May 13, 2022

Ferrari repositioning: from the simple license to the lifestyle brand

Translated by

Paul Kaplan

Published on

June 18, 2021

“The prestige of Ferrari is enormous,” said Nicola Boari, the executive overseeing the repositioning of Ferrari, probably Italy’s most famous brand.

Photo : Ferrari – Foto: Ferrari

Even more recognizable than big names in fashion like Gucci or Giorgio Armani, Ferrari is an immediately familiar name to billions of people around the world. A brand synonymous with luxury, excellence, heritage and performance – qualities not always found in the licensed products that bear its name.

Last weekend, Ferrari launched its first full-fledged fashion collection, designed by Rocco Iannone, a stylist who has worked with many big house studios, such as Armani and Dolce & Gabbana.

Ferrari staged the collection in its car factory in Maranello; the models paraded directly on the production line. Its Formula 1 drivers, Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc, sat in the front row, alongside John Elkann, the CEO of Fiat Group, Italy’s richest conglomerate – which controls Ferrari.

“Ferrari stands for Italian excellence and the best of our country’s creativity. Today’s parade, organized in our factory, and the openings of the Ferrari boutique and the Cavallino restaurant in Maranello are signs of an Italy strengthened and optimistic, ready for growth and renewal, ”explains John Elkann.

The show marked the group’s latest foray into the wide world of high-end fashion. Its Exor division acquired a stake of around 25% in the capital of Christian Louboutin last year, after having bought control of the Chinese luxury brand Shang Xia from Hermès.

In recent times, rumors have been circulating in Italy about Exor’s intentions towards the house Giorgio Armani – the 86-year-old creator told a journalist from Vogue that he was tempted by an “Italian solution” for the future of his brand.

When asked the question directly, John Elkann takes on a mysterious air, smiles and ends up answering, “Let’s take care of this project first, okay?”

This one was wearing one of the “Testarossa” print technical shirts designed by Rocco Iannone. The role of the latter at Ferrari? “Discovering the essence of Ferrari and expressing it in fashion. It’s often easier when you come from the outside. And in my opinion, Rocco has won the bet.”

Model transformation

The project marks a significant turning point for Ferrari, which has multiple licenses – from miniature $ 50 models to Lego racing car kits. Ferrari’s drivers have been crowned world champions 15 times, more than any other rival, so much so that their red cars are of almost sacred value to fans. The 1963 250 GTO model is the most expensive car in history, selling for $ 70 million.

“We need to move from a licensed brand to a full-fledged lifestyle brand,” Nicola Boari told us the day before the show at Cavallino, the brand’s famous restaurant, which also benefited from a major modernization.

Ferrari recently appointed Massimo Bottura, Italy’s most famous chef, whose restaurant in Modena, Osteria Francescana, is one of the best in the world according to the Michelin guide, to oversee its Cavallino restaurant. Four stars: three red for cooking, one green for recycling surplus food.

This weekend, the guests tasted the brilliantly avant-garde dishes of Massimo Bottura, such as the parmesan creme caramel or the succulent beef surrounded by a selection of sauces, presented on a square plate resembling a painting by Damien Hirst. .

“It’s much cheaper to just sign more licenses”, Nicola Boari

The magnificent transformation of the Cavallino is the work of modernist architect India Mahdavi. You can still see the charming back room where founder Enzo Ferrari had dinner with his closest friends and staff. This is also where customers still go for lunch today before picking up their new Ferrari. After coffee, a huge shutter rises to reveal their new racing car.

Much like a Kelly bag, part of the mystique of a Ferrari lies in its rarity. If you order an entry-level Ferrari Roma, you have to pay around 250,000 euros and wait 12 months to get it back.

The brand was listed on the New York Stock Exchange five years ago and, despite producing just 10,000 cars per year and annual revenues of around four billion euros, it now boasts a market capitalization of about $ 50 billion.

Photo : Ferrari – Foto: Ferrari

But the main element of this new diversification of products will be fashion – clothing for women, men and children. This diversification will be rolled out in six stages over the next 12 months.

The first items have been available since the end of the parade on the Ferrari website and on that of the most prestigious Italian e-commerce site, Luisa Via Roma, which takes over and extends the selection of famous Florentine boutiques.

But it remains to be seen what resonance the brand will find in international retail stores. Ferrari executives have already scheduled meetings with big names like Harrods and Neiman Marcus.

Also important were the people sitting next to John Elkann in the front row: Sir Jony Ive, the legendary Apple product designer, who now runs his own consulting business, and Marc Newson, the energetic Australian design star, which has been designing technological luggage for Ferrari for several years.

Neither of them – who for one reason or another both wore sailor tops – have revealed their next project with Ferrari, but their presence shows just how much the car brand wants to diversify its product line. .

All these activities require a significant capital investment – several tens of millions of euros. While its old business model, based on licenses, made the money flow, with significant royalties and annual sales of more than a billion euros.

“It’s much cheaper to just sign more licenses, that’s for sure. Fiat is making a financial commitment, as John Elkann has reminded me more than once,” smiles Nicola Boari with a wink. .

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