Founded back in 1972, Malo now has a new investor and CEO on board as well as ambitious plans for the international brand development and positioning as a modern luxury knitwear brand. Here, founder Giacomo Canessa explains in detail where the brand wants to be in the future.
Malo has a new investor on board. Who is the new investor and what comprises this new partnership in concrete terms?
My brother Alfredo and I founded the brand Malo in 1972. Together we brought it to the top of the market “niche” of the Cashmere world until the end of the ‘90s. In 2000 we sold it to an Italian textile entrepreneur.
Today with the arrival of a new Ownership, an international investment fund, we decided to re-launch the brand going through an obsessive care for quality, a new and style office and a top-quality, renovated total-look collection.
The coordination and combination of such elements give Malo big new energy, always followed by our mantra: “invisible luxury”.
Malo will evolve in the product area. Therefore also a new design team was put together. The Look Book collection actually appears already more modern. How will the products be designed in the future? What are the collection looks for new product groups, price ranges and materials?
The price point will not be “entry” but will allow many “entry prices”; Malo decided to develop both in terms of product and in terms of quality starting from the raw materials. We use only natural fibers of animal- or vegetable origins and we carefully select them to obtain the best possible quality. For example our Cashmere –we buy as a raw material from Inner Mongolia through a single supplier and with such a high quality that we could get the exclusivity and buy the complete production lot. This is even finer than the Baby Cashmere and soon we will reveal its name (14.8 micron, 38/40mm long, completely white).
Not to mention the outstanding Australian Merino wools that today nobody is using but that are so beautiful and soft that sometimes their touch is even softer than cashmere (14,5 micron).
In summer our exclusive Pacha Cotton coming from a fertile valley close to the Estuary of the Nile river is planted and grows in an atmosphere very close to the seaside and could almost be defined Sea Island instead of Mediterranean. Its staple is so long and soft that it was chosen hundreds of year ago for the personal clothing of the Scheik of the time, Mohammed Alì Pacha.
This is an essential step for me in order to obtain a global superior quality that you can only reach with qualitative high raw materials.
Malo will reposition itself. What is the USP of the brand? How does the brand differ from other vendors?
Of course this is all thought through with a very new design approach. We have organized an internal design department made up of 5 designers that I coordinate personally; each of them highly specialized in one of our main product categories: Knitwear, Ready-to-wear, Textile Accessories, small leather goods and shoes.
They are backed-up by highly competent technical staff, ranging from our own workmanships in the factories in Florence and Piacenza, to the best that the “Italy Werk” offers to the world and to fashion.
Therefore Malo aims at repositioning itself in the highest segment of the international market, both with the Wholesale market development and with a Retail development in the most prestigious cities of the world. Of course Germany has always been in my thoughts and I am sure it will respond well. I remind you that on your beautiful Sylt Island we have a very faithful and important franchising store for over 25 years!
For this reason we have just opened 2 stores in “prime locations” in France, 3 in Russia and we will expand the retail division accordingly. With the new owners we decided not only to concentrate on the important points that I just mentioned, but also on the identification of the product. For this reason we are adding for example a Z/Z detail that has a strong heritage connected to our history; this detail is always present, sometimes hidden within each item.
International expansion is on the agenda. Last year, three stores have already been opened. What are the plans regarding the brand's own retail? Who is responsible for the store design?
A new Store Concept has been created; it is very modern and you can already see it personally when travelling to Saint-Tropez, Courchevel or Moscow (Gum gallery on the Red Square). All this was possible thanks to an international architects study. Furthermore we aim at opening gradually flagship stores in the major cities (Paris, London, New York) and in touristic locations, with the intention to develop also a franchisee network as we’ve already done in South Korea (8 Stores) and Japan (15 stores).
Also in wholesale changes were announced. Will you cut off old habits? From which retailers do you want to separate yourself? In which stores should the brand be sold in the future?
In order to be able to do all this, we need to select carefully our wholesalers who are able to represent the brand correctly. Many top stores already showed appreciation for this new course of the Company both for the stylistic/design aspects and for the new quality level. So we have focused on a thin but available market share that is completely free and to which we have to be swift to offer the right product in order to conquer again in a short time our position of leader in the Cashmere market.