Costume makers faced with lax sartorial practices

Clark Gable loved it. Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin too. But now Brioni is struggling. The Italian costume brand, a subsidiary of the French group Kering, is finalizing a vast plan to reduce its workforce in Italy. The firm revealed on October 21 that 220 of the 321 people affected by its restructuring have signed a voluntary departure agreement. In April, Brioni announced that it wanted to cut 321 jobs by 2025 in its factories in Penne, Montebello di Bertona and Civitella Casanova, in the Abruzzo region, which together have more than a thousand employees.

These measures are part of a relaunch plan for the brand acquired by the group chaired by François-Henri Pinault, in 2011, when its debt reached 100 million euros. Ten years later, despite three artistic direction changes, the brand is still in dire financial straits. To the chagrin of staff representatives, who, according to the Italian press, pointed out the lack of a relaunch strategy for the Italian brand long before the crisis due to Covid-19 broke out.

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In this country where fashion has a turnover of 80 billion euros and employs 500,000 people, Brioni’s difficulties are causing a stir. Especially since the luxury male brand is not the only one in pain. Corneliani, another figure in Italy’s men’s clothing industry, escaped bankruptcy in June. His competitor, Pal Zileri, is also in a difficult situation. Owned by the Qatari fund Mayhoola for Investment, holding company of Valentino and Balmain, the brand is undergoing major changes to make more room “To the sportswear collections”, announced its managing director, Leo Scordo, in an interview with the Italian news site MFF.

Relaunch in China

Because times are tough for costume makers and their distributors. The containment measures adopted in several countries in 2020 and 2021, to fight against the spread of the coronavirus, have prompted executives to put their suits away to put on canvas pants, a polo shirt and a sweater during their telecommuting sessions and video conferences. . And, despite a face-to-face return, they have retained many of their clothing habits.

Especially since the relaxation of dress codes in the office was already at work before the crisis due to Covid-19. In the United States, in March 2019, Goldman Sachs bank caused a sensation by easing its dress code and by allowing its 36,000 employees to come to the office without a tie. Two years later, throughout the Western world, sales of statutory clothing, of which costume is the centerpiece, are in decline. In the UK, sales fell 29% in 2020, according to Mintel.

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