“Evolution, not revolution.” This is the mantra of Philippe Model’s newly appointed CEO Andrea Pesaresi, who joined the footwear company on Dec. 1, signing a five-year contract. The appointment is part of the brand’s internationalization process launched in July, when Alessandro Benetton’s private-equity group 21 Investimenti acquired a majority stake in the sneaker label.
Pesaresi has more than three decades of experience in the luxury industry, having worked 25 years for the Ermenegildo Zegna Group, where he was brand and license director, with particular focus on the Z Zegna line.
“I really liked this project because I firmly believe the footwear segment is widely growing,” Pesaresi said about his new role. He also underscored the affinity with the label’s founders Paolo Gambato and Roberto Doro, who will continue to be creative director and COO, respectively, and with 21 Investimenti’s team. “I found our ideas on how the brand’s growth and future strategy could be very aligned; there’s been a lot of synergy with them since the beginning, and that’s what really encouraged me to accept this job,” Pesaresi said.
The company has an aggressive, multichannel expansion strategy in mind, not only in terms of quantity but also of quality. Founded in Paris in 1984, Philippe Model’s business has been focused mainly on the wholesale channel, with Italy representing 50 percent of sales. “Our idea is not to double the [doors] where we are already present, but to focus and improve the quality of our distribution,” Pesaresi said, also underscoring the importance of expanding into new markets, starting with the U.S. and Greater China first.
In addition to select department and specialty stores, retail will play a prominent role for the brand. Philippe Model’s first flagship will open in Milan’s tony Via Sant’Andrea at the end of February, while units in Seoul, Tokyo, Paris, London and New York will follow and be launched every six months.
“The American market is very important for us, especially considering the sneakers category, and I believe it could give us much satisfaction in the future,” Pesaresi said. Having lived in the U.S. for eight years and developed a deep knowledge of the market thanks to his previous work experience, Pesaresi considers America a priority. He intends to work to find the right partners for the wholesale distribution, open a stand-alone store in SoHo and invest in the communication to increase brand awareness in the region.
Philippe Model will renovate its image through a digital marketing strategy that will focus on developing catchy storytelling and will involve collaborations with influencers and bloggers. The brand’s web site will be improved while e-commerce, which was launched this year, will be further developed to support the label’s future growth.
“I believe in the omnichannel approach, so our e-commerce has to be aligned to the stores, they have to talk the same language,” Pesaresi stressed, highlighting how Milan was an important store location not only in terms of sales but also of visibility. “Our goal is not to open 100 shops, but only seven for the moment, and grow even faster with our e-commerce,” he said.
Regarding the product, new capsule and limited-edition collections will be introduced to flank the existing men’s and women’s sneakers lines. An exclusive customization program is in the works to enhance the brand’s offer. Asked about expansion to other product categories, Pesaresi didn’t exclude it. He said that although sneakers will always be Philippe Model’s core business, the brand could add other categories in the future to create a complete lifestyle concept and support retail growth.
In 2015, the company generated revenues of 100 million euros, or $106.4 million at current exchange, compared to 80 million euros, or $85 million, the previous year. Pesaresi wants to keep up this pace and aims to deliver double-digit growth every year, a goal he considers “very likely, since we can exploit distribution channels, different geographical areas and product development.”
The CEO’s personal ambition is to “make Philippe Model a successful brand, leader in the accessible luxury.”
Entirely produced in Italy, in the Riviera del Brenta footwear district, Philippe Model’s sneakers retail at an average price of 280 euros, or $300. The brand targets customers aged between 25 and 55, with an average age of 30 and 35 years for women and men, respectively.