An exclusive partnership between men’s luxury brand Corneliani and Triluxe Apparel Group, an upscale NYC showroom co-founded by Rian Gardiner, was announced earlier this week to much acclaim. Here, we catch up with Corneliani CEO Giorgio Brandazza to get additional insight into his mindset and plans for this luxury brand. With a strong background in menswear (including marketing director and general manager at GFT Europe, exec positions at Calvin Klein jeans in Europe and Asia, a brief stint at Boglioli and the past four years at Corneliani), Brandazza has a broad perspective on how to elevate and grow a luxury brand.

Why the focus on the U.S. market and why now?

I believe the North American market offers much growth potential for Corneliani, especially after a few tough years during Covid. I realize that, while most European men love to buy something new each season, fashion is not a top spending priority for American men, who seem to have a different set of priorities. But that’s where the opportunity lies! I believe we have the right offerings and the right strategy to significantly build sales in North America.

Could you be more specific on ideal offerings?

Our general game plan is to win over customers with strong design appeal that’s not so much a fashion revolution as a gradual evolution, a step up within their taste level each season. We don’t want to take men too far out of their comfort zone, but it can’t be the same look every season. An example: just today I was out shopping for shoes, and I picked up a pair that I was about to buy when I realized I was holding in my hands the exact same shoes that I was wearing (and that I’d purchased three years ago!) So I decided not to buy them…

As noted in our press release, our Spring ’24 offerings focus on ‘light fabrics, innovative materials, comfortable silhouettes, and vibrant colors for a comprehensive wardrobe driven by contemporary elegance.’

What is your distribution strategy here in the States?

We currently have 60 points of sale between specialty stores, and selected department stores, and this will be our focus. Our goal is to partner with and create a platform for specific upscale retailers in order to directly communicate with their customers. We want to share our message of updated, elegant, effortless clothing (notice I do not use the word fashion, as I don’t think American men care so much about fashion). We hope to deliver not just a uniform but an experience.

Are you referring to your new Gents Club concept? Can you describe it?

Yes. The goal is to promote “Made in Italy” excellence through a membership program offering exclusive services and privileges. It centers on Made to Measure and Italian lifestyle (food, wine, cocktails of course!) and will kick off in North America in the second half of the year.

It’s amazing that when we bring clients into our factories, when they see how much work and expertise goes into the jacket that they wear every day, we immediately create a sense of respect, a feeling for how precious this everyday clothing really is. Creating an appreciation of not just the clothing but also the entire Italian lifestyle is our ultimate goal. We’re rolling out the test in Italy right now, with a special lounge in our central Milan showroom. It’s in an old historic building; you can imagine the ambiance… So we pick up the clients, bring them there to take measurements and select among hundreds of luxury fabrics. We offer jackets, suits, coats, shirts, all categories…and deliver made-to-measure in four weeks. This is how we create a full experience to give clients a sense of the Corneliani world. And this is how we will create loyalty and trust in the brand.

How much of your business is direct-to-consumer vs. wholesale?

D2C is about 15 percent; our wholesale business is still core. Our priority is emphatically partnering with top department and specialty store retailers to communicate the value of the brand to their customers via a made-in-Italy luxury experience.

Are the supply chain issues that plagued the industry finally behind us?

For us, yes. As you know, tailored clothing has come back strong since the pandemic; special events have created demand. We had to streamline our supply chain to serve this positive market trend, but in early 2022, our factory was still unable to catch up. So we quickly recruited more than 40 skilled craftspeople and we’re now at 110 percent capacity, even working on Saturdays.

What item of clothing do you personally want to buy next?

A classic relaxed jacket, something between a soft sportcoat and an outerwear piece. Maybe in cashmere or a wool/cashmere blend. Something casually elegant and very comfortable.

The Corneliani collection can be seen at the NYC Triluxe showroom and at the August Chicago Collective.


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