How 5 Italian Shoe Brands Are Boosting Their Sales in the US

At the recent Micam trade show in Milan, FN caught up with a number of made-in-Italy footwear brands to discuss their global strategies.

Among several initiatives, international expansion was a common mission, and the U.S. market remains a key component of that. Here, five executives share their growth plans.

1. Federico Pozzi Chiesa, president and owner, Fragiacomo

On showing at Micam for the first time: In the last few years, [the show’s] luxury segment has evolved so the positioning is now the right level for us to take part. Our stand also showcases our new store layout.”

Geographic focus:
“We plan to refresh our flagships in Rome and Milan, but are also opening four franchise boutiques in Iran with the Ansari family — who is developing big malls there. The first will open in September.”

U.S. approach:
We want to reenter, but in the right way. We already have three of our archive shoes in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, so it’s a good start.”

Growth areas:
“We are discussing co-branded runway projects with luxury Parisian houses, working with Italian influencers like fashion photographer Nima Benati and evolving our historic associations with the big screen. We award an annual prize at the Venice Film Festival with the Mimmo Rotella art foundation. George Clooney and Michael Caine won it last year.”

Overall strategy:
“We really believe in digital. We launched our own e-commerce six months ago and also signed with Yoox. Our family portfolio includes an incubator of digital startups such as the first peer lending system in Europe. We take much of our know-how from them.”

2. Tobias Dariz, chief strategy officer, Officine Creative

Geographic focus: “We will be focusing predominantly on the U.S. and China. We are we looking to set up our first shoe-corners at major department stores in Beijing, open a flagship store in Shanghai and work with local e-commerce sites.”

U.S. approach: “Since opening our first flagship store in NYC and a dedicated e-commerce site, we will be looking at potential openings of further flag-ship stores and expanding partnerships with current retailers.”

Overall strategy: “We are making a bigger investment in human resources and innovative technologies that allow us to work more efficiently, to faster retrieve and analyze data in order to optimize our business.”

The economic climate: “Over the past five years it has had negative but also a positive impact on our business. The fluctuation in exchange rates has affected the buying power of many of our retail partners outside Europe but luckily our overall business is strong and has been constantly growing in double digits.”

3. Alessandro Porta, co-owner, Jeannot

Geographic focus: “The Italian market is always our first market but the first foreign market is Russia. Going forward, we will approach the U.S.

Overall strategy: “To continue working with multibrands, both in store and via their e-commerce sites. We’re also tapping into the logo trend to create a stronger image. We’re doing a capsule collection of sneakers with our logo on the tabs.”

4. Giovanni Fabiani, CEO, Fabiani

Geographic focus: “Russia, Asia and China and the U.S., plus we’re now starting to work with the Italian market again.”

U.S. approach: “We’re doing a private label collaboration with the retailer Taryn Rose for both spring and fall.

Overall strategy: “Six months ago, we launched a new worldwide e-commerce platform so we’re developing that with local partners with a goal to grow online sales to 10 percent by the end of the year.”

5. Cleto Sagripanti, CEO, Kalliste

(Parent company of Alberto Fermani)

Geographic focus: “United States and the Far East. We’ve been with Neiman Marcus, Saks and Nordstrom from the beginning. The U.S. is one of our most important markets.”

Overall strategy: “Our focus is multibrand stores and we know it’s difficult for them right now. So we are doing six to eight smaller collections a year so they don’t have to do big orders, and the customer gets continuous newness. We have a shorter time to market which is possible as we own our own factories and have a big research and development department in Venice. We can do a prototype in two weeks, a collection in three weeks and deliver in two months.”

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