Shaken and Stirred: Brioni Makes Up for Loss of James Bond Account with New Foray into Casual

Famous for exclusive and expensive formal wear since its establishment in 1945, Italian fashion house Brioni is making up for a downturn in the luxury goods market by starting to offer hand-stitched T-shirts, among other items, according to an article in The New York Times.

Brioni, at one time the designer of James Bond suits, is facing the same challenges as other high-end designers. Its solution is to increase its appeal to new, younger buyers as well as to its traditional but now more cost-conscious wealthy customers, the article notes, adding that in the past, company tailors have made suits and tuxedos for Nelson Mandela, Donald Trump and Prince Andrew, among others. “Even if you are committed to your heritage, you have to be aware of where the market is going,” states Andrea Perrone, whose grandfather co-founded the privately held fashion house.

Three years ago, the article adds, casual clothes made up 15% to 20% of the company’s sales; they now total 30% to 40% of sales and are expected eventually to provide 50%. In addition, the company is expanding into emerging markets like Russia, the Middle East, India and China as a way to reduce its dependence on sales in the slumping U.S. market.

A recent article in Knowledge at Wharton foreshadowed Brioni’s strategy: “As 2009 shapes up to be the most challenging year in more than a generation for luxury items such as high-end apparel and fragrances, marketers [are planning] to target aspirational 16-year-olds and [are] expanding rapidly into the new money hubs of Russia and the United Arab Emirates,” the article stated.

For other Knowledge at Wharton articles on the luxury goods market, see:

 Luxury Fashion Executive Domenico De Sole: 'Stay the Course with the Brand'

Firms Bet on Innovation While Preserving Tradition