Pietro Negra, CEO of Cris Conf S.p.A., is a prime example of a self-made man in the Italian fashion business. “I have had an interest in fashion for a long time. My original inspiration was, believe it or not, Formula 1. We started off by creating shirts for sponsors. But in the early 1990s, I could not ignore my desire to create my very own fashion brand anymore: The birthdate of Pinko.”
About 25 years later, Cris Conf S.p.A has 180 monobrand stores worldwide and 1,000 employees on the payroll – 250 of them at the company’s Italian headquarters in Fidenza. The yearly revenues amount to roughly 215 million EUR in 2017. Thanks to an intensified international marketing effort, exports are forecasted to reach 55% of total business in the coming year – a step that will further raise the revenues.
“Originally, we stayed in Italy, and then tested how international markets respond to our brand. Take London or Paris or any big European metropolis. Our brand worked, and took off. We now want to see a growth in Russia and China. The US and Japan are also new to us – we have engaged there in the last two years and now need to fine-tune things there, for instance rethink about whether multibrand stores should rather be substituted withy monobrand stores,” Mr. Negra explains.
But what is it really that fascinates fashionistas from all over the world to subscribe to Pinko? The Italian fashion DNA is a decisive factor. “We love to dress people in a very stylish way, but we definitely do not overdo it,,” Mr. Negra notes. “Take a woman in the 21st century. She has to look business-like during the day and still hit the bars or even attend festivities in the evening. Pinko is just the right brand for that. Call it a sophisticated style if you wish; we deliver, and with a handful of pieces these women get through the day and night – and they will be remembered as women who were very well-dressed. In a world where a statement in the public realm has to be made within seconds, the women we dress will catch people’s attention in the most positive way possible.”
With three collections per year, Pinko runs a pre-collection, a maincollection, and a flash-collection. The flagship store on Via Monte Napoleone in Milan provides Pinko with just the right crowd. Located side by side with stores of Versace, Dolce & Gabbana, Valentino and other big Italian fashion names, fashionistas have long embraced Pinko’s store to shop for unique pieces to complement their wardrobe.
“Of course the heart of Italy’s fashion capital is our main hub. We also have a showroom in Milan. But Pinko has a worldwide appeal; be it at our monobrand stores or at the multibrand ones, we make sure presentation is king. We want women to look at our pieces in the display and think: I want to have this! We have an appealing, lively brand with Pinko – and are still true to the Italian idea of style. That simply sells,” the CEO points out.
The fact that Pietro Negra has also complemented his women’s fashion with Pinko Up – a fashion line for girls – underscores the popularity of the pieces Pinko creates. If one takes a peek at Pinko’s look book, one can easily grasp what Mr. Negra means: The Pinko visuals are unique. And they go hand in hand with the names Pinko chooses for its styles: Military Gold, Power Glam or Wow White.
“We have found the right marketing people to support our branding,” Mr. Negra underlines. “Any woman who is dedicated to dressing up in style can relate to these buzzwords – and will want to have the pieces in her closet.”
True to its Italian approach to style, Pinko not only sells good looks, but also quality. The company’s own design and tailoring is one factor that assures this. Relying on European and Middle East origin for most of Pinko’s supplies is certainly another.
Given the very visual character of fashion, online commerce is a major topic for Pinko. “We have used the online channel for six years now - in addition to our collections at stores of course. But we do see that we could intensify this even further. We handle it in-house now, and that was the first step in the right direction,” Mr. Negra indicates. “And fashion of course has become a major ingredient of all social media networks. We also like to use these to keep in touch with our customers.”
Another step Pinko is taking is making the brand even more international. While the company is eyeing up a consolidation in the German and European market, it wants to adapt its approach.
“So far we have only worked with multibrand stores and wholesalers in the German-speaking market. We think it is time to open up monobrand stores as well. Frankfurt and Hamburg are locations we are taking a closer look at at the moment, and also Zurich,”notes Mr. Negra.
Pinko is a success story made in Italy. So what does the future hold? “We definitely want to drive up sales internationally. And possibly creating the most desirable Pinko outfit for a woman will always remain the greatest challenge. I am happy to take on this challenge,” concludes Mr. Negra.