Launched in 2013 as a small brand offering revisited espadrilles, Manebí is gearing up to face new international challenges.
The company, established by Milanese friends Antonello Benati and Vera Drossopulo Bogdano, has opened its capital to Milano Investment Partners — MIP, a fund management company specialized in venture growth investments. Details of the operation were not disclosed.
“We were searching for the right partner to continue our expansion path after having created and managed Manebí relying only on our strengths and the support of our team,” said Drossopulo Bogdano, who worked at Lehman Brothers and later covered the role of VP at Société Generale before embarking on the Manebí adventure.
“We aim to expand our business into international markets becoming an iconic brand in the footwear and beachwear fashion segment,” said Benati, who cut his teeth at Merrill Lynch Bank of America. “We found in MPI the ideal partner, able to support both our strategic decisions and the operations, thanks to their great experience, their global network and their focus on the consumer-tech sectors.”
Since its foundation in December 2017, MIP has invested in a range of promising startups, including artisanal shoe manufacturer Velasca, German premium luggage brand Horizn Studios, Spanish flower e-commerce Colvin and Italian pasta restaurant chain Miscusi.
“This investment in Manebí, along with the other six made in the last eight months, represents MIP’s further step into the lifestyle sector,” said Angelo Moratti, MIP anchor investor. “We were looking for Italian and European brands offering high-end products, a global expansion plan and a consolidated business model. And Manebí meets these requisites, which are fundamental for each investment of the fund. We will work with them to make their product scalable in a market, which is valued 9.5 billion euros ($12.7 billion) only in Europe and which sees the exports up 4 percent in the last two years.”
Rooted in a resort-inspired aesthetic, Manebí, which closed 2018 with revenues of 3 million euros and expects to grow 50 percent this year, offers espadrilles and summery footwear styles, including laceups, showing both straw and rubber soles.
Thanks to the investment of MIP, which holds a minority stake in the company, Drossopulo Bogdano and Benati also revealed that this summer the company will be able to introduce in its stores a beachwear offering.
“Our goal is to create a whole world revolving our own take on the idea of summer, travel and vacation,” Drossopulo Bogdano said.
Manebí collections, which are distributed by Milanese footwear showroom Massimo Bonini, are sold in 300 multibrand stores and online retailers around the world, including Le Bon Marché, KaDeWe, LuisaViaRoma, Net-a-Porter, Matchesfashion, Beymen, Rinascente, Tsum and Ssense. Italy, the U.S., the U.K. and Germany are the brand’s best-performing markets.
The brand also operates a network of seven stores in Italy, located in Milan, Santa Margherita Ligure, Pietrasanta, Porto Cervo, Porto Rotondo and Panarea.
“In April, we will inaugurate our first store outside of Italy, in Ibiza,” said Benati, who revealed that the company aims to extend its presence in key seaside resorts, such as Mykonos, Greece; St. Tropez, France; and Capri, Italy; and at the same time enter key cities including London, Rome, Madrid and Barcelona, Spain.
A digital native brand, Manebí generates one-third of its business online with its directly operated e-commerce, which received about 1 million views a year.
“Among our future goals, there is also the creation of collaborations with other brands, which can help us attract new customers and create buzz around the brand,” added Drossopulo Bogdano.
This story was reported by WWD and originally appeared on WWD.com.