Salvatore Ferragamo CFO Alessandro Corsi to Join MinervaHub as CEO

Salvatore Ferragamo CFO Alessandro Corsi to Join MinervaHub as CEO

MILAN — On the heels of its latest acquisition, 100 percent of New and Best H.F., MinervaHub is gearing up to welcome Alessandro Corsi as its new chief executive officer.
Corsi is leaving his role as chief financial officer of Salvatore Ferragamo on Sept. 30,  as reported at the end of June, and sources said at the time that he was exiting the Florence-based company to take on a CEO position.

Matteo Marzotto, president of MinervaHub, praised Corsi’s expertise built over the years, “coming from such a wonderful company as Ferragamo,” also giving a shoutout to former CEO Michele Norsa, “who has always been successful in forming his teams in the best possible way.”

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Corsi will succeed Marco Casoni and Giuseppe Cerea, who will continue to collaborate with MinervaHub as consultants, and Marzotto will also contribute to the handover, he said.

MinervaHub was established last year to protect a number of Italian manufacturers in the country’s supply chain that help create garments and accessories. In April it sold a 75 percent stake to Investment holding San Quirico SpA.

The remaining 25 percent stake remains in the hands of one of the sellers, Xenon Private Equity, with other coinvestors that include Marzotto. The entrepreneur pointed to further acquisitions in the fall, expressing his confidence in continuing to bulk up MinervaHub’s size and expand its expertise.

Asked about selecting Corsi for the job, Marzotto said he was “impressed by the quality of his work and his extensive path, always growing in responsibilities, within the same, very solid, organization. I think loyalty is always a positive. And I like the fact that he has different skills, experience with financial indicators, processes, operations and business sensibility.”

With a chuckle, he added that Corsi, like himself, is a sportsman, and a fan of cycling — also a strong passion of Marzotto’s. “I believe this helps team building and cements relationships.”

Corsi was named CFO of Ferragamo in December 2018, effective Jan. 11 the following year.

After an initial experience in the financial area of General Electric, he joined Ferragamo’s planning and control department in 2003. In 2006, he was appointed director of group business development and e-commerce. After that, he took part in Ferragamo’s initial public offering project in the role of investor relations director since the listing of the company on the Milan Stock Exchange in 2011 and until 2013, when he was appointed director of the Europe, Middle East and Africa region, a position he held until 2018, when he was appointed chief strategy officer.

MinervaHub, which reports sales of more than 170 million euros, has a portfolio of more than 1,000 clients, of which are 20 among the main luxury brands, and 700-plus employees. 

The company stems from the fusion of XPP Seven and Ambria Holding, which Marzotto formed in 2021, taking majority stakes in Italian companies Zeta Catene and Galvanica Formelli, both located in the Arezzo, Tuscany, area. Zeta Catene produces more than 2,000 types of chains of different shapes, sizes and materials, such as brass and silver, as accessories for bags and shoes. Galvanica Formelli offers metal details, components and galvanic treatments for fashion accessories.

MinervaHub has grown to include other companies including Jato 1991, specialized in delicate and sophisticated hand embroideries, Conceria Zuma Pelli Pregiate and Quake to name a few, which operate in the fashion–luxury market, in design, sportswear, cosmetics, jewelry and automotive. 

The latest acquisition, New and Best H.F. is based in Barletta, in Italy’s Apulia region. Since 1989 it has operated mainly in the high-end  leather goods, footwear, ready-to-wear and accessories  sectors and, in particular, in finishings on textiles, leather and synthetic materials.

The founding Doronzo family will continue to be directly involved in the management of New and Best H.F. and, aligned with the business model of MinervaHub, is reinvesting in the latter.

Sustainability a Hot Topic at Lineapelle

Sustainability a Hot Topic at Lineapelle

MILAN — Building strong connections and a focus on a new industrial culture drove the three-day leather trade show Lineapelle.
With more than 1,100 exhibitors, compared with 725 in the September edition last year, the show ended with an optimistic mood. Lineapelle attracted more than 16,000 visitors, 47 percent up compared with last September, with visitors from the U.S., India, Mexico and Turkey, but also France, the United Kingdom, Portugal and Spain.

