Jun 20, 2010
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Jil Sander says full recovery could be years out

Jun 20, 2010

Jil Sander
Jil Sander - SS 2010

FLORENCE Italy (Reuters) - Fashion house Jil Sander Group does not see a full recovery in Europe and the United States before 2014, as markets instability drags on luxury spending, its head told Reuters.

The Tokyo-based label, founded by German designer Jil Sander in the 1970s and now owned by Japanese apparel group Onward Holdings Co Ltd (8016.T), said global sales picked up again in the first months of 2010, with the United States above the group's forecast, but were still below expectations in Europe.

"We closed 2009 with a sell out of 100 million euros," Chief Executive Alessandro Cremonesi told Reuters on the sidelines of men's fashion trade fair Pitti Uomo this week.

"In the U.S. sales grew 10 percent compared with the previous year and in the first months of 2010 retail (sales) showed signs of recovery," Cremonesi said.

"However, in markets like North America and Europe it will take from four to five years to go back to pre-crisis levels," he said.

Jil Sander's creative director Raf Simons showed a fluorescent spring-summer collection at Pitti, with simple round-neck sweaters glowing with iridescent colors.

Cremonesi said the aim for the group was to expand its sports and casual luxe brand Navy in Asia, its main market, targeting younger generations of fashion-hungry consumers.

"We are developing our strategy of penetration in young Asian markets," Cremonesi said.

The CEO said Jil Sander remained focused on clothing and accessories, after revamping its bags and shoes business in 2007.

"Jil Sander has historic licenses which work well," Cremonesi said. "Now it is important to remain concentrated on what we do best," he said.

The fashion label, known for its lightweight jerseys and easy knitwear, was initially sold to Prada group and then to the British private equity fund Change Capital partners in 2006 before being taken over by Onward Holdings Co. in 2008.

The German designer, also known as the queen of understatement, exited the fashion house and was off the scene for a while before returning with her Japanese brand Uniqlo.

(Reporting by Silvia Ognibene, writing by Antonella Ciancio, Editing by Patrick Graham)

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