Ferrari’s Brand Diversification Takes Shape

·7 min read

MILAN — It’s hard to argue with Rocco Iannone’s opening remarks. “Ferrari is mythical,” said the brand diversification creative director. “Ferrari’s community recognizes itself in a series of values that is unique to the label and that need to be understood to be translated into fashion.”

On Sunday, this translation will be unveiled with Ferrari’s first runway fashion show in Maranello, at the headquarters of the storied luxury sports car maker. Iannone, who was tapped to the role in November 2019, will present the brand’s fashion manifesto with a collection for men, women and children. However, in an exclusive preview interview here, both Iannone and Nicola Boari, chief brand diversification officer, underscored that Ferrari’s new statement is meant to reflect a lifestyle label rather than a fashion one.

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Boari initiated the project two-and-a-half years ago with chairman John Elkann, with the goal to “put brand diversification in order. It was an opportunity but also an urgent necessity.” Boari, who joined Ferrari in 2010 as director of product marketing and market analysis, said brand diversification, including licenses and merchandising, was estimated to total 1 billion euros at retail value in 2019. However, product and distribution were not up to Ferrari’s standards, he emphasized.

In 12 to 18 months, he closed 50 percent of stores, slashing licenses and reducing the offer. “We perceived there was legitimacy in launching a luxury apparel collection and that it was not an excessive stretch that would damage the value of the brand. But we needed to proceed with a carefully controlled and precise plan, much more so than in the past,” Boari explained. As a result, he projects this business could account for 10 percent of Ferrari’s profitability within the next seven to 10 years.

Iannone joined Ferrari from Pal Zileri, where he was creative director. Previously, he was head men’s designer at Giorgio Armani and before that, designer at Dolce & Gabbana. Boari said he chose Iannone because of his experience in luxury fashion, but also because of his “ability and humility to interpret Ferrari without overshadowing it. He is the most rational creative designer I know. It’s not so easy to approach Ferrari, which is a super solid brand, thick with history and personal relationships. It needs to be studied and understood and we needed to find a person that had the right curiosity to do so.”

Iannone said he was drawn by the idea of “telling the story of the impact Ferrari has on the collective culture through a global project and give life to the charisma and magnetism of this brand.” He said he would not have been interested in creating a few luxury items as niche products for the brand and that he was attracted by the rounded fashion and lifestyle project illustrated by Boari.

Further signaling the strategy, to present the collection the company is staging a Ferrari experience over the weekend, ranging from a visit to the storied and legendary manufacturing plant and the two Ferrari museums to the reopening of the famed Cavallino restaurant in Maranello, which was favored by the late founder Enzo Ferrari and countless race drivers and jet-set figures. The restaurant is in collaboration with three-Michelin-star chef Massimo Bottura and is designed by architect India Mahdavi.

Ferrari has opened its first offices in Milan, in a sleek and modern, newly renovated building in a strategic position in the city, in Via Broletto, not far from the Duomo cathedral and the artsy Brera district. “We know how important the city is for fashion and we are opening the company to its influences, efficiency and professionalism,” said Boari.

Ferrari’s flagship in Milan with 14 windows in a neoclassic building near the luxury shopping arcade Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is being renovated with the help of London-based Sybarite architectural studio. The new store concept will be unveiled in August, preceded by a temporary unit at the end of this month. Currently, there are 20 Ferrari stores globally, of which 12 are directly operated and eight are outlets. The new blueprint will be extended to the two existing stores in Rome in September. In August, the company will open a unit on Rodeo Drive in Los Angeles, replacing a previous banner, and one in Aventura Mall in Miami.

The collection, which is not seasonal, will be sold through six drops throughout the year until next June. The first will be online and in stores starting on June 14, including the Maranello unit that opens that day. This month, it will also be available on LuisaViaRoma and, from September, on Farfetch. Ferrari will also launch a partnership with Highsnobiety.

Next year, Ferrari will start distributing the collection very selectively at wholesale and in multibrand stores in Europe and in the U.S. It will also enter China through a joint venture.

Outerwear will retail at between 1,500 and 2,000 euros; sneakers at between 600 to 700 euros, and leather goods and accessories at around 1,000 euros.

The show on Sunday is not a one-off, as Ferrari plans to hold one on a yearly basis, as well as events for communication and marketing purposes. The company is also launching dedicated social media channels under the Ferrari Style moniker.

Boari and Iannone underscored that Ferrari has a dual soul — in Formula One race cars as well as sports cars — and has always been both exclusive and inclusive, with fans of the sports admiring the street versions, for example. With this project, the company is also reaching out to a new audience — women and the younger generations. Women have long loved Ferrari, said Iannone, noting that Academy Award winner Anna Magnani was the first female customer.

“It’s not an issue of brand awareness, but we are looking at ways to talk to them through their passion for fashion and lifestyle,” said Boari. “We drove ourselves to look at the brand from the outside. Our values, though, will always be present, whether in cars, apparel or accessories: style and elegance, linked to craftsmanship, research and materials; performance because any detail needs to have a function, and innovation. In the case of fashion, this means unexpected materials but they must be legitimate and understandable.”

The license with Puma for Scuderia Ferrari connected to Formula One products remains in existence, as does the newly signed multiyear Giorgio Armani sponsorship of the racing team. Under the agreement, the fashion house is to supply formal attire to the Ferrari team’s management, drivers and technicians to be worn at official events and during transfers linked to Formula One’s Grand Prix international races. Emporio Armani sponsors the travel wear range.

Iannone set about “disciplining” the work, given the past collections’ more diversified range. His lineup will feature a revisited prancing horse logo and will be developed internally and produced by luxury suppliers in Italy, each specialized in single categories and craftsmanship.

The designer took into consideration Ferrari’s signature car volumes, ergonomic shapes and innovative technology, and the brand’s connection with the media, cinema, art, music and television over the years, as well as its links to Italy and the region and to the aesthetics of the nearby city of Modena. But he wanted to make sure the project was “rooted yet forward-looking and contemporary, a window open onto the world, and not static” or nostalgic.

He based the collection on four main values — performance, innovation, aesthetics and craftsmanship. Color is key, from what is called the “Modena yellow” to the iconic Ferrari red, as well as luxury fabrics, manual craftsmanship and haute couture elements, while always at the service of functionality.

“We moved from a merchandising approach to a design approach as we want the collection to be recognizable through precise aesthetics and not because it has a logo,” said Iannone.

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