A driving force of this restart was the simultaneous presence of other fairs connected to the fashion industry like Micam, the footwear trade show, and Mipel, the bags and accessories exhibition. Lineapelle closed Sept. 22.,

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That was the best way to celebrate the 100th edition of Lineapelle, according to chief executive officer Fulvia Bacchi, who said buyers did not attend only to get a sense of the trends but also to find partners. This goes hand in hand with the industry reporting an increase of 3.7 percent in production volume and 11.2 percent in turnover during the first six months of the year, compared to the corresponding period last year.

Having a number of fairs taking place at the same time was a key factor also for Chiara Mastrotto, president of Gruppo Mastrotto, as they attract foreign visitors. “The U.S. market held up well, while Japan and Korea showed good signs of a restart,” she said. “The European market is always vital to our business, even if it is severely affected by the geopolitical situation, particularly in the mass market sector.”

The company, which has sales of 330 million euros, featured a fall-winter 2023-2024 collection focused on the duo leather and technology, following a path started years ago to reach a more sustainable production.

At the heart of this work was “Reviva,” a patent-pending material born out of leather processing waste. “We are aiming at a real circular economy that allows us to use each single piece of our materials,” Mastrotto added. “Reviva is also extremely flexible and can be customized to meet all of our high-end fashion clients.”

Gruppo Mastrotto is fairly balanced in terms of business areas. “We gave shape to an industrial plan based on a business diversification to reduce our industrial risks,” the president explained. Accordingly, the company is present in major international markets and sells to sectors ranging from shoes to furniture.

Considering the current geopolitical situation and the latest Italian general elections, Mastrotto said that a crucial point to be seriously approached should be energy investments and a strong commitment to find a solution to the energy crisis.

Costantino Karazissis, founder and CEO of Italian Converter, agreed. “Increased costs may weaken the market in the most serious way,” he said.

Exports account for 40 percent of Italian Converter’s sales. “Our core markets are in Europe, with France at the forefront followed by the United Kingdom” and Italy.  Karazissis explained that “this is due to our kind of customers, which are mainly positioned in the high-end range.”

The core business of the company, which is based near Pavia, Italy, is the footwear market, but now the management is planning to expand into other sectors, starting with furniture and then apparel. During Milan Design Week in June, Italian Converter showcased a line in partnership with architect Simone Micheli.

The stand of Italian Converter at Lineapelle.

Sustainability is another issue Karazissis feels strongly about. The goal is to reach a sustainable production “for real,” as he underscored, which means going slow but sure to convert all industrial processes and materials.

“We use bottle-recycled polyester, organic cotton and natural fibers which are all biodegradable, but it is not that easy to meet partners who share our same vision, as a real sustainable process means investments.”

With this in mind, Italian Converter will shortly sign an agreement with ItalConcia in Tuscany to produce material made of a mix of leather called Bio Based Lather and fabric, establishing a circular economy process.

The key to change this situation lies also in a new industrial culture, which involves professional training, too. During Lineapelle there were students from Milanese schools, while the Mipel Lab area hosted the partnership between Assopellettieri and Aslam, an institute that offers a range of courses including training in the leather industry.

“Qualified labor is getting hard to find and we want to buck this trend by investing in professional training,” confirmed Franco Gabbrielli, president of Mipel Lab. “We have to work to create a cultural revolution and let the youngest understand that an artisan’s craft work is as creative and noble as a designer’s.”

Mipel Lab gathered 13 Italian companies from the industry. “We want to expand our influence abroad, especially in the U.S., where we are looking for new partnerships,” Gabbrielli added.

In sync with this strategy is the partnership with Impersive, a company that specializes in augmented reality, showing at accessories show Mipel. Through the use of a 3D Oculus, visitors could find themselves in the leather production process, enabling them to better understand the combination of technology and handcraft.

“Our sector boasts salaries which are often higher than the country’s average, it is our duty to study a better communication and present ourselves as a system,” said Stefano Giacomelli, CEO of Tivoli Group, one of the Mipel Lab companies. Giacomelli added that the next step for Mipel Lab should be to develop close relationships with the main international fashion associations, starting with focusing on the U.S. and France.

