Lardini, a brand based in Filottrano, near Ancona in Italy, is attaining increasing economic success from its menswear collections, exporting 55% of its production. On 19 February 2013, at its showroom on Via della Spiga in Milan, it took another momentous step forward, launching its first collection of womenswear. The collection comprises a relatively small number of outergarments, about 55, all reflecting the brand's extensive archive of colours and fabrics dating to the 1950s and 60s. Lines are fundamentally minimalist, but textiles are richly textured, enhanced by the taut tailoring (in part derived from men's designs such as the Ulster overcoat) and impeccable detailing. Textiles are mainly wool, cashmere blends, and more technical fabrics such as nylon.
The period flavour is combined by some very contemporary features, such as the 'modular overcoat' with a removable lining, so that it can be used in different types of weather. The RVR Lardini project, reversible garments that were launched in menswear ranges at Pitti Immagine Uomo in 2011, has been extended to women's garments. They are much more than simply garments with different colours and patterns on each side: the two sides have different technical characteristics, so that a jacket becomes a waterproof garment, for example. It is presented folded in a smart pochette, ready to be packed into a suitcase, minimizing creasing and maximizing convenience for travellers. (Below, a reversible jacket in the RVR Lardini series).
Andrea Lardini said, during the presentation, "Our company had already been creating women's garments, from 1978 until about 1988, when we decided to specialize in our own menswear collections. Today we would like to return to womenswear. This collection is about the individual products; the mode in which we build our garments is our point of strength. We have always placed our product in first place, and this means that everything is manufactured in Italy. 'Made in Italy' is a positive brand in itself, and we wanted to retain this characteristic. Product quality is and always has been our prime consideration." (Below, Andrea and Luigi Lardini).
Luigi Lardini said, "Thirty-five years after our earliest experience working on women's garments, we have succeeded in returning to our origins. We have endeavoured to create products that are fairly simple, accessible in terms of cost, and a style that could be worn by anyone. We worked on Lardini archive textiles from the late 1950s and early 1960s, reviewing and lightening them a little, and also searching for some interesting details from that period, such as the buttons. Following the success of the reversible garments for men, we have introduced them for women, with a conventional fabric on one side and rainproof nylon, for example, on the other. For the moment, we have worked just on outerwear. In the future, perhaps we will extend the range to a more complete collection. We noticed that there was, to a degree, a lack of outerwear on the market, in particular as regards the more accessible price range, from about €600 up. We have tried to create a response to this gap, and our objective is to achieve a good positioning for the brand and the products."
Andrea Lardini, CEO of the company, answered some marketing questions. "The collection is intended for Italy but also for the international markets. We are particularly strong in Japan, as regards menswear. We have a dozen own-brand stores, in Italy, Russia, China and Korea, corner shops in department stores in Japan, Korea and the USA, and about 450 multibrand stores. Some markets, such as Russia, Japan and China, are a little easier to work with, because the strength of the brand emerges clearly, while the United States is more difficult, you have to have massive strength to move on that market. We tend to be fairly prudent in our marketing, and perhaps that is due to our character as a company from the Marche region. Everyone in that part of Italy is prudent. If you make a mistake on the American market, you're out."
The company's approach has certainly paid dividends. Andrea, Luigi, Lorena and Annarita Lardini are proud of their constant growth. "Our success," said Andrea, "is due to all the people who work so enthusiastically with us. For this reason, even at the moments of greatest economic crisis, we have never laid off any of our employees."
The Lardini story