Innovation

Asian challenge for Scervino’s glamour

di Silvia Pieraccini


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3' di lettura

Less than 20 years have passed since a beautiful house near Piazzale Michelangelo in Florence witnessed the launch of a women’s brand that is now a rarity on the international fashion panorama. Because from the outset Ermanno Scervino positioned itself at the top of the Italian sartorial pyramid; because it has made production quality and material research the beacons of its collections; because in a relatively short space of time it has become a sophisticated and glamorous international brand that, in the purchasing choices of consumers, is able to rival the powerful global brands (the French ones in particular) despite its infinitely more modest strength and family-size dimensions. So much so that it has opened stores - it has 50 boutiques worldwide - alongside the fashion giants in the most prestigious locations on the planet.

It is a case study with no equal. A position obtained thanks to the power of the product rather than the internet or the use of celebrities or PR agencies. On the cover of the April edition of Vogue Spain the alluring Penelope Cruz wears an orange silk organza dress by Scervino. «We didn’t even know, they told us that she chose it personally for the photo shoot, from an entire wardrobe» explains a smiling Toni Scervino, head, soul and Ceo of the brand he founded with designer Ermanno Daelli (the label is a combination of the name of one and the surname of the other).

On the most recent cover of Vogue Japan a black model wears a complete Scervino outfit, dominated by a yellow fake fur with leopard-skin print. «That was also a surprise – says Toni Scervino –. Incidentally, a lot of work went into that garment: it took us six months to figure out how to replace the lining of the fake fur, which we didn’t like, and in the end, thanks to a traditional furrier, we managed to use a thin sheet of silver, a completely innovative solution».

Innovation, in the sense of inventing new forms and experimenting with materials, remains the hallmark and driver of the Florentine brand which in 2018 recorded a turnover of €96 million and a gross operating margin (Ebitda) of €11.5 million, equal to 12%. And it now has its eyes trained on the huge Asian market in order to boost its growth and finally take its place among the “big guns”. Asia already accounts for 15% of Ermanno Scervino’s revenues, but the joint venture launched with Chinese partner Riqing is investing and producing results: following the four stores opened in Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Hangzhou, further retail expansion is programmed for 2020. «Next year we will open three more stores in China – reveals Toni Scervino –. The market likes our products and even in the so-called “second-tier” cities there are customers with a lot of disposable income».

As such, having helped counterbalance the downturn in the Russian market, highly strategic for many years for Scervino (and still worth over 20%) until the depreciation of the rouble and the recession, Asia is now the new frontier of the Florentine brand, which is also planning its development in the management-production area. The kidswear collection and the Ermanno collection for young women, also produced entirely in Italy, have returned to the company (the first “Ermanno” store will open in Florence), which is also working to create a more managerial structure.

Yet its nature remains unchanged: «We have remained faithful to our idea of the chic, feminine and modern woman – explains Toni Scervino –. We don’t look at trends but try to invent new things, like the open-knit cotton sweater with Swarovski crystals or the silver laminate jumpers».

It is clear that their partnership with producers of fabrics and yarns that are willing to experiment, try and retry finishes, washes and prints is fundamental. Also strategic is the in-house tailor’s workshop which produces prototypes and special garments, and which takes the number of direct employees at the Scervino site, in the countryside of Bagno a Ripoli (Florence), to 350, plus another 1000 or so in related industries. It is thanks to this savoir faire and the fashion-textiles supply chain that to the question «how do you compete with the major French labels?», Toni Scervino replies: «As our clothes don’t cost less than the French ones, they have to be more beautiful».

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