Beginning this season, the company will offer the winners of the Herno Award, which is part of the “Who Is on Next?” project, the opportunity to be creative directors of the Herno Untitled line for two seasons.

“I loved working with Herno because they gave me carte blanche to develop the project,” said Volpi, explaining that he was inspired by professional moto racers’ jackets for his collection. It includes padded biker styles and bombers combining knitted wool and leather with printed and jacquard patches. — ALESSANDRA TURRA

 

Sulvam

Teppei Fujita, a 32-year-old former patternmaker for Yohji Yamamoto, is the mind behind edgy Tokyo-based label Sulvam.

The brand, now in its seventh season, is staging a runway show at the Stazione Leopolda on Thursday as part of a special collaboration between Pitti Uomo and Tokyo Fashion Week organizers.

Over the past few seasons, Fujita has sent out clothes with large and loose proportions like wide-legged paper bag pants and slouchy knitwear with a grungy feel. Perhaps a nod to the hours he spent cutting patterns for one of Japan’s greatest living designers, the Tokyo Fashion Award winner prefers raw, unfinished edges and deconstructed looks: his jackets appear to have been ripped apart and stitched back together with rough seams. Fujita’s preview for fall features a pinstriped jacket and pants combo with frayed hems — these were styled with a baggy railroad-striped shirt.

“I like to resuscitate the fabric, I like to let the fabric go and lead it,” said the designer, who was born in Chiba, a seaside prefecture just east of Tokyo. “I would like to show that there is a way to make cool men’s clothes without precise tailoring.…I have seen many Tokyo brands in Tokyo and in Paris [that do street clothes] and I am not like them. I make luxury clothes.”

Although he graduated from Bunka Fashion College, Japan’s answer to Central Saint Martins, Fujita said his time with Yamamoto represented his true education.

“I didn’t learn anything from school so he taught me everything, from pattern making and how to use a sewing machine. The Sulvam brand and I are now here because of him,” said Fujita, whose brand has already snagged accounts including Lane Crawford and Barneys New York. “I think I work like him. Creating things by destroying things. But since I work alone and do everything [plan the fabric, design and make the pattern etc.], this part is different from him.”

While Fujita is forthcoming about how he approaches his work, he’s mum on his inspiration this season. The designer doesn’t adhere to themes: he seems more much more interested in letting others interpret his clothes.

Instead, he has a simple request: “Please look at my clothes and tell me what you feel.” — AMANDA KAISER

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