Italian sportswear and outerwear brand Ciesse is launching a new collaboration project with Italian rapper J-Ax. The agreement will last for one year and will involve him in a series of projects. The collab was disclosed at the launch of J-Ax’s new hit “Una Voglia Assurda” featuring the singer wearing a selection of pieces of the s/s 2020 Ciesse collection.
Here, Fabio Primerano, executive president of Sport Fashion Service, the company behind Ciesse, explains the brand’s next projects.
No one had forecasted this tempest. Despite this all our plans we had started at the beginning of 2020 (also read here) are confirmed; they will be carried ahead more slowly because of this emergency. The company never closed down and continued working–while following all precautions measures. Despite the difficult time I felt this was an incredible opportunity and while others might return to business and start cutting and reducing costs, we should start with a surprise project. That’s how it was.
The idea to start collaborating with J-Ax was not meant to be another sponsorship. My idea was to base it on artistic and authenticity aspects–as our brand has a true history. As my aim is to reach the younger consumers in a very direct way we thought of some real testimonial who could also help us in communicating with the young and the not-so-young. Our aim is actually to enlarge our customer base and involve the younger ones. We wanted to involve an artist who can communicate, write, express and recall consumers emotionally while explaining our identity and history.
Can you explain more about these projects?
For instance we want to apply on all of our items a special QR code. In addition to using it to protect against counterfeits, each customer will also be able to scan it and find tailor-made content and information like, for instance, backstage images, extra material on the rapper and information on our collection and discounts, in order to increase both customer satisfaction and engagement. It will be operative by the end of July, also in items already sold in stores now, but surely from f/w 2020-21 as what counts is not simply selling a product but selling an experience. We will also collaborate with J-Ax as he will design special capsules hopefully from late autumn, but also eventually pieces aimed at specific target clients.
Our development strategy is based upon three main directions: one is to make its presence become more rational and homogeneous; a second one aims to increase its international presence; and a third one aims to increase its digital presence.
How are you rationalizing the brand’s strategy?
When I arrived in the company it offered four brands–Ciesse Piumini, Ciesse Outdoor, Ciesse Kidswear and Westscout–each of which followed different strategies. I refocused it on a single brand offering different lines: Ciesse Active, more sportswear, and activewear; Ciesse Piumini, more stylish and functional; the kids’ line and Westscout offering technical pieces for high-mountain activities.
How many stores are selling Ciesse?
So far we are working with 1,200 doors, sometimes cannibalizing each other. Ideally considering the three lines we offer best would be working with about 800 doors. We still want to open in our Milanese home a Ciesse Piumini showroom, though not a traditional B2B location, rather a friendly place where we could increase customer engagement and recall both consumers and insiders. We hope to open it by the end of 2020/the beginning of 2021.
What about your international expansion?
We want to focus on that in the next three to five years. Italy still counts for 90% of our sales but we are working hard to grow abroad too. We are registering good results in Spain and want to increase our presence in Germany, Switzerland and Austria where we will operate through a selection of good agents and will enter some key department stores. We hope to grow in Benelux, France and Japan soon, while we have started with Russia.
What about the digital aspect?
As for us more than 95% of our sales comes from physical stores we think we have to support our customers and guarantee their survival though also help them in becoming more familiar with digital tools. For this I am working on a specific digital strategy through which retailers can profit from our digital platforms and manage the ongoing process of conversion from the physical world to the digital one. Through our platforms they can interact with us for orders and similar activities but they can also increase customer engagement. If a client enters their store and they have finished an article in a specific size and color a client wants it, that piece can be found through our platform. That purchase is not lost and the consumer is happy. Moreover, all data from the selling season can be made available and used–while making sure that all privacy matters are respected–by retailers who get to know what sells best in other cities and learn about the season’s performance. The human touch will continue to be important but retailers have to change their approach to sales and act differently from the past. It’s not enough to prepare a beautiful shop window and write “sales” anymore. One has to offer more.
How were sales in 2019?
We closed registering over €26 million in sales, an increased result when compared with 2018, and registered almost €5 million EBITDA. Covid-19, especially for sell-out, has blocked our results for 2020. The real challenge is a solid basis restart in 2021.