High acquired by three Italian investors via Strava
High is opening a new chapter. The premium women's ready-to-wear label that was launched in 2007 by Interfashion, the former subsidiary of the Italian Stefanel group, has just been acquired by investors grouped within the new Strava company. This should enable it to accelerate its development, particularly internationally, where it generates 90% of its sales and has succeeded in making a name for itself over the years. High is known for its timeless style that is both sophisticated and informal.
Historically, Interfashion, which has been in business since 1992, was in charge of the Stefanel group's licences, for which it managed production and distribution. In addition to Closed, GGigli and I'M Isola Marras, the company also supported the development of Marithé + François Girbaud. It was with Scottish designer Claire Campbell, who worked for the iconic French denim brand for seventeen years, that Interfashion launched High, abandoning its licensing activities to concentrate on its new brand.
The designer forged High's 'everyday couture' identity, overseeing its styling until 2019. The in-house style team, which worked alongside her, has taken over, and external consultants are also called upon. The brand is particularly appreciated for the quality of its creations, especially in terms of finishes and technical details, with significant work on volumes and materials.
Interfashion has been bought out 100% for an undisclosed sum by Strava srl, a company set up at the end of 2022 and made up of three Italian investors: entrepreneur Giuseppe Stefanel, through his financial holding company Isidora; Giulio Corno, founder and CEO of Triboo Digitale, High's digital partner since 2012; and Alberto Vacchi, head of the financial company Alva and the IMA group, which specialises in packaging.
As a reminder, following the financial difficulties of Stefanel, which was placed in extraordinary administration and then put up for sale in 2020, Interfashion, which is linked to the group, followed the same path. But while Stefanel was bought by the OVS Group in 2021, High has had to wait until now to find a buyer. However, it has never stopped being active and generating profits.
"During this three-year phase, the in-house management has always remained in place," explains managing director Alessandro Cavalieri, who was formerly sales director at Interfashion and was promoted to CEO last March. "Despite the difficulties, the company has managed to preserve its business by guaranteeing positive balance sheets every year. With the takeover by Strava, all the jobs and management have been maintained. We have even renewed the rent on our showroom and offices in Milan, which cover 800 square metres," he points out.
The Rimini-based company employs 110 people. Its sales forecast for 2023 is in line with the €26 million achieved in 2022, as it plans to increase its investments. "The aim is to consolidate our international presence, starting with our reference market, Europe, where we want to expand our presence with targeted retail operations in major cities. We will also be relaunching the brand in terms of communications, and working on special projects to rejuvenate the customer base," says Alessandro Cavalieri.
The brand is currently distributed through some 500 retailers worldwide, and twenty boutiques, including nine in France (two each in Paris, Bordeaux, Cannes, Lyon, Lille, Toulouse, Nantes and Strasbourg), five in Germany and three in Poland. It is also present in China, Australia and the United States, markets in which it hopes to expand. Two-thirds of sales are via the wholesale channel, one-third via retail and online, with online sales accounting for 18% of total sales.
Fourty percent of production is made in Italy, with the remainder manufactured in China, India, Portugal and Morocco. The range is divided into three lines. High, the first line, which is positioned in the more upmarket segment; High Use, which focuses on workwear made from natural materials and using highly sought-after treatments; and High Tech, which is sportswear, using high-performance technical fabrics. There is also a selection of gender-neutral styles. Trousers and dresses make up the bulk of sales, with prices ranging from €350 to €500. With its feminine and romantic touch, the brand offers a total look from ready-to-wear to accessories, bags and shoes.
"This acquisition gives the brand a great deal of stability, something it has lacked up until now if it is to develop further. It will give it a new impetus, as it will be able to invest and operate more effectively internationally. At the same time, continuity is assured. High is a contemporary casual chic brand with character, distinguished by original, high-quality design and a great deal of innovation in terms of fabrics and treatments. It has great potential," concludes Alessandro Cavalieri.
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