Enzo Fusco, an expert fashion, denim and sportswear designer and entrepreneur, has acquired 50% of the longtime US uniform manufacturer Blauer, which had Fusco’s company, FGF Industry, as its fashion-collection licensee for 16 years. Here, Fusco explains his future plans and how he succeeded in acquiring his portion of Blauer.
How did you succeed in acquiring half of Blauer?
I started working with Blauer, the historical manufacturer that produces uniforms and utility apparel for the US police and other corps, in 2001.
I have always been a fan of this company as I have been collecting vintage garments–and especially military apparel pieces since the 1980s. Consider that I own 30,000 pieces and among them there are also some rare Blauer items.
As I created a collection that didn’t exist before–in fact I invented a fashion interpretation of Blauer functional military apparel–and I invested quite a lot through the years in growing this project, I felt I deserved to become a shareholder.
I have also always kept a very friendly relationship with the Blauer family, the same one that founded the company in 1936. I had asked them if I could have bought the brand for a while, though I never succeeded.
What made them change their mind?
Above all, that change in attitude happened in September 2016 when I organized a huge party during the Venice International Movie Festival, celebrating the 80th anniversary of the brand. I invited cool VIPs and insiders in an amazing location on the “laguna” with a great style celebration...
How did you arrange the brand’s new asset?
We have founded together a new company–BWF (Blauer World Fashion) Srl with legal head offices in Turin, Italy. Each of us owns 50% of the company and each will continue focusing on a specific part–I will manage design, production and selling the fashion-inspired brand and the Blauer family will continue to manage the US policemen, firemen and similar heavy-duty apparel. Each of us will receive royalties from both brand offspring’s worldwide revenues.
This agreement was not an easy one to reach. I could better concentrate on my aim to acquire Blauer only after I had sold the C.P. Company brand in 2015. I had bought it in 2010, though had too much to take care of. I must say I wished C.P. good luck when I sold it to Tristate Holding as I heard it is growing very successfully now!
What plans will you focus on to further develop the brand?
During the last edition of Milan Fashion Week I have just launched Blauer United, our first Blauer United twin fragrance for men and women, produced by Venice Olfactory specialist. I like to recall what writer C. JoyBell C. used to say: “You are never dressed up completely without wearing a fragrance.” For this reason I am very happy for this agreement and for these two fresh and contemporary fragrances. This step completes our own brand’s visibility as we had already started offering footwear, eyewear ands accessories, though fragrances were missing.
How will the brand expand worldwide?
Starting from 2018 we want to enter the US, Japanese and Korean markets first and then, in a second phase, also enter the Chinese one. Starting from f/w 2018-19 we will expand in the US first via e-commerce and through temporary stores and not through the conventional path of direct sale. In any case I can also later work through a local partner thanks to our strong tie with the Blauer family operating there.
We want to expand to Asia by entering shopping malls and opening our own shop-in-shops. We can count on very good contacts as they are already selling our own brand TenC.
Then, for expanding in China we need to find a partner both for producing there and for opening monobrand shops.
In June 2017 you have launched this upmarket street-oriented Nylolite by Blauer capsule collection. Was it successful?
Yes. Already 50 multibrand shops between Italy and Europe, plus five stores in the US have placed their orders. According to many that collection had too wintery a look but they appreciated the new step I took. It helped me recall attention from higher-end clients and for upgrading a part of its offer. My aim is to sell it to about 200 stores by s/s 2019.
What goals do you aim to reach?
By end 2017 I expect to register €50 million (which means €45 million plus revenues from licenses), while by 2022 we want to double sales and go beyond €100 million. We are now selling the brand to about 1,500 doors and aim to reach at least 2,000 ones, although we have also started selling online through the Zalando platform….
How important is online?
It is indispensable. We have already registered a 150% increase thanks to our e-shop and we expect to reach €2 million online sales by 2019. And consider our e-commerce is only selling in Europe. This will grow further when our e-commerce platforms work in Asia and America.
I think that the ideal ratio for distributing ourselves would be selling 30% via monobrand stores, about 40% via corners or multibrand stores and another 30% via e-commerce.
Will you open monobrand stores?
For sure. I would like to open in Tokyo, New York, Paris and London. They would add to the already existing five ones we run in Italy in Milan, Padua, Cortina D’Ampezzo, Genoa and Olbia. Though we must take one step at a time as it is very expensive opening them!
What are the characteristics of your collection? To whom are you selling most?
I sell 60% to men and 40% to women, though I aim to reach a 50-50 ratio. I think that today the market of down jackets is mostly offering either very basic products or very fashion ones. I think that the market needs modern basic products –as I am doing–of very good quality at affordable prices. Plus I also offer a very vast offer–which is also crucial for our philosophy and makes us so successful. Plus in the market there are many products for women and not as many for men. And we are very strong for our men’s collection.
We offer a 300-piece total look of which 70% of our sales are outer jackets. Our aim is to first deliver down jackets to stores in the beginning of the season–to recall attention on single pieces–and later deliver the rest of the collection.