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More drama than La Scala! Italian men's brands part with creative heads

David Watts
01 February 2016

As the dust only just settles on the London, Milan and Paris menswear fashion weeks, it's being reported today that a big drama in Italian menswear is playing out behind the scenes. Reports suggest that Stefano Pilati, creative director of Ermenegildo Zegna, Brendan Mullane, creative director of Brioni and Alessandro Sartori, creative director of Berluti, are all parting company with their respective brands and that their AW16 collections will be their last.

Italian menswear is considered to be some of the finest tailoring in the world, but Milan has also been trying to shake off the media reputation of being "too classic and staid" with its menswear offer. That has resulted in the radical design shake-up and a most energised DNA brought to these three menswear brands in the past few years. So what's gone wrong?


Sartori: amicable departure from Berluti

Italians are incredibly brand loyal, so these labels have a very important home market to service.  However, the Italian consumer has rather classic and quite conservative taste when it comes to menswear. Added to this, the luxury price points for these brands are very high, so the average customer is likely to be 40-plus in age and not the most dedicated follower of fashion.

Mullane: standing down at Brioni

Mullane: standing down at Brioni

One suspects that the fashion-led offering from these brands has pulled too far ahead of the classic taste of the core customer, and has in turn affected sales detrimentally. It is such a fine line between being "fashion-led" and not alienating your classic customer; these three designers have had a tightrope walk to keep the fashion press happy and to keep merchandisers on-side too.

There could be other reasons for the departures that may come to light in time, as it has been suggested Mullane's and Sartori's departures are amicable, but no comment or confirmation of Pilati's exit from Ermenegildo Zegna has been forthcoming.


Pilati: no comment from Zegna


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