INTERVIEW: Emilio Cavallini

Designer Emilio Cavalli talks to Lingerie Insight about the UK launch of his hosiery brand at this month’s Moda exhibition.

Why have you chosen to exhibit at Moda, this year?

We decided to participate in Moda because we’re looking to expand in the UK market and a number of our clients suggested the show to us.

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How are you looking to expand your presence in the UK in 2012?

We are investing in PR and we are hosting an important event in March for press and buyers.

What would you describe as your target demographic?

Our target is 25-55, so quite expansive; we target young women who follow fashion trends but also any woman who wants to be noticed.

Which retailers are you looking to target with your new collection?

Department stores and high level fashion stores.

In what ways do you consider the UK market as different from other countries in which you are currently present?

The UK market always anticipates any fashion trend and this is particularly true for hosiery trends. The whole world looks at what women are wearing in the UK, so it is very important for a company like ours, which is always on the cutting edge of fashion, to have a strong presence in the UK market

How do you feel the industry has evolved since you started the company in 1967?

Technology has allowed us to produce higher quality products at competitive prices. At the same time, the internet has allowed for ultra rapid world wide communication, which ultimately leads to business expansion in new markets.

What led you to enter the hosiery sector?

My passion for tights was born when I was a young boy who loved to go around the world. I worked as an accountant in a small company in my country, where they produced hold-ups only (at that time tights didn’t exist in Italy). During a trip to London, I saw ‘the tights’ and when I came back I proposed to my boss to produce them. After, I decided to buy the company and to start my own business. I loved the idea of turning tights into a form of art, which is my second passion.

I knew Mary Quant at the time, and she asked me to produce striped tights for her. For me, it was the start of my creations. I bought 50,000 solid tights and I printed all of them with different prints. I sold them in a few months and I had the possibility to buy my own machines and start the production. My success arrived with black-and-white pattern (stripes, stars, dots). Now, my company produces over 6 million pairs of tights.

Would you ever consider diversifying into other areas of fashion and, if so, which ones?

We are already diversifying with seamless ready-to wear.

What has been the greatest challenge since you started up the company?

The internet. The internet is a big revolution for the business because you can easily communicate with the whole of the world. The images of your products can reach everybody.
We opened an online shop some years ago so as to stay close to our customers and understand their needs as much as possible.

What do you feel has been your greatest success in business?

The biggest success is to make a small Tuscan company to be known as one of the best company worldwide for its constant innovation and research to achieve a very high quality.

What new projects do you have in mind for 2012 and have you any plans for further expansion?

For the time being, we are working on two events: one during New York Fashion Week in February and one in London in March. In 2012 there will be a big remodelling of our Florence flagship store, which will become multimedia and cutting edge.

Where would you like to see the company in five years from now?

In the best department stores worldwide.

How do you feel that Emilio Cavalli is different to any other brands currently on the market?

We believe that tights are an accessory, like a bag or a pair of shoes. They can completely change the look of the woman, by making her unique and different. We always follow and anticipate fashion trends, without copying. The fact that other competitors look into our collections means that we have succeeded in our intent.

Why did you choose Bettie Page as the inspiration for your new Autumn/Winter 12 collection?

I think that women are searching for something to be different, playing with sensuality, and who is more representative of the femme fatale?

What do you consider will be the next big trend in hosiery?

Sheer patterns.

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