Conte of Florence Distribution SpA is an Italian fashion enterprise that prides itself on a history of its own: In the center of Florence near Ponte Vecchio, one of the city’s best dressmakers decided to enlarge his business in 1952 – the birth date of the brand Conte of Florence that soon was crowned with its classic logo: A ‘C’ and a lily flower, the emblem of Tuscany’s regional capital.
Some years later, the logo was well-known all over Italy. At some point, Conte of Florence was the sponsor of the Italian skiing team – and the popularity of the ‘C’ with the lily on shirts and other pieces grew even further. The company’s outfits were just the kind of clothes for the more informal gettogether which follow sports and exercise: a get-together where people wanted to be dressed well.
A major decision that the new president of the company made is reviving the old label that the company had created back in 1952. “I often look at our label and think: We won the branding lottery! It so much stands for what we sell: A classic, sporty and yet modern look that fits perfectly into the 21st century and even the urban environment, but that also recalls heritage,” underlines Carlo De Carolis. “This is exactly what our customers want to see on our clothes,” he adds. “And it has a strong appeal to it when it comes to identifying with what one wears.”
Apart from reintroducing the original logo, the president and CEO also decided to revive the brand by going back to the traditional colour palette. “It surely makes a lot of sense that the revival of the logo goes hand in hand with the colours that Conte of Florence was originally associated with.”
Currently Conte of Florence has 50 shops in Italy. A showroom in the center of Florence is open for business as of February 2018. To date, Conte of Florence has about 20 shops abroad, mostly in eastern Europe. Two-thirds of the Italian shops are owned by the company, the rest, including all those outside Italy, are franchising enterprises.
With the brand revival of Conte of Florence, Carlo De Carolis is also envisioning a move towards internationalizing his label. “95% of our sales are in Italy. But I believe there is much more potential out there in the world. Beside key European markets like Germany and France I am currently looking at the US in particular. We will distribute Conte of Florence fashion there this spring. This is a very exciting step for us!” And Carlo De Carolis does not like half-hearted decisions.
For his business development plan he got the former VP USA of Geox on board. Yet another man with a proven track record in taking a company just that step further that will make it succeed on the globalized fashion market.
If one takes a closer look at the fashion and apparel products sold by Conte of Florence, the urban fashion sportswear philosophy stands out in both the women’s and men’s segments. Knitwear and polo-shirts are amongst the best-selling items, but there are jackets, pants and accessories as well.
A market that comes natural to Conte of Florence is the market of golf enthusiasts. “Golf players are somehow our natural customers. They are exactly the kind of sophisticated and yet sports-loving clientele we would like to reach now in the US market,” explains Carlo De Carolis. Conte of Florence has also developed unique products for the more urban crowd though. Their ‘cappello gioiello, a booble hat for women featuring shiny crystals, is among the highlight products of the company’s accessories. Of course such products do not come by chance.
“We have a dedicated art director who develops brand new ideas with his team. And he works hand-in-hand with our production, most of which is still in Europe,” says the CEO. “We have achieved the best results with this tandem approach and are well-equipped for the future due to it.”
Conte of Florence is also looking at a bright future simply because the brand speaks for itself. “Storytelling is a big buzzword these days. But you do not make a poor product better simply by adding a good story to it,” muses Carlo De Carolis. “Our current brand revival is authentic because we truly can go back to our roots, a tailor’s shop in the center of Florence, and we do still sell quality – at an affordable price in the 21st century. That is hard to beat by the competition.”
Carlo De Carolis is on a mission. And he excels at it: “In times of change and new developments, the cultivation of relationships is key, within the company and with new and old business partners. It’s fantastic to be part of this.”