TURIN — With their unique heritage, each of the brands in BasicNet’s portfolio has a story to tell and the Turin-based group is succeeding in evolving the labels through a contemporary lens.
This evolution will be on display at Pitti Uomo, where Superga will be fronted by model-author Emily Ratajkowski, named the brand’s global ambassador last year, following the likes of Hailey Bieber and Alexa Chung. Robe di Kappa will show at the men’s international trade show this season for the first time, as Lorenzo Boglione, vice president of sales at the group, told WWD he plans to expand the brand globally, unveiling a “more refined” collection in Florence.
The young executive is the son of BasicNet founder Marco Boglione, who conceived the group in 1994, publicly listed on the Milan Stock Exchange since 1999, as a marketplace. In addition to Superga and Robe di Kappa, BasicNet owns the Kappa, Sebago, Jesus Jeans, K-Way, Sabelt and Briko brands.
Stemming from the storied traditional clothing company Maglificio Calzificio Torinese, which was founded in 1916, BasicNet doesn’t produce or distribute the collections from its brands. Billing itself as a “fully web-integrated company,” through a digitally advanced platform, it acts as a marketplace where manufacturers and distributors meet to do business. In particular, BasicNet designs and develops its labels’ collections, then the company signs licensing agreements with international producers and distributors, which receive from BasicNet all they need to manufacture and sell the products, from R&D to global marketing.
Boglione believes BasicNet is “more about iconic products than pure fashion. Our history is different, we develop products and collaborations, but we don’t have a creative director. That said, K-Way for example held a show in Milan during men’s fashion week in January, and to be further connected to the city, a new headquarters will open by the end of the year, with an official unveiling likely to take place in January.
“We need our own space in MiIan that can reflect our way of being, and it will be very similar to our space in Turin,” Boglione said. The sprawling headquarters here blend history and archives with new modern concepts, such as a vegetable garden, a gym and a canteen.
Asked about BasicNet’s marketplace model, Boglione touts its modernity “in a world where the distances are expanding and where it is increasingly more complicated to approach markets directly.”
To be sure, the company has been growing steadily. In the first quarter of the year, BasicNet’s aggregated sales amounted to 277.5 million euros, up 28 percent compared with 216.7 million euros in the first three months of 2021. Consolidated sales amounted to 84.6 million euros, up 26 percent from the first quarter last year. This figure includes 17.4 million euros in royalties from licenses, up 38.3 percent compared with the same period in 2021, and direct sales of 67 million euros, a 23.1 percent gain. In the period, earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization totaled 14 million euros, climbing 55.6 percent, and operating profit jumped 77.5 percent to 10.8 million euros.
Boglione pointed to “an enormous growth” in revenues in the Americas that began last year and where sales in the first three months rose 90.8 percent. The Middle East and Africa region in the quarter was up 42.5 percent, and Europe, which represents around 64 percent of aggregated revenues, was up 10.4 percent. Asia and Oceania, representing 8.4 percent of the total, grew 35 percent. “We are not really exposed to China,” noted Boglione, speaking of the slowdown in the region due to the pandemic.
In particular, he said sportswear and accessories brand Kappa has seen a major jump in sales in the U.S. over the past five to six years. Founded in Turin in 1967, the brand is known for its Kombat jersey and is recognizable through its signature logo of the “Omini di Kappa,” a naked man and a woman seated with their backs to one another — also telegraphing the unisex styles of the designs, and which appears today on the uniforms of the best football clubs’ players, Formula 1 drivers and athletes in general.
In May, the brand unveiled a multiyear sponsorship deal with the U.S. ski, freeski and snowboard teams, as reported, starting with the 2022-23 season. Kappa will also continue to be the U.S. ski and snowboard teams’ official outfitter for the 2026 Winter Olympics, to be held in Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo, and at the Winter Games in 2030. The Italian sportswear brand will be providing technical suits to the American national team in all domestic competitions and during the FIS World Cup events, and Boglione expects these agreements to provide additional visibility to Kappa in the U.S.
“It’s a very important investment and strategic at a global level, the ski market is bigger in the U.S. than in Europe,” he offered. “It’s fundamental to be well-positioned there as so many markets look up to the U.S. as a point of reference.”
BasicNet is expanding the American shoe brand Sebago into more of a lifestyle label, as well as opening stores. Coming up next is Milan, he said. While customers may be drawn to the brand’s signature products, “within stores, the more space you gain, the stronger you are and you sell more, and you are less dependent on seasonality,” he contended. This is also happening for K-Way, which has been growing its product offer from the core windbreaker.
K-Way has just inked a partnership with Bluebell Group, which operates more than 150 brands in Asia, and a new store opening is planned for October in Hong Kong at Pacific Place. Bluebell will also operate K-Way’s e-shop.