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Italian fashion house has big plans for Seoul market

July 17,2007
Above: Ottavio Missoni (left), Vittorio Missoni and Massimo Gasparini. By Ines Cho
Accompanied by his 22-year-old son Ottavio and new chief executive Massimo Gasparini, Vittorio Missoni delivered a clear message to his partners in Asian fashion capitals in Shenzhen, Beijing, Seoul and Tokyo during a week-long trip. His family business is aggressively expanding by launching new accessories lines and is ready to thrive for many more generations.
Gasparini, 48, oversaw Gucci’s watch division before replacing Missoni’s former chief executive Umberto Monte in January.
The JoongAng Daily spoke with Missoni and Gasparini at the brand’s flagship store in southern Seoul.

Q. In an interview last October, you emphasized that Missoni wanted to remain a family business. What made you change?
Missoni: As markets grow, we need the experience of other professionals to continue our business for the next 50 years. When I met [Gasparini] with my sister, we immediately had a feeling that we had met the right person.

Have you made changes at the company since you joined?
Gasparini: Family members work together based upon their experience and intuition but there is a point where you need discipline and structure to support the group. Missoni is a unique brand, and I’ve spent time learning to understand the brand first. Having dealt with three siblings and their mother over the past six months, I can say we’ve survived each other!

Do you envision a partnership similar to that of Tom Ford and Domenico DeSole?
Missoni: For each collection, service needs to be well coordinated. We’re a brand but also a manufacturer with 270 workers so quality and timely delivery is very important. Accessories weren’t really our priorities. [With Gasparini], we plan more merchandising, with a full range of products.

What will be the initial step?
Gasparini: The initial investment in new lines will be a few million dollars for sure. We will start with handbags and shoes and we want to speed up the process. Angela Missioni, who has proven her talent over the years, will coordinate everything.

How careful are you with the Chinese market?
Missoni: I think [many brands who were there] had a different expectation when they first went to China, and they thought China would be like Hong Kong. Yesterday in a Shenzhen mall, we saw one men’s shop after another, which means the buying power is still in the hands of men. When ladies get the buying power, the market will explode. We’re being careful, not making any mistakes. We have three stores in Shanghai, Beijing and Shenzhen but will have more soon.

How important is Russia?
Missoni: Russia is a huge market which is doing very well. We had a store in Moscow but it burned down last year and will reopen in September. I’ve been invited to the Luxury Unlimited conference in November. My mother was a speaker in Dubai, and I was a speaker in Hong Kong. We take turns. Last year it was in Istanbul, and Turkey has been moving up. I think the conference is organized in all the right places. Seoul is going to be ready soon ― definitely before China, as its market is still confused and has no clear sense of direction. All the brands and designers are here now, and it’s the place to be ― tutto bene.


By Ines Cho Contributing Writer [inescho@joongang.co.kr]



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