Regarding Tivoli, its CEO underscored how important the North American market is for the group, while Europe has showed signs of a revival in the last few months. “We are now working with an increasing number of international contemporary brands: we represent the Made in Italy branch for them.” After a difficult 2020, the Tuscan company saw a slight growth in turnover, reaching 52 million euros.

Antonio Quirici, president of Consorzio Cuoio di Toscana, the Tuscan cowhide consortium, said: “We are betting on a circular, sustainable production and on collaboration with young designers, to raise awareness about our industrial sector among the new generations.” Quirici is also president of the Bonistalli & Stefanelli tannery.

The consortium supported emerging brands Act N.1 and Cormio during the September Milan Fashion Week by supplying the companies with vegetable tanned sole leather free of charge. The goal is to go further along this path, from the next Milan Fashion Week to Pitti Uomo, in Florence. Quirici confirmed that in the first six months of the year Europe, North America and Asia were the markets recovering best, while high-end customers represent most of its companies’ business, including brands like Chanel, Dior and Ferragamo.

Signs of a market recovery also were seen by Tuscan Conceria Superior, 43.65 percent of whose share capital has just been acquired by Prada Group.  “We can be optimistic but keeping in mind that autumn will be crucial,” said creative director Massimiliano Schiavini, although an “air of uncertainty” is reigning because of increasing costs and the geopolitical situation. “December and January will be key months and after that we will be able to understand if the global market is recovering for real.”

Valextra’s CEO on Brand’s Men’s Accessories

Valextra’s CEO on Brand’s Men’s Accessories

MILAN — Valextra’s chief executive officer Xavier Rougeaux is aiming to expand the visibility of the brand in the men’s wear segment.
To this end, Rougeaux staged a presentation at the Milan flagship during Men’s Fashion Week, and highlighted the changes he felt were necessary. He is no stranger to the storied and luxury Italian leather goods brand, since he rejoined it in January after holding the role of marketing and commercial director from 2015 to 2016.
Rougeaux succeeded Sara Ferrero, who helmed Valextra for six years, and leverages his experience in the luxury sector as he was most recently the CEO of Smythson in London, which he joined in 2018, and he previously held senior positions at brands including Loro Piana and Sergio Rossi.

His arrival does not herald a revolution at Valextra, as he plans to continue to emphasize its prized craftsmanship and “engineering beauty,” he said, as well as the timelessness of its products. However, he is making changes that he believes will help modernize the brand. For example, the successful Avietta travel bag with its double compartments and external pockets is rendered in a softer printed calf that makes it more contemporary and flexible when on the go.
“The themes of mobility on the body and versatility are important,” the executive underscored. Pouches with adjustable straps are an example.

His goal is also to “expand the customer journey with a new architecture of different prices,” so that new customers can “approach, familiarize with and appreciate the brand,” starting for example from the new B-Tracollina Slim, a structural pouch bag, proportioned to carry an iPhone or Android device, as well as cards and keys and retailing at around 995 euros.
“Aesthetic elements are key, but so is functionality,” he said.

Xavier Rougeaux 
courtesy image

Highlights included the return of the classic Havana shade with contrasting stitching and the signature Costa lacquered piping in green — a tribute to the founder Giovanni Fontana; an update on the iconic Tric Trac wrist bag through an adjustable strap so it can be worn across the body — as well as by its wrist strap, and crossbody compartment bags.
The new weekend and travel Canvas bag is marked by Valextra’s signature rounded pocket which has a foiled code number unique to the bag and the artisan who made it. The architectural curved pocket is inspired by the windows of the first Valextra boutique in Milan. The canvas can be recycled, Rougeaux said.

Valextra’s new Canvas bag 
courtesy image

The new V-line Bumbag, crafted from Valextra’s signature Millepunte calf skin, has been designed to be worn either across the body or carried as a clutch with the strap removed. Comprising two compartments, one opens out to reveal card slots, a pen loop and pockets, while the other provides space for passports and tech, making it ideal for traveling.
The new Pocket handbag was inspired by the asymmetric lines of Valextra’s SLG collections and comprises three pockets — two snap-closing flap compartments and one central zipped space. The strap mechanism rotates 180 degrees to swing in sync with the body. Without the strap, it’s a capacious day-to-night clutch.
“Everything is artisanal but authentic and this is what the luxury customer wants,” Rougeaux mused.

