Sergio Tacchini goes upmarket, relocates to New York
Sergio Tacchini has triggered its revolution at Pitti Uomo. The sportswear label, which was sold last July by Chinese group Wintex to Italian entrepreneur Stefano Maroni, backed by US investment funds Twin Lakes Capital and B. Riley Principal Investments, chose the renowned Florentine menswear show to introduce its new strategy. The objective is to restore the Italian counterpart of Lacoste to its former splendour, adopting a more upmarket product and brand positioning.
It is a radical departure from Sergio Tacchini’s previous business model as brand company, when design, collection development and marketing communication were all handled centrally in Milan, while production and distribution were licensed to about 10 different partners.
“The label’s identity weakened in the last few years, with a market positioning that wasn’t consistent [with Sergio Tacchini]. We want to refocus [the label] on its DNA and give it new energy,” said Stefano Maroni talking to FashionNetwork.com. Maroni is the founder and former head of GMI USA, an American company specialised in managing licensed brands, especially in footwear, like Seven for All Mankind, True Religion and Ben Sherman.
Last year, after striking a deal with Wintex for the Sergio Tacchini brand rights in the US via GMI USA, Maroni started to think about buying the label outright, and opened negotiations with the Chinese group. The new owners want to relaunch Sergio Tacchini starting from the US market, where the label hasn’t been active for some years and is now little known.
Design office moves to New York
Between now and July, the company will shift its entire design and product development departments to New York, while the showroom and archives will stay in Milan. A decision which is worrying some of Sergio Tacchini’s licensees, afraid of losing the know-how of its Italian designers, some of whom have been with the label for over 20 years. There is also concern about the new products presented at Pitti Uomo, some of which are regarded as too “elitist”, and not quite suited to the label’s current distribution network.
“There will be a strong focus on the USA and Japan, a key market for Sergio Tacchini. In Europe, the repositioning will be gradual, with high-quality products designed to restore the label to its 1980s glory days. The new energy we are going to inject is an opportunity for the licensees,” said Maroni, who hired Shaun Lee Lewis, a long-serving executive at Levi Strauss & Co., to lead the marketing department.
While the North American business will be run directly, the other markets will continue to be handled via license agreements, which will of course need to be redefined. The label's e-tail site will be relaunched in early February, as well as its Instagram and other social media accounts. Among the licence deals that have been renewed, the one for eyewear with Hong Kong group Mondottica, signed a year ago and now extended to 2023.
To bolster Sergio Tacchini's new strategy, the senior management team has called on New York designer Dao-Yi Chow, 35, co-founder of street/designer label Public School with Maxwell Osborne. Chow, a tennis aficionado, presented in Florence a first collection blending hip-hop culture with a more traditional men's wardrobe.
“I immersed myself in the archives, which are huge. The garment construction and the quality of the clothes are incredible. I intend to draw inspiration from all these details and techniques. The idea is to combine various influences, from the almost tailored style of [the label’s] early days to its vivid 1980s colour palette, adding present-day technology,” said the designer to FashionNetwork.com, underlining how he tried to create a new, more polished and contemporary Sergio Tacchini.
For the Fall/Winter 2020-21, Chow tapped the contrast between a classic ‘Italian Riviera’ style and the fun, informal way in which US rappers and British football fans embraced the label in the 1990s. The outcome is an attractive collection with an undeniably directional touch.
A fresh take on tracksuit bottoms
Chow revisited the proportions of Sergio Tacchini's traditional tracksuit bottoms, adopting a slightly flared cut. A hybrid jacket, at once tracksuit top and striped jacket, is worn over trousers exuding a classic feel, slit behind the ankles. A black wool and viscose sweater with a trompe-l’œil collar sports the Sergio Tacchini name embroidered in green, as it was featured on the labels of the sportswear brand’s very first models.
“We wanted to water down [the label’s] sportswear register. Consumers expect something more directional. We are notably going to expand the knitwear range, and introduce slightly more formal apparel,” said Chow, who announced a forthcoming collaboration with New Balance and hopes to be able to show the next collection in Milan. That Sergio Tacchini is going upmarket is evident in the clothes, and also in the prices. Silk-lined and satin-made jackets are sold at $785 (€700), ultra-lightweight lined nylon trousers at $195, and the jacket-trousers sets can cost up to $1,400.
In 2018, Sergio Tacchini generated a revenue of €50 million, and its final forecast for 2019 is €55 million. Europe is its main market, accounting for over 60% of sales, followed by Japan. Italy remains a strong market, with sales of €13 million, while France generates a revenue of between €8 million and €9 million. Sergio Tacchini is distributed via over 1,500 multibrand retailers worldwide, and doesn’t have any monobrand stores.
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