Last week, the long-established Italian fashion label Salvatore Ferragamo announced that it was changing its name. From now on, it will be known simply as FERRAGAMO. The new moniker comes with a rebranded logo, designed by the famous graphic designer Peter Saville, in a simple serif font that reflects the house’s classy identity. To mark the occasion, FERRAGAMO launched a new flagship color registered in Pantone with the color number 3546C: a deep, emotive red.
All eyes were on the brand’s recent outing at Milan Fashion Week, as the event represented the debut of the label’s new creative director, Maximilian Davis. The decision to officially announce the name change at the opening of the schedule’s proceedings naturally increased expectations.
FERRAGAMO Spring/Summer 2023 debuted on September 24, 1:30 p.m. local time, at the historic site of the seminary of the Archdiocese of Milan. It was a dialogue between the classic and the contemporary, where elegant traditions were reimagined through fearless, pioneering perspectives. As the new brand color illuminated the mysterious atmosphere of the seminary building, guests watched as the connections between FERRAGAMO and Hollywood played out in a new light.
Milan’s historical seminary site gets a Hollywood makeover
Davis explained how he “wanted to take a new perspective on Hollywood culture and pay homage to the origins of the FERRAGAMO brand.” From Salvatore Ferragamo’s 1959 heels for Marilyn Monroe to the 1988 Wanda bag, the young designer had dug into FERRAGAMO’s 95-year-old brand archives to reinterpret Hollywood classics with a contemporary aesthetic.
The setting similarly had all the grandeur of the golden age of cinema. Passing through the imposing baroque entrance, you see a magnificent courtyard of about 3,000 square meters surrounded by a double colonnade. Red scrim fills the gaps between the upper and lower levels, and pillars become the brushstrokes outlining the geometric contours of classical architecture. Red, a symbol of the maison’s renewal, also spreads out onto the floor, where the vermilion stone becomes a blank canvas for capturing human footprints: after the show, the steps of the models, the caress of the clothes, and the footprints of the visitors were all recorded on this fine red stone.
This venue, the former seminary of the Archbishop at Venice Boulevard No.11, will be transformed at the end of November into Portrait Milano, the new hotel of the Ferragamo family’s hotel group Lungarno Collection. Built in 1564, the building is one of the oldest seminaries in Europe and lies at the heart of Milan’s fashion district. The monumental and dramatic nature of the architecture will carry the spirit of the brand — both merging art of the past with modern lifestyle — and serve as a bridge between the city and its historical glory.
Alongside the signature red, optical white, deep indigo, cream, sky blue, and other colors from the Sunset Series by artist Rachel Harrison can be found in the collection’s gradient prints and hand-dyed fabrics. Organza and cotton poplin — loose, slim, and translucent — swayed before the backdrop of fine red sand. Here, the drama of the event was offset by the collection’s references to lazy comfort, to beach-holiday romance, to summer and sand. Davis sums it up best: “the show is as casual and sexy as possible.”
Bringing new blood to the century-old fashion house
This season marks the official start of FERRAGAMO’s rebranding journey led by its new creative director. The young British designer, a graduate of the London College of Fashion, was born in a Trinidad-Jamaican family in Manchester who encouraged his early talent. At the age of only 26, Davis is already a design star — winning the hearts of celebrities like Rihanna, Dua Lipa, Kim Kardashian, and many more.
The much-anticipated event demonstrated how he would integrate his personal style into the Italian brand’s DNA. “Sandstone is closely related to FERRAGAMO, Hollywood, and the sea, and has a strong bond with me,” said Davis. “In Caribbean culture, the ocean is a place that inspires thought and feeling. I wanted to explain the meaning of the sea to Caribbean culture from FERRAGAMO’s perspective.”
Davis is not the only new face at the firm. Last June, the Italian luxury outfit announced the appointment of Marco Gobbetti as its new CEO, who officially took office on January 1. Gobbetti has nearly 40 years of experience working with the LVMH group and is known for revitalizing companies and building them into global powerhouses.
In March, Gobbetti appointed Davis as the next creative director of FERRAGAMO, signaling the launch of a new product-oriented plan. Gobbetti said in the first quarter post-earnings meeting in May that the business plans to double its sales in four to five years and double its marketing communications expenses from 2023 onwards (eventually reaching 10 percent of sales). The enterprise is expected to invest €400 million (2.75 billion RMB) in-store refurbishments, technology, and supply chains between 2023 and 2026.
The appointment of Davis is an important part of FERRAGAMO’s strategy of reaching younger consumers, and the young designer is already living up to expectations by breathing life into the nearly century-old establishment. At the same time, Davis’ distinctive designs may boost sales in ready-to-wear, transforming its current situation where footwear and leather account for more than 80 percent of sales. The company wants to strike a balance between maintaining product sales and reducing reliance on one single category.
Driving high-end digital transformation
Undoubtedly, the world is experiencing a change in retail as the younger generation grows into the main consumer force — becoming a target group that the luxury industry cannot afford to ignore. They favor personalized, youthful design and appreciate a diversified consumer experience. Therefore, in addition to revamping its products, FERRAGAMO began its digital transformation a long time ago in order to conquer the high-end virtual battlefield.
Following the launch of its new official website in Europe and the United States, FERRAGAMO finished upgrading its Chinese website in 2020, completing the online shopping journey for mainland customers. The label has also been stationed on platforms such as Tmall Luxury, JD.com, and WeChat mini-program to meet the needs of domestic shoppers with a more localized service.
In July 2022, FERRAGAMO officially debuted on the Poizon APP with leather goods, shoes, handbags, and other multi-category products, and launched graphics, videos, and livestreams to connect with young locals. A month later, the brand announced a global strategic partnership with luxury e-commerce platform Farfetch to drive digital business growth and further develop its appeal with millennials and Gen Zers.
On its official Tmall flagship store, official WeChat mini-program, and official Weibo, FERRAGAMO delivered the livestream of its Spring/Summer 2023 show. Fashion bloggers @宇博gogoboi and @Fil小白, as well as stars such as Gulnazar, Chen Linong, Fu Jing, and Zhou Keyu, were invited to watch the show together offline to hype up the event. At the time of writing, the related Weibo posts have received 105,000 likes and 39,000 retweets; the Weibo topic reached 230 million hits; and the live show in collaboration with Tencent has received 27.84 million views in total. It is reported that the house also set up a WeChat group for senior media personnel for the first time, sharing runway clips in a timeline manner to maximize publicity.
And so FERRAGAMO’s strategy is proceeding according to plan — and with much success. Earlier this month, the group announced key figures for the first half of fiscal year 2022, with sales up 20.3 percent year-on-year to €630 million (4.3 billion RMB), above analysts’ expectations of €621 million. With the two-prong strategy of digitalization and targeting younger consumers, FERRAGAMO’s goal of doubling revenue within five years is within reach.