Roberto Cavalli owner touts his brand’s growth potential – WWD


MILAN The day after the Roberto Cavalli show in Milan, President Hussain Sajwani, who owns the brand through his private investment company Vision Investments, feels lucky.

“You need a dose of luck, success can’t just be based on intellect,” he said, referring to hiring Fausto Puglisi to design the brand in October 2020. “I don’t I’m no fashion expert,” he admitted, “but a lot of my decisions are based on my intuition and in my 40 years in the business eight out of 10 times I’m right. When I first spoke to Fausto, I saw his drive, his desire and his passion, his commitment and drive, which leads to success. He does a fantastic job, and in fact his collections turned out to be even better than I expected.

Sajwani praised not only Puglisi’s design chops, but also his marketing skills and ability to build celebrity relationships. Indeed, by browsing the creator’s Instagram feed, it is easy to spot personalities like Jennifer Lopez or Gwen Stefani wearing his looks.

As Booth Moore, WWD’s West Coast Editor, said in her Fall 2022 review, “In her first year of Cavalli collections, [Puglisi] has reinvigorated the brand, and with this release seems to have brought all the pieces together – sizzling eveningwear, strong tailoring, sexy knits and animal prints galore, all designed with a multi-generational and diverse clientele at the mind.

Sajwani, founder and chairman of Dubai-based real estate giant Damac Properties, acquired the company from Clessidra SGR in 2019 after the company filed a restructuring plan with the Milan court and a “composition with creditors” allowing the company to continue while it engages in discussions with creditors and puts in place a debt restructuring plan.

The COVID-19 pandemic has slowed the brand’s business expansion that Sajwani was planning with chief executive Ennio Fontana, but he now hopes it can finally be implemented. A new boutique has just opened at the Bal Harbor Shops in Miami. Covering 1,317 sq. golden metal. Custom-designed rugs with animal motifs reflect Cavalli’s signature designs.

Sajwani is eyeing locations in New York, Los Angeles and Las Vegas, as well as Europe, which along with the United States and the Middle East is a key market for the brand. Stores in Spain and Monte Carlo are in the works, all with a new store concept, “elegant, clean, simple and welcoming”, he proposed. “We don’t need huge spaces, we’re looking for medium-sized rooms, around 3,240 square feet is enough.”

The new Roberto Cavalli boutique in Miami.
image courtesy of Roberto Cavalli

At the same time, the company is also reviewing and building its wholesale channel and online store with an in-house team. “Early next year, we will see a double-digit contribution from our online store,” he predicted.

The focus will be on Asia next year, as the goal is first to strengthen Europe and the United States, he explained.

As news of the Russian invasion of Ukraine began to spread on Thursday, when asked about the potential impact on the brand and on Damac, Sajwani said he had “no business in Russia or Ukraine, but we are a global company”. For example, we are building a resort in the Maldives, with Mandarin Oriental. We have not yet seen the result and how things will develop. I hope that diplomacy and common sense will be [help put an end to the war].”

Hussain Sajwani

Hussain Sajwani
image courtesy of Roberto Cavalli

Next year, the company will also benefit from the internalization of production of the Just Cavalli brand. The label was produced and distributed under a license agreement with Staff International, controlled by Diesel owner OTB. (OTB was also in the running to buy the Cavalli brand).

“It will be great to have Just Cavalli under one umbrella,” Sajwani said. While several luxury companies have chosen to focus on a single brand, he believes the move makes good business sense and there is “still room to grow” for both a premium collection and for a younger sister line.

He believes the iconic brand can capitalize on its diverse product offering, from its fragrances and children’s clothing to its accessories. The focus this year will be on ready-to-wear, and its intention is to take its positioning even higher.

“One category that didn’t market well was the home line,” lamented Sajwani, who plans dedicated stores. “It’s amazing and we’ll focus on that next year.”

Damac is planning a 70-storey residential building on Dubai Marina, overlooking the Palm Jumeirah, called Cavalli Tower, which will be furnished with items from the brand’s home division.

The residential project will offer 485 luxury units offering various top-of-the-range services, including a seafront view; access to a sky pool and a garden, as well as an infinity pool for residents of one of the 70 apartments in the upper part of the tower, labeled “super luxury”. Designed by architect Shaun Killa, the skyscraper is to offer amenities such as a butler, babysitters, personal trainers, as well as chefs and in-home medical assistance.

Damac is investing $600 million in property development, and Sajwani said 80% of apartments sold within two weeks. Sajwani has a proven track record in property developments for Italian fashion houses, having teamed up with Versace and Fendi.

Hotels and resorts are also a possibility for Cavalli Home, he said. A new Cavalli Café is also in preparation in Milan.

“This is a global brand that has been through severe financial difficulties, but our goal is to bring it back to where it was and beyond. Its brand value and legacy are strong,” he said. declared.

When asked if he would consider buying other fashion brands, Sajwani said that Damac, which also invests in technology and private equity, “is open if there is an opportunity and if the price is right, but we don’t look at this possibility every morning”.

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