Italian 1980s label Byblos turns over a new leaf
Byblos opened the Milan Women’s Fashion Week with an eagerly awaited show on Wednesday morning. For the label, one of the symbols of Italian fashion in the 1980s, it was the opportunity to unveil a new look, marking a whole new phase in its history. Last April, Byblos carried out a complete organisational overhaul, and is now led by the creative director and CEO Manuel Facchini, supported by new general manager Enrico Vanzo.
Byblos staged its come-back show inside an old garage by the Milan Darsena, a basin within the city’s former canal port. The show presented a majority of women's looks as well as a few menswear silhouettes. “We chose a venue with a special atmosphere to celebrate this new phase, which marks a radical change for Byblos,” said Vanzo, who has notably worked for Giorgio Armani and Tommy Hilfiger.
The show was also the occasion to launch an “iconic sneaker model for men and women.” Byblos’s relaunch campaign has been lensed by renowned British photographer Nick Knight. Also on the cards, the pre-Christmas reopening of the Byblos store in Via della Spiga, Milan, with a focus on high-tech features, the launch of an e-tail site between January and February and the “opening of a store in Moscow, inside a major shopping mall.”
“Our goal is to open four [monobrand] stores per season, and to operate 15 stores by the end of 2019. For the time being, Byblos is chiefly distributed via wholesalers and department stores, and has 600-700 multibrand clients. Italy accounts for 65% of total sales, followed by the rest of Europe,” said Vanzo, who has drawn up a five-year industrial plan. “In 2018, we expect to generate a revenue of about €17-18 million. We forecast sustained growth in the medium term, enabling us to reach a revenue of between €40 million and €50 million in the next five years,” he added.
Byblos has invested heavily on production and product development, setting up a new logistics and design hub in Carpi, Italy. The footwear and accessories lines are now once again developed internally, while all licences and other lines have been discontinued, to focus on the main ready-to-wear line only. Alongside Byblos, which is positioned in the contemporary, accessible luxury segment, the group operates two other labels: the Manuel Facchini experimental line, launched by the eponymous designer in 2015, and By Byblos, a young, affordable line for men and women, introduced with the Spring/Summer 2019.
“Byblos is a remarkable label. Although it's a name from the past, it has a strong heritage and a very modern design. The idea is to make it much more contemporary by working on the colours and prints which made it famous, and working on the distribution side too. It's by no means a hopeless challenge, people today are keen for this kind of fresh, colourful style,” said Vanzo.
Byblos owes its vibrant, unaffected mood to Gianni Versace, one of the label’s first designers (between 1975 and 1979, when he was still an emerging name), who infused it with his exuberant style. The label was christened Byblos after the renowned Saint-Tropez hotel, and was founded in 1973 as part of the textile company owned by the Girombelli family, also the owners of Genny. Byblos was then styled by French designer Guy Paulin, and subsequently by the British duo of Keith Varty and Alan Cleaver, and was at its most successful in the 1980s.
Byblos was for a while the property of Prada, and in 2002 it was bought by Swinger International, an Italian fashion group founded in 1971 in Verona by Dino and Lilli Facchini. Their eldest son, Mathias Facchini, became Byblos’s CEO, while the younger son Manuel, a graduate of London’s Central Saint Martins College, became the label's creative director in 2006. Last spring, the brothers decided to split the business among themselves. Mathias kept Genny (bought in 2011) and the licences for Versace Jeans and Cavalli Class, while Manuel took over Byblos via the newly formed Byblos srl company, with about thirty employees.
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