As reported, Ralph Toledano joined Valextra’s board of directors in January. Toledano has headed brands including Karl Lagerfeld, Guy Laroche, Chloé and Puig’s fashion unit. He is the chairman of Victoria Beckham and the president of the Fédération Française de la Haute Couture et de la Mode. Toledano is also a partner in Neo Investment Partners, which bought a majority stake in Valextra in 2013. The London-based investment firm has stakes in fashion and lifestyle brands including Victoria Beckham Ltd., Miller Harris and Alain Mikli.

How Nour Hammour Thrived Off of Creating the Perfect Leather Jacket

How Nour Hammour Thrived Off of Creating the Perfect Leather Jacket

PARIS — Can you create a business out of a single — and very familiar — clothing item?
Parisian label Nour Hammour, known for its customizable leather jackets, has been doing just that ever since its launch in 2013.
What started as a small project, with cofounders Erin Conry Webb and Nour Hammour customizing leather pieces for friends, has evolved into a thriving business with an impressive fan base — Kaia Gerber, the Hadid sisters and Hailey Bieber included.
Their focused approach was also one of the reasons the label could keep evolving and growing, despite the multitude of hurdles imposed by the pandemic and prolonged lockdowns.
“During COVID-19, we saw our sales literally take off. We watched in amazement, as we were [selling] 10 times as much as our pre-COVID-19 sales goal. I think women wanted to invest in their wardrobe with a beautiful heirloom piece — customized to their perfect fit — and leather is one of the only materials that actually gets better with time,” said Conry Webb, adding that the label was able to keep production going throughout 2020 by overnighting all its patterns to its workshop in Turkey just as rumors about the first lockdown hit France.

A look from Nour Hammour’s fall collection. 
Walter Pierre/Courtesy of Nour Hammour

“We managed to shift our distribution ratio from 80 percent wholesale and 20 percent direct-to-consumer to 80 percent direct-to-consumer and 20 percent wholesale,” Conry Webb noted.

Post-pandemic, the idea is to shift their focus entirely to the label’s burgeoning d-to-c business, with a new website in the works and a return to trunk shows and pop-up shops that allow for more intimacy between designers and customers.
The duo is already back on the event trail, with a pop-up hosted in L.A. — where retail is open and life has resumed — at the end of March.
That city’s “It” girls have always had a soft spot for the label, even if Hammour and Conry Webb always made a point not to invest in paid celebrity or influencer marketing.
“I think what is important is when a celebrity wears a brand because they love it and want to wear it. We launched at a time when this new generation of models took over the runways. The leather jacket has always been considered a ‘model off-duty’ uniform and that’s why we became popular during Paris Fashion Week. Now, a few years later, any time Kaia, Kendall or Gigi wear a piece — we see women wanting to wear the same jacket and stores wanting to stock it,” said Conry Webb.

“But we’ve also been working a lot with CEOs and female doctors. We really have loved seeing the increase in demand from these women, over the last year.”
The fact that everyone is always searching for the perfect leather jacket is one part of the label’s success formula.
“Leather jackets have long been a staple, but up until a certain point you’d only see either these stiff, rigid, hard motorcycle jackets that were really hard to wear and make it impossible to move comfortably, or the super short, super stretched little jacket — we saw a niche for us, in creating these statement-looking pieces that were also really wearable, and soft and that you’d want to keep on the whole day,” said the duo, who make a point to offer expert fit and the softest leather in the market in order to stand out.

A look from Nour Hammour’s fall collection. 
Walter Pierre/Courtesy of Nour Hammour

At a time when fashion’s environmental impact is under more and more scrutiny, labels like Nour Hammour are also gaining relevance because of their no-waste, sustainable approaches.
The label only uses leather that is a byproduct of the meat industry and spearheads a zero-waste initiative dubbed Recut that involves the repurposing of discarded leather from production into new collections or smaller leather goods.
“This means we are creating the smallest environmental impact and the best working conditions for our artisans,” said the designers, who took a step back from big department store partnerships long before the pandemic hit and the wholesale model became an industry-wide issue. “We felt ourselves swept up in the demand of the large orders, designing more collections. And we also started to feel farther away from our clients.”

