MILAN — Sunnei is gearing up to host its biggest show thus far on Sunday, at the Palazzo del Ghiaccio venue here.
Founded in 2016 as a men’s label by Simone Rizzo and Loris Messina, the brand, which introduced women’s wear for the spring 2019 season, will show about 45 looks with a diverse casting that will combine professional models and friends of the house.
“This reflects the way we get inspired,” Rizzo said. “Since the beginning we have looked to our friends, music, travel and personal experiences to find inspiration for our collections, which are a reflection of what we are and how we live.”
In keeping with this vision, Rizzo and Messina developed a fall 2019 lineup strongly influenced by their background yet refreshed with a futuristic vibe.
“We tried to project our social and cultural vision into the future,” Rizzo said.
“It’s a bit ‘Blade Runner,’ but very relaxed and not dark,” added Messina, who revealed that the collection will include pop colors and references to Nineties MTV culture.
“This season, we abandoned our typical ironic images because they tended to become a bit too obvious,” Rizzo said. “Everything is getting more sophisticated.”
Although the design duo tried not to reveal too many details about the collection, they did say it will include a range of pieces — not only outerwear — crafted from padded fabrics, as well as a wide selection of knitwear. “We played a lot with knits,” said Messina, mentioning mohair, felted wool and jacquard designs. “And there is a lot of denim, as usual.”
Rizzo said a lot of effort also went into the development of a full range of accessories. “We finally managed to develop our own sneaker,” he said. “It took a while and it required big investments, but we are very happy with the result. It’s very simple and total white.”
The collection will also include a wide range of bags and small accessories in a range of materials, spanning from leather and suede to PVC and ripstop nylon.
Embracing a different approach compared with most of the brand’s competitors, Sunnei is steering clear of collaborations. “We don’t really believe that launching collaborations is instrumental for us,” Rizzo said. “We are trying to shape our own identity and we think we need to preserve it.”
In order to have more control over the brand, Sunnei is also limiting its wholesale distribution, which is currently managed by Tomorrow Ltd.
“We are currently in about 100 stores and we agreed with Tomorrow that we can add 50 accounts maximum,” Rizzo said. “We want to be in the right stores because we want them to have great sell-throughs. And we are happy to support them with special projects and pop-up initiatives.”
At the same time, the brand is working to beef up its direct distribution both online and in-store.
“We think that fashion schedules don’t reflect the real needs of customers,” Messina said. “Times are too tight and products hit stores when people are not really looking for them.”
For this reason, the company is aiming to have the direct-to-consumer business account for 50 percent of the brand’s sales by 2023. The opening of stores in 2020 — the company currently operates one door in Milan — will be instrumental to reaching this goal.
“The first new store will be in New York because we have a strong community there,” said Rizzo, who said the North American region accounts for 20 percent of the brand’s total business, while Japan and South Korea are the label’s biggest markets.
“Across the globe, our typical customer is an Asian Millennial aged 20 to 25,” Rizzo revealed.
Along with its focus on the men’s business, Sunnei is strategically positioning its women’s wear to be carried in key stores worldwide. For example, the brand’s spring 2019 collection is available exclusively in New York at TriBeCa’s high-end boutique La Garçonne and in London at Browns.