Gas Jeans is back and is ready to start a new life under a new owner, a new management and a new brand name.
The Italian historic Italian jeans brand has now become Gas Milano 1984.
Rino Castiglione, an expert jeanswear business insider who worked for Guess and VF Group brands including Wrangler, is the founding partner and CEO of Alpha Square Invest, a Swiss investment holding company headed by chairman and co-founder Paolo Agazzone.
Castiglione explained The SPIN OFF the strategy behind this reboot.
The acquisition is an entrepreneurial operation that involved Grotto Spa’s main creditors - DEA - together with other entrepreneurs, Andrea Citterio, Italian entrepreneur in the lighting industry, and Andrea Bordin. Then Alpha Square and me entered the acquisition and relaunch project, and we created a pool of investors who acquired the company. We bought the whole perimeter tied to the brand - the company, the brand, the head office. We re-employed all the employees and discovered an amazing archive.
What about Alpha Square? Can you tell us more about it?
Alpha Square Invest is a dynamic independent investment holding company whose core business is technology. It is based upon a vision of respectful and innovative finance integrity, transparency, technology and ESG criteria constitute our core values.
The acquisition of Gas is our first fashion project, though we want to acquire other companies in the fashion and accessory segment in the future.
What has always characterized Gas, more than the fashion aspect, has always been quality, great fits and impeccable service.
The company could always count on a very high level and efficient, Never Out of Stock and replenishment service. This aspect has always been appreciated by its clients and especially in Germany, a market that played a key role for this brand since its early days.
What about denim? Will it remain one of the key aspects in this brand’s reboot?
Denim has always been important for Gas, and it will continue to be so. Though if before it counted for 80% of its offer, we aim to reposition and offer 60% denim and 40% fashion products in order to make it become more lifestyle oriented.
As part of this aim, we hired a creative director, Gregoria Carmaglini, former creative director of Guess. She is a true expert and a great professional. She will surely help us to develop the Gas world, which lately has been a bit weak. Furthermore, she will help us upgrade the quality of the product and reinforce its woman’s offer, which was also not very strong.
Gas is positioned between Levi’s and Lee, in an entry price, at prices ranging between €89 and €149, among the big players of denim. Though our aim is to stay focused on what is the quality of the product, but, along with that, we will also concentrate on sustainability as it is one of the key aspects of this relaunch.
Tell us more about this aspect?
Sustainability is a very important element for Alpha Square, as we have an inside ethical code we have to stick to. According to it, all the investments we do cannot only have a speculative logic but also have to guarantee the safeguarding of the environment, of the people and of the workers involved in it. If there are not at least a couple of these aspects in our potential investments, we cannot consider that. Alpha Square doesn’t want to be simply a speculative fund. We want to do investments with a profit logic, but not only that.
You spoke about sustainability. How will you translate that into a real action?
We will start from the product which will be based upon a selected choice of fabrics, starting from denim made, for instance, with organic cotton and by choosing manufacturing companies that produce according to low consumption levels of water, no chemicals, and, for instance, use laser to treatments… All these are some of our aims. We visited Kingpins Amsterdam in October and our creative team are strongly focused on this aspect as their priority number one.
Not yet, but we will work in order to do it. These are objectives we will reach, but sustainability is not an aspect that we want to show through marketing activities. It has to be a personal lifestyle that you first live, and a culture the whole company embraces entirely. It has not to be an aim of the head of design, or of the supply chain, but an integral move of the company aiming for this target.
Where will you produce?
Today we produce mostly in the Mediterranean basin and in the Far East, but we are also evaluating to bring some product categories back to Italy. Tunisia and Turkey are our reference country.
In terms of fabrics, for instance, we are also using Candiani Denim. In the past they used it for some capsules, and now we have started using it again as part of our relaunch strategy as we want to set the basis of this relaunch from the product.
Obviously, we aim to rebuild the historic values of the company but, in order to do so, you have to be able to work with people who can understand and translate this project into real product. For this we hired Carmaglini, as creative director, and also hired a responsible for the supply chain.
Despite this, we worked very fast and in three months we could already finalize a first reorganization with managers who have already shared the vision of the investors.
Our challenge is to speed up as much as possible–from the internal reorganization to the implementation of processes. Since the beginning of October we also hired a new IT director who will surely help us to make this transformation.
Approximately how many items will the collection count?
Indicatively, the new collection will be about 400/450 SKUs. I am actually implementing a new business model, which in addition to the two seasonal collections and previews will include expanded collections with advances, injections, capsules and delivery collaborations, and it will be less and less tied to seasonality. To support the core denim business, a "never out of stock" service will be implemented with flexibility and service logics to ensure continuous supply.
Will you participate any shows?
We are considering the possibility to participate Pitti Uomo in June 2023.
Besides Italy, which has always been Gas' main market, Germany and Spain have also played a key role, and we want to grow there.
Have you already defined agreements with agents or distributors in these countries?
In the first part of the year, we reorganized and strengthened the structure of agents in Italy and Southern Europe, with a strong focus on Spain. From next season we want to strengthen Germany, Austria and Switzerland, along with Scandinavia through an integrated network that includes a mix of agents and distributors.
Will you open mono brand stores? How many within the first two to four seasons?
In the first four seasons we will open two flagship stores, one in Italy and one in Germany, and four more doors in shopping malls and commercial areas, as well as ten concessions between Italy, Spain, Germany and Switzerland.