In recent years, Marni products have become an increasingly frequent sight on the streets. Marni was started in Italy in 1994 and, despite being a relatively young designer brand, has a growing following across the generations.
Marni was founded by the female fashion designer Consuelo Castiglioni. It was established as a side business to her husband Gianni Castiglioni’s family business, Ciwifurs. As Marni was part of Ciwifurs, a fur business, it began selling only fur and leather products. Then, when the decision came to participate in Milan Fashion Week in 1996, the brand widened its scope to include other apparel and accessories, including knitwear.
In 1999 Marni became independent from Ciwifurs. The same year, the company merged with Bus Stop, a subsidiary of Onward Kashiyama, and established Marni Japan to advance into the Japanese market. In 2001, the brand launched its first menswear line. Since then it has continued operations as a brand that offers both womenswear and menswear, but a major turning point came in 2012.
Marni, which has grown as a family business with Gianni Castiglioni managing the brand, Consuelo Castiglioni designing for it, and daughter Carolina running its online store, is now part of the OTB Group fashion brand conglomerate. OTB Group is chaired by Renzo Rosso, the founder of DIESEL. Other brands in the group include Masion Margiela and VIKTOR&ROLF. In recent years it has become rare for a brand to survive independently. It is now common for brands to belong to some kind of conglomerate, as it gives their business a sturdy foundation. This business model has made companies more aware of potential expansion into global markets, including the Japanese market.
In 2016, Consuelo Castiglioni, the founder and driving force behind Marni’s designs, stepped down from the position of creative director. Her successor was Francesco Risso, a talented young designer who was only 33 at the time and had previously worked on womenswear collections for Prada.
The positives and negatives that come with changing designers, as many designer brands have done in recent years, are also felt by Marni. Many existing customers hold the previous designs in high esteem and are fans of the founder, Consuelo Castiglioni. These customers often distance themselves from the brand after a change in designer. However, on the other hand, Francesco Risso quickly won the hearts of young people, who are said to be losing interest in designer brands, with his creative designs. In the three and a half years since his debut with the 17-18 A/W collection, Risso’s designs have been successful in attracting new customers.
Other key reasons for the rapid growth of the brand are the variety of accessories and the accessible price range. With accessories starting from ¥25,000 and handbags from ¥40,000, Marni relatively affordable for a designer brand. Products are also available in a variety of colors, making them fun to look at. The innovative patterns, silhouettes and colors also speak to the minds of fashionistas who pursue creativity in their fashion choices and want to stand out from the crowd.
Marni is a fascinating brand full of originality which combines various styles such as high fashion, sporty, casual, girly, and retro. This makes it highly compatible with Japanese fashion culture. It will be very exciting to watch how Marni develops going forward.
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