MILAN — Trussardi’s new chief executive officer Maela Mandelli sounds energized, striking an upbeat note about kicking off 2020 with the Beautiful Minds project. “We decided to unveil it at Pitti Uomo because of the event’s visibility and scope,” Mandelli explained during her first comprehensive interview at the sprawling Palazzo Trussardi, overlooking Milan’s storied La Scala theater.
The first collection will be designed by Giorgio Di Salvo, creative director of United Standard, who last year worked on the brand’s Archive + Now capsules. “We think his strong passion and creativity, his prints and graphics are a perfect fit for Trussardi,” Mandelli said.
Mandelli joined Trussardi at the end of September, following the acquisition last year of a controlling stake in the storied brand by Italian independent asset management company QuattroR, which specializes in corporate restructuring. As reported, Tomaso Trussardi remained chairman of the company.
Financial details were not disclosed, but Andrea Morante, chairman of QuattroR, said Trussardi’s capital and financial structure would be strengthened through a capital increase of about 50 million euros.
Mandelli spent six years in Amsterdam with PVH Corp., where she ultimately held the position of managing director of the Netherlands, Greece, Middle East and Africa. Before that, she was global sales director at Diesel and she also worked at Nike for 10 years, becoming in 2007 regional apparel business director of the Europe, Middle East and Africa region.
Concurrently, Giuseppe Pinto was named chief operating officer, after having held the same position at Sergio Rossi, and having also worked for Pomellato.
“We think we will work with several beautiful minds going forward, different artists, photographers, musicians,” Mandelli said.
The executive is tasked with relaunching the brand and restructuring its distribution globally, leveraging its history, tradition and storied codes, including the symbol of the greyhound. The Leila bag, marked by the elongated flap with metal tip in the shape of the Trussardi Levriero detail is among the brand’s recent best-selling accessories.
“We like to work with the reinterpretation of the greyhound — Millennials and the new generations approach the brand in a different way, they see it as almost vintage,” Mandelli said. “We want to conquer their mind-set without alienating our core customers.” To this end, the company has been investing in digital communication and content, as well as its social media platform.
Despite Trussardi’s leather expertise, Mandelli said the company’s business shifted over the past few years toward denim, growing to account for most of the sales. “This category, accessories and ready-to-wear should each represent one-third of revenues,” she said. “We had lost a focus on accessories, and we are working to reconquer this division.” Men’s and women’s each account for 50 percent of sales.
Mandelli has been reviewing the company’s supply chain, improving the quality of materials, finishings, fabrics and accessories — from buttons to other details. She has also been reviewing and closing the different sister lines under the main Trussardi brand to emphasize the latter and the Trussardi Jeans label. “There was too much confusion,” she admitted. Leveraging her past experience and her knowledge of the denim industry, Mandelli has been fine-tuning fits and washes to obtain a recognizable product, she said.
The company counts around 300 stores, and Mandelli has been closing some nonperforming doors that were not in line with the new course of the brand, “maximizing the existing network, and working on improving distribution. Italy remains Trussardi’s main market, followed by Russia. “The plan is to open new stores in Europe,” and Asia and the U.S. will also be areas of focus, she said.
Sales in 2018 totaled 130 million euros, and the restructuring dented the growth in 2019 — by choice, said Mandelli, who expects revenues to grow in 2020. The company has already seen an improvement in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization in the third quarter, after losses in the first quarter, she said, and is expecting a “neutral” EBITDA in the last quarter of the year.
Going forward, Trussardi will also continue to build its licenses, which include fragrances with Gruppo Angelini; eyewear with De Rigo; watches with Morellato, and a home collection with Luxury Living Group.