Krizia, one of Italy’s most influential and successful ready-to-wear fashion brands, has just found new ownership in China.
After six decades, Krizia’s founder, Mariucca Mandelli, has sold her company to Chinese fashion retailer Shenzhen Marisfrolg Fashion Co. Ltd. The transaction is expected to be effective in late spring. Marisfrolg’s owner, the entrepreneur Zhu Chongyun, will become creative director and chairwoman of the company. Although Marisfrolg is based in Shenzhen, Krizia will continue to operate from Milan. The label’s first collection under new ownership will also be released there.
Now in her 80s, the somewhat reclusive Mandelli said in an interview with Women’s Wear Daily that she was “delighted” to pass the torch, and that Zhu has “strength and talent and is willing to lead Krizia’s international growth. This is good for everyone.”
A market source echoed Mandelli’s comments, characterizing Zhu as “a woman with a strong vision and an incredible capacity of understanding where fashion is going. Her style is feminine and flattering. She is the perfect one to give Krizia an international and modern flavor.”
With both Mandelli and her husband and business partner, Aldo Pinto, aging and fighting health issues, the brand is ready for a new direction. Krizia hit its peak during the Nineties, when Mandelli and Pinto developed Krizia into a $500 million enterprise with global influence, with boutiques in the top shopping districts of cities like Paris, Venice, London, New York, and Hong Kong. In 2003, Krizia had 30 brand stores and 400 multibrand clients in Japan alone.
Business has slowed since then, and the brand’s volume is “now believed to be miniscule,” with its “stately palazzo” for fashion shows and Milan store among its limited assets. It is only natural for the brand to find a successor to restore and boost Krizia to its former glory, which Marisfrolg seems poised to do.
Since its founding in 1993, Marisfrolg Fashion has become a force to be reckoned with in Chinese luxury fashion, reporting sales of 2.56 billion yuan ($418 million) in 2013. The business group runs “more than 400 directly operated stores that carry the high-end, contemporary Marisfrolg brand in top-end shopping malls and department stores in China, South Korea, Singapore and Macau.” Although Krizia products will not be sold in these venues, Zhu is “expected to revamp the brand,” opening new Krizia stores in Shenzhen, Chengdu, Guangzhou, Shanghai, and Beijing and reopening outlets in the U.S., Europe, and Japan over the next five years.
According to Milan-based marketing and strategic consultant Armando Mammina, Krizia’s “more contemporary stylistic totems, such as the animal knitwear” give the brand an advantage over competitors that have been relaunched in recent years, like Schiaparelli and Vionnet. This current relevance “can be leveraged for a faster relaunch and repositioning of Krizia.” Mammina also noted the brand’s success in licensing outside of its core business, and said that “picking them up again and creating new ones can bolster Krizia’s identity and be a business developer.”
For her part, Zhu, a longtime fan of her predecessor’s “pioneering work,” said she was “proud to take on the baton and help drive the Krizia myth — and business — to new heights.”
image credit: krizia