Determined to make its mark in the UK, the Italian womenswear label has turned to LFW designer Mark Fast
Typically Italian in its handwriting, Pinko is feminine, sexy and synonymous with high-octane glamour. However, the brand had a turbulent UK introduction, recording losses for three consecutive years from its launch season in 2005.
The premium womenswear brand’s co-owner, Pietro Negra, puts the challenging sales down to the management in the UK “not being right”. Negra has hired sales agency Rock It, which also sells Meghan Fabulous and Liu Jo, and charged it with building the UK account base from 30 to 80 stockists.
So far, Pinko’s glossy Italian design handwriting with its glitzy fabrics and embellishment has failed to capture the imagination of UK shoppers. Pinko has found the difference between Italian and UK consumer tastes difficult to bridge and Negra admits the brand does not design product with the UK in mind. However, perhaps surprisingly, he is not changing this approach, but hopes collaborations such as a capsule collection with London Fashion Week designer Mark Fast due to launch for spring 11 will give the brand kudos with UK shoppers.
“London is an incredible window at an international level for the brand,” he says.”It’s a very difficult market and lots of Italian brands have difficulties [here]. There are lots of local competitors like Topshop that are very good. For the first two to three years we were losing money in the UK but our sales forecast for 2010 is up 30% on 2009 in response to growing stockists and increased buys from existing accounts.”
Rock It’s brand manager, Alana Hennes, echoes Negra’s confidence and says the brand’s directional autumn 10 collection will contribute to a sales uplift this year. She adds: “The business is growing and we would like to double the accounts in a year.”
Al Eresen, owner of contemporary womenswear indie Harvest on King’s Road, west London, which also stocks
M Missoni and Roberto Cavalli Class, has stocked Pinko for the past three seasons. “Our customers are happy to pay more for a Pinko piece, as they know it’s good quality,” says Eresen. “Our favourite piece this season is a charcoal draped dress with a hand-embroidered, jewelled back.”
Knitwear designer Fast has been enlisted to create a capsule collection for both spring 11 and autumn 11 and Pinko will enlist other named designers for future seasons. The Mark Fast collection will be available to select wholesale accounts. It will reinterpret ethnic prints and have a focus on body-con knitwear in mink and grey with turquoise as a highlight colour.
Pinko 020 7636 6063
price point for the collection, rising to £200
Number of UK stockists
UK turnover in 2009