Brama Group, an Italian platform specialized in distributing fashion brands internationally through a network of own showrooms across EMEA, recently started a partnership with Riccardo Grassi Showroom. Milanese upmarket Riccardo Grassi Showroom will be responsible for the Europewide distribution of the US brands Cotton Citizen and Boyish Jeans starting from s/s 2019. It will also distribute the two brands to a few countries outside Europe.
The newborn partnership could be the starting point for a future merging together of the two organizations. Aim of the operation might lead each of them focusing on specific functions - Brama might concentrate on logistics, reorders and similar aspects, while Riccardo Grassi might further take care about sales - while lead both of them managing a larger portfolio of upmarket brands.Cotton Citizen, a men’s and women’s LA-based casual T-shirt and jersey brand, and Boyish Jeans, a California-based label that makes women's denim vintage silhouettes updated with a modern design, may mark the start of a significant evolution for both partners, as explained by Renzo Braglia, CEO Brama Group, who speaks about the reasons behind this partnership.
How was this collaboration started?
While we have grown significantly in recent times and have taken many functions upon our shoulders, we also needed help in managing certain aspects of our work. We have always worked in foreign markets as we operate through seven showrooms all over Europe, including our Milan showroom in Via Sirtori 22 we opened in 2017, a project that, in a way, has closed a circle.
Thanks to our complex organization we can offer more services and work directly with retailers. Our client base counts 800 retailers all over Europe, a consistent amount of insiders we are closely in touch with on a daily basis.
Though, thanks to this newly started partnership we can approach the market more deeply and accurately, while enlarging our horizons.
What you two have in common and what differentiates you?
Riccardo Grassi is a friend. We reciprocally trust and esteem each other and came to know each other better as we have been working as part of Pitti Uomo’s technical committee for ten years. We practically share the same clients and have a similar approach in serving them carefully and respectfully. Though, each of us is strong in different segments: Grassi is highly appreciated for his involvement with the luxury designer market as he deals with brands like Blancha, Drome, Erika Cavallini, Giamba, Giambattista Valli, Marco De Vincenzo and MSGM while our forte is contemporary fashion as we work with 40 companies, most of whose are Californian–like J Brand, Equipment, Current/Elliott, Frame, Mother, Opening Ceremony, Jean Atelier and Local Authority LA. He works through temporary showrooms as he serves clients during international fashion weeks, while we work steadily through our own showrooms by constantly supplying our clients with support in terms of replenishments of sizes and products on a daily basis.
How will this collaboration develop? Would you eventually merge in the future?
Our partnership has just started though we might become one single entity with different roles. We want to focus more and more on distribution–that is logistics, reorders and similar aspects–while Riccardo might take care of sales.
Also in terms of brand portfolio he would start operating in a segment he is not used to as he mostly sells high-end T-shirt and jeans brands while we are in a premium segment.
What do you see in the future of jeanswear?
Jeanswear is cool today and it will be so in the future. In the last year and a half it had slowed down, but now it is coming back. Trendy jeans have been stronger while traditional and clean denim has been facing a more critical phase. Now traditional denim starts being appreciated again as its jeans stand for certainty. I think that two main trends will be strong: on the one side there will be a return to clean and elegant–we see it through J Brand mostly focused on elegant and clean denim–and on the other side more authentic, rigid and visually strong jeans will be back, though they have to be very carefully manufactured, have to fit the consumer perfectly, and care strongly for the environment to be treated with sustainable treatments, as, for instance, Mother and Boyish Jeans.
How important is a brand today?
A brand is a certainty, but it has to be kept alive. Look, for instance at what huge luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton are doing: LV has involved Virgil Abloh to show the market it is alive and demonstrate exactly what’s going on. Similarly the H&M-Moschino partnership has joined two opposite brands focused on the same strategy, which is the only way through which they can stay alive. A brand that feels satisfied with its past glories is making a big mistake.
And what about jeans?
Jeans can stay alive by offering constantly evolving products. We at Brama are in close contact with the market–as retailers and brands can bring a brand to the market immediately. When a denim brand is alive we can immediately offer a new shade, embellishment or cut. Differently, if a brand remains sitting it will suffer.