A look from Nour Hammour’s fall collection. 
Walter Pierre/Courtesy of Nour Hammour

They also make a point to work with leather masters in small workshops in Paris and Turkey, who can create pieces on a made-to-measure basis, instead of demanding large orders. This means the brand holds no inventory of leather jackets or accessories: An item only goes into production once an order arrives via the site and workshops can generally produce within three to five days.
With sales increasing and a strong production system in place, the designers are gaining confidence, experimenting more with their image, and broadening their range to include more shearling outerwear as well as knitwear.
Speaking from the brand’s atelier-cum-showroom in Paris, the designers said that after endless work amid lockdown, they are now ready to present a fall 2021 they are proud of: “This time we are going to present a new image, more feminine and sexy,” said Conry Webb.
“Sexy” is something the duo has usually been shying away from, fearing the association sexiness with leather was overused. But now that they’ve established their image with a mostly genderless, androgynous look, they are confident enough to try new things.

A look from Nour Hammour’s fall collection. 
Walter Pierre/Courtesy of Nour Hammour

The new collection, which has been picked up by retailers Luisa Via Roma and Forward.com, also features cocoon jackets and cozy silhouettes in an array of earth tones, neutrals and the occasional pop of color: “Right now people want to feel hugged, comforted, as if they’re wearing a safety blanket — but still with an edgy touch. Just like this leather trench coat embellished with Swarovski crystals,” said Hammour. Another standout was an olive shearling coat that felt light as a feather.
While the brand remains mainly focused on the women’s outerwear category, the duo doesn’t rule out expanding further. They successfully launched knitwear last year and have seen increased demand for custom bridal pieces, as well as men’s wear. “We don’t have a rule book — outerwear is what we love to design, but sometimes we want to have some fun with super embellished party dresses.  When we started in 2013, there were two to three leather jackets that were worn by all the “It”girls in Paris — so we were really driven by finding a uniqueness. We wanted to create a niche brand of leather jackets for women that makes them stand out from the crowd.”
See Also:
Paris Fashion Week Fall 2021 Accessories: Revenge Heels, Mini Bags and Optimism Return
French Girl Style Emerges From Paris Fashion Week With Extra Polish
Fashion Envy: What Designers Wish They’d Invented

Lineapelle Digital-Only Edition Shows Potential of Italian Tanneries

Lineapelle Digital-Only Edition Shows Potential of Italian Tanneries

MILAN — When leather trade show Lineapelle announced in February that a physical edition slated for March 23 and 24 had to be moved online in the wake of surging COVID-19 cases in Italy and a slow-paced vaccination campaign, it was hard to predict how much the virtual fair — set up in less than two months — could manage to replace the usual IRL rendition.
Yet organizers were able to transfer the showcase of Italian tanneries by setting up a platform filled with webinars and digital interview-style presentations of the spring 2022 collections from 174 leading companies. The Meet and Match platform aimed at fostering conversations between industry professionals and offering business opportunities was flanked by the 365 Showroom, a marketplace displaying key products from each company along the same lines of what other trade fairs, including Milano Unica, Pitti Connect and Première Vision, have done.

Against the backdrop of a fragile economy and an uncertain landscape, tanneries presented reassuring spring 2022 collections, focusing on tactile and earth-toned hides that exuded a cocooning vibe. Natural shades like tan, chocolate brown and tangerine stood out at the digital fair, with suede and grainy cow or goat hides appearing in the collections of several exhibitors.
The sector as a whole has been underperforming in recent years, impacted by an economic instability that was already casting a shadow on leather sales before the pandemic hit. The appeal of real leather was also undermined by cost-containment measures implemented by mass market players.

