Gruppo Calzedonia Takes Majority Stake in Antonio Marras

·3 min read

MILAN — Gruppo Calzedonia is entering the luxury world, becoming Antonio Marras’ white knight.

The Verona, Italy-based hosiery, innerwear and swimwear group has inked an agreement to take an 80 percent stake in the fashion designer’s company, providing its retail and production experience, in addition to its financial muscle, to develop the Antonio Marras brand. The amount of the investment was not disclosed.

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Marras will continue to design his namesake brand, which includes apparel, accessories, furniture and design objects inspired by his art.

“This agreement represents the entry of our group in a world of high exclusivity and creativity that is new for us and thus we will approach it with prudence and respect,” said Gruppo Calzedonia chairman Sandro Veronesi. “However, we are convinced that Antonio Marras’ art and intuition, supported by our organization, will bring excellent results.”

“Finally I will be able to dedicate myself exclusively to the creative aspects, certain that highly experienced professionals will be at my side and accompany me in this new adventure,” Marras commented.

Rumors about Marras’ possible sale to a financial partner or investor periodically resurfaced over the years and, in March 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the designer told WWD he was worried about the future of his company as an independent, without a group to support him.

Marras’ creative world blends cinema and poetry, history and visual arts, and his talent for scenography is no secret for those who have attended his fashion shows, where the runway is always the stage for theatrical presentations. Personal tales always lie behind his carefully detailed collections, and his fanciful and imaginative sets. His next fashion show is scheduled for Sept. 21 in Milan.

Marras’ collections are all sewn and embroidered in Sardinia, with embroideries and details comparable to haute couture.

In fact, Marras was invited to show a couture collection in Rome in 1996 and, to that end, he took apart his uncle’s wardrobe, recreating striking gowns from men’s suits, cutting and stitching together scraps from different looks.

At the insistence of his wife Patrizia, who is chief executive officer of the company, Marras first launched a line in 1987 under the Piano Piano Dolce Carlotta label, a translation of the title of the 1964 Bette Davis film “Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte” — movies being another passion.

His signature collection was previously produced by BVM SpA, for which he designed Les Copains and Gibò, and was later manufactured by Castor.

Marras was also artistic director of Kenzo from 2003 to 2011.

Last year, Calzedonia Group grew sales and profitability in 2021 as it continued its international expansion.

The group, which includes the Calzedonia, Intimissimi, Tezenis, Falconeri, Atelier Emé and Signorvino brands, in 2021 reported revenues of 2.5 billion euros, up 29.1 percent compared with 1.94 billion euros in 2020. Compared with 2019, sales increased 3.9 percent.

In the 12 months ended Dec. 31, earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization climbed 43.1 percent, totaling more than 760 million euros, compared with 531 million euros in the previous year.

The group has been expanding beyond Italy for years and exports now account for 56 percent of total sales. As of Dec. 31, the group counted 5,076 stores, of which 3,288 outside Italy. Last year, it opened 176 additional stores, of which 139 were abroad.

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