Eleventy is spreading its wings, thanks to a recent financial infusion from its parent company and a Middle Eastern investor.
In October, The Eleventy Group, which was started in 2007 by Marco Baldassari, Paolo Zuntini and Andrea Scuderi, said it had received an undisclosed capital increase underwritten by its parent company, whose corporate structure consists of VEI Capital (an investment vehicle belonging to PFH — Palladio Holding) and a financial group from the Gulf region that it declined to name.
The investment was designed to foster international expansion and accelerate the brand’s retail development.
The impact is already evident. The Milan-based affordable luxury brand recently completed an overhaul of its global flagship on Madison Avenue, will open its first store at the Berkeley Hotel in Knightsbridge in London this week, and will consolidate its two smaller Milan boutiques into a larger, two-story space on the tony Via della Spiga in the spring. Currently, there is a men’s store on S’ant Andrea and a women’s store in Piazza Meda, both of which will close when the larger store opens.
Over the next three years, Eleventy will open stores in other major cities in Europe, North America and the Middle East including Aspen, Colorado, in the spring and a Paris flagship next spring.
“The new resources demonstrate the strong belief of the shareholders in the potential of the brand going forward and will allow us to aim for 100 million euros in turnover by 2026,” the founders said in a statement. Currently, the brand has annual sales of around 50 million euros.
The Madison Avenue store is not Eleventy’s first unit in New York City. In 2018, the brand took a space on Greene Street in SoHo. Although hopes were high, the store never performed to expectations, said Geoff Schneiderman, chief executive officer of Eleventy North America. “We were surprised and discouraged,” he said. “But it never clicked for us.”
Schneiderman said Eleventy had always wanted to have a presence on Madison Avenue, but the rents at that time were “untouchable for a small brand from Italy” and SoHo was more affordable.
But the pandemic changed everything, allowing Eleventy to sublet its SoHo space and snag a prime location at 769 Madison, on the corner of 66th Street.
The store started out as a pop-up in the summer of 2021 to test whether the location would be better suited to the brand. And it was. “We did more business in those six months than we did in two years in SoHo,” Schneiderman said.
That led the company to convert the pop-up to a permanent location and to renovate the space to reflect the brand’s design concept developed by Italian architect Aldo Parisotto of Parisotto + Formenton Architetti. That was completed this fall and the 5,000-square-foot, two-level store is being seen as the brand’s global flagship.
“We were interested in showcasing the brand properly,” Schneiderman said. “To get this space in the new heart of luxury shopping in New York City was a once in a more-than-a-lifetime opportunity,” he said. Neighbors include the new Hermès flagship as well as the Armani/Casa residence and store concept that is being worked on across the street.
Initially the lower level of the store — which was formerly a J. Crew — was used as the brand’s showroom but after the renovation it has been converted into selling space, allowing the women’s and new children’s collection to have their own homes. Children’s debuted for fall in Eleventy’s 24 stores around the world and will begin being wholesaled next year.
The store is open and bright and designed to illustrate what Schneiderman described as the “smart luxury” positioning of the brand. “We’re trying to create a welcoming, unpretentious experience on Madison Avenue,” he said.
The styling of the collection is sophisticated, modern and functional and answers the demands of today’s customer by offering pieces that can be worn for a variety of occasions. Reversible hybrid blazers in wool with removable hoods, jersey jackets and joggers as well as lightweight sweaters, T-shirts and suede sneakers are all on display.
Unlike many of its Italian counterparts such as Brunello Cucinelli, Zegna and others, the collection retails at a lower price point. The reversible blazer, for example, is $2,445 and the opening price point jersey jacket with suede detailing under the collar and cuffs sells for $795. “It’s classic with a youthful touch without being too fast,” he said.
Customers are responding. Schneiderman said since the renovation was completed in September, traffic has increased significantly and the average transaction size has tripled. “The right customer has found the brand,” he said.
Schneiderman credited the investment as a “game changer” for the company. “We’re working on a three-year strategy to elevate the international presence of the brand. When we moved from SoHo to Madison Avenue and saw that it was working, we thought, where else can we find a sophisticated customer?”
The answer was Palm Beach, Florida; Greenwich, Connecticut, and Beverly Hills, where Eleventy first took pop-up spaces to test the waters. All were successful enough to prompt the company to convert those temporary leases into 10-year permanent locations.
“We’re not aggressively growing retail, but if we can find other spaces like that, we would add stores,” Schneiderman said, pointing to the Aspen, London and Milan stores as examples.
He’s quick to point out that wholesale continues to be the main driver of the business. Eleventy is carried at a number of high-end stores around the world including Nordstrom, Harry Rosen and Holt Renfrew in North America, as well as smaller stores such as Martin Patrick 3 and Marissa Collection.
“Wholesale still represents 80 percent of the business,” Schneiderman said. But by opening retail stores in “strategic locations,” it allows the company to showcase its entire offering and its vision.
Overall, the U.S. represents 35 percent of the business and the expectation is that percentage will grow as the brand’s visibility increases.
In addition to the stores, Schneiderman said the brand sees opportunity in expanding its footwear and accessories categories along with women’s, which represents 20 percent of sales.
Eleventy is a play on the word “elevate,” Schneiderman said, and was chosen by the owners to illustrate their goal to be better every day. Thanks to the recent cash infusion, the brand believes that is possible.