Scuppered by the COVID-19 outbreak, 2020 made no exception.
“At the tail end of 2020 we were hopeful enough about the sector, but the first months of this year have already signaled a complex and lackluster outlook for Italian tanneries,” said Fabrizio Nuti, president of Unic, the association gathering the country’s tanneries. “Business is showing a spotty performance and unreasonable increased costs of raw materials, chemical compounds and transportation are worrying in that they might undermine a potential recovery,” he added.
According to preliminary figures provided by Unic in the January to November period last year, the Italian tannery sector is expected to close 2020 with sales down 26 percent compared to a year earlier, signaling a downturn in global consumption of leather products across sectors, with hides destined for fashion decreasing by 30 percent.
Reiterating the resilience and strength of the sector despite the hurdles, Nuti underscored that it’s hard to make predictions for 2021 as the performances of the main sectors the tannery industry serves, including fashion, design and automotive, are still uncertain.
According to the latest Bain & Co. Luxury Study in collaboration with Fondazione Altagamma, the leather goods category is expected to be among the first product categories to see a rebound in 2021, growing 16 percent compared to 2020 and returning this year to pre-pandemic levels, while ready-to-wear and shoes — on track to increase 14 percent — have yet to gain back lost market shares.
WWD surfed the Lineapelle Meet and Match Digital platform looking for the key leather trends for spring 2022.

Thick and textured hides and soft, malleable versions were equally popular at the fair, both exuding a tactile feel. The spring 2022 collection from Tuscany-based Sciarada included the Derma Line, full-grain hides suitable for women’s leather goods, and the Piuma calf option featuring a bigger grain that’s appropriate for men’s items, while the Velvina reversed calf and Satin baby calf were softer options for shoes and handbags.

The Sciarada “Satin” baby calf reverse suede. 
Courtesy of Sciarada.

Over at Conceria Gaiera Giovanni SpA, which was acquired last year by Chanel, Chicca Miramonti, among the company’s owners, explained that the focus for spring 2022 was on exalting the natural qualities of lamb and nappa leather, which was rendered locally in a broad range of colors. The thin Pashmina lambskin looked particularly soft and perfect for rtw pieces and in sync with the season’s mood.
Metal-free hides are becoming a true market standard, as companies continue to invest in sustainability by reducing chemical compounds, especially chrome, employed in the tanning process.
At Conceria Gaiera Giovanni, metal-free options were luxurious, soft and available in similar shades as regular hides, a testament to the company’s efforts in research and development and achievements in color fastness. Miramonti said blending high-tech sustainability with performance without sacrificing the natural look and feel of skins is a challenging process.
Similarly, Sciarada’s chief executive officer Simone Castellani underscored the eight-year research put into the Evolo line of eco-friendly suede. Based on circularity, hides are partly crafted from regenerated suede coming from pre-consumer waste without adding chrome to the production process. Boasting the Bureau Veritas certification, it allowed the company to save 66 percent of previous water consumption, 36 percent of chemicals and halved carbon dioxide emissions, all while requiring 10 production steps instead of the 16 needed for regular suede.
Meanwhile, the Cuoio di Toscana consortium of seven tanneries based in the Tuscany region proved the versatility of their outsole leather tanned with bio-based compounds derived from chestnut and quebracho trees or mimosa flowers for a capsule collection of accessories, including sunglasses, leather goods and shoes, developed in partnership with Milan-based stylist Simone Guidarelli.
Some companies have experimented with innovative and high-tech solutions to enhance leather performances by employing unexpected materials and compounds.
Conceria Nuvolari, a small, Marche-based company with a start-up mind-set, applied innovative treatments to its signature sheep and goatskins. For example, by using a graphene coating, leather boasts scratch-resistant and breathable qualities while achieving a 99.99 percent antibacterial property, a feature that has surged in demand across the entire fashion textile and material sector.

The Nuvolari “Neptune” range of water-resistent leather hides. 
Courtesy of Nuvolari.

Along the same performance-driven lines, it introduced the Neptune range, boasting a tenfold water repellency that makes it perfect for outerwear. Additionally, by leveraging its Nature-L proprietary tanning technique, introduced three years ago, Conceria Nuvolari managed to offer a chrome-free and 80 percent biodegradable leather that was assessed for the LCA certification by the Politecnico di Milano University.
Working a range of doubles, Sicerp combined suede and cowhides with other materials in order to enhance their performances. For instance, the tannery based in the outskirts of Milan employed recycled split suede coming from its own production of stretch leather, combining it recycled Lycra, denim and net, the latter aimed at sneakers and other footwear styles.
See also:
Milano Unica Highlights Key Textile Trends for Spring 2022
Tactile Fabrics, Performance Among Key Trends at Spring 2022 Première Vision Paris
Pitti Filati at Second Digital Test: Getting Better but Still Improvable

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