Things are looking good for Ports 1961, the subsidiary of Hong Kong-based fashion retailer Ports Design Ltd., after the brand’s move to Milan two years ago.
Ports’ business has been a rocky road since the company’s inception in the 1960s. In 2004, the company finally established itself as an independent premium marque based in New York City, and achieved international fame two years later when its clothes were featured in the hit film The Devil Wears Prada. Growth of the business continued to lag, however, and in 2012 the company moved to the fashion hub of Italy.
The move was crucial for the brand, as luxury growth overall has slowed in the Chinese market. The government’s crackdown on luxury consumption and the country’s slowing economy have made it difficult business terrain for luxury brands.
According to Chief Executive Salem Cibani, however, Ports’ growth in Europe has been “substantial.” The company is building a considerable reputation for its womenswear and has recently introduced a menswear line as well. Design and production takes place entirely within Italy, and the company also recently entered its fifth season of showing in Milan.
“We are building a good base and awareness,” Cibani said in an interview with AFP at a recent showing of the brand’s spring/summer 2015 womenswear collection. “I think in the very near future we are going to see some substantial growth.”
Though Cibani says that “Europe for us is growing the most” right now, he remains optimistic about Ports’ prospects in China, despite the fact that the brand’s performance in the country caused shares in its parent company to drop by more than half since the end of 2013.
“Definitely there has been a market contraction (in China) and nobody is immune from that,” Cibani said. “But I think we’re pretty well positioned for that. I think a lot of the logo-ed bags brands were the ones that were hit the hardest. It became a problem to carry those logos, but when you are wearing clothing you don’t know where it is from. It is something beautiful, something very necessary. So we have actually been able to weather the storm pretty nicely.”
image credit: ports