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Management Giants

Giorgio Armani

Giorgio Armani is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Armani Group and sole share holder of Giorgio Armani S.p.A., one of the world’s leading fashion and lifestyle design houses, with 5,000 direct employees, 13 factories, and a direct network of 500 exclusive retail stores in 46 countries worldwide. Under Mr. Armani’s direction, Giorgio Armani S.p.A. today stands as one of the few remaining independent, privately-owned companies in its sector, with a proven business strategy that has capitalized on the worldwide power and potential of the Armani brand name.

Giorgio Armani was born on July 11, 1934 and, along with his brother and sister, grew up in the industrial town of Piacenza in northern Italy.

The Armanis moved to Milan in 1949. Armani went to medical school for two years but dropped out in 1957 to take a job as a merchandiser for the La Rinascente department store, a job he held for about seven years. He then worked as a fashion designer for Hitman, Nino Cerruti’s men’s clothing company, before establishing himself as a freelance designer in 1970.

After several years of working as a freelance designer, Giorgio Armani was ready to devote his energy to his own label and followed his friend Sergio Galeotti’s suggestion that they open a company together. On July 24, 1975, the two business partners founded Giorgio Armani S.p.A. and launched a men’s and women’s ready-to-wear line.
His androgynous approach rarely disappointed fashion critics, who dutifully appeared each season at shows staged at his 17th-century palazzo on Via Borgonuovo in central Milan. Armani’s reputation grew as a result of the popular film American Gigolo (1980), in which actor Richard Gere was featured as the dashing owner of a closetful of tailored Armani clothing. The public developed an increasingly insatiable demand for his minimalist style, and many Hollywood leading ladies became torchbearers for the Armani look at the Academy Awards ceremony.

Mr. Armani’s philosophy of fashion and style, together with his entrepreneurial ability, has been central to the success of Giorgio Armani S.p.A.

He oversees both the company’s strategic direction and all aspects of design and creativity. Perhaps best known for revolutionizing fashion with his unstructured jacket in the Eighties, after thirty years of running his own label, he now presides over a stable of collections, including his signature Giorgio Armani line, Giorgio Armani Privé, Armani Collezioni, Emporio Armani, AJ | Armani Jeans, A/X Armani Exchange, Armani Teen, Armani Junior, Armani Baby, and Armani Casa home interiors, offering a choice of lifestyles to the marketplace.

Today, the company’s product range includes women’s and men’s clothing, shoes and bags, watches, eyewear, jewellery, fragrances and cosmetics, and home furnishings.

In 2000, New York’s Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum celebrated the social and cultural influence of Mr. Armani’s career, placing special emphasis on his pioneering design work for the cinema, by staging an exhibition that has since been seen at some of the world’s most prestigious museums, including the Guggenheim Bilbao, London’s Royal Academy of Arts, Berlin’s Neue Nationalgalerie, Rome’s Terme di Diocleziano, Tokyo’s Mori Arts Museum and Shanghai’s Shanghai Art Museum.

In 2005, Giorgio Armani presented his first collection of haute couture, Giorgio Armani Privé, in response to requests from clients who were seeking exclusive clothes of the very highest standard, fulfilling all the criteria of fine bespoke tailoring.

In 2006, Giorgio Armani went to the World Economic Forum in Davos to personally announce his support for (PRODUCT) RED, the pioneering global initiative founded by Bono and Bobby Shriver to fight AIDS in Africa.

In 2007, on the occasion of the 79th Annual Academy Awards, Giorgio Armani presented an exclusive showing of his new Haute Couture Giorgio Armani Privé Spring/Summer 2007 collection to a specially invited audience in the grounds of Ron Burkle’s Green Acres Estate in Beverly Hills. The following day he attended the Oscars.

At the end of 2007, Mr. Armani travelled to Tokyo for the opening of the Armani/Ginza Tower, his fourth concept store after Milan’s Armani/Manzoni 31, Munich’s Armani/Theatiner 12, and Hong Kong’s Armani/Chater House. The Armani/Ginza Tower features magnificent spaces in which the complete Armani fashion and lifestyle philosophy can be discovered under a single roof. Armani/ 5th Avenue was the next scheduled concept store. It was opened in New York during 2009.
The Giorgio Armani Brand Architecture

Giorgio Armani with its iconic popularity amongst the elite of the society and the fashion literate segment of the market has followed similar steps by extending the brand. Today the Armani brand architecture encompasses one corporate brand and five sub-brands, each catering to different sets of target customers and at different price levels.

The signature Giorgio Armani line: This is the main collection of apparel that consists of the signature Armani suits, Oscar gowns and so on, which are of the ultra-premium price points and essentially targeting consumers in the 35-50 year old age group.

Armani Collezioni: This is Armani’s venture into a slightly lower market segment. This basically caters to the segment of people who aspire to wear Armani apparel but cannot afford the ultimate signature line, or to those who crave to add extra products to their existing portfolios. The Armani Collezioni brand, with a price point of almost 20% lower than the main line, provides an excellent line of affordable fashion.

Emporio Armani: Targeted especially at the young professional segment in the 25-35 year old age group, the Emporio Armani brand provides contemporary designs that are relevant to the target customers.

Armani Jeans: This is the lowest range of Armani apparel. This is to the value segment what the signature line is to the premium segment. Catering necessarily to the young adults in the 18 to 30 year old age group, the Armani Jeans collection provides a trendy yet fashionable and luxurious line of apparel.

A/X Armani Exchange: This is the licensed brand of chain of retail outlets of Armani fashion house. This serves as the ultimate testimony to the power of the brand. By providing the entire range of its apparels and accessories, Armani Exchange provides customers with the complete feel of the luxurious fashion of Giorgio Armani.

The Brand Philosophy

The Giorgio Armani fashion house, like many other fashion houses, has been built primarily on the unique personality and identity of Giorgio Armani himself. The brand takes on the identity of the founder through the designs created.

Though this aspect of the fashion industry provides fashion houses with a strong sense of differentiation that can be conveyed in a tangible and visual form, it also poses a serious threat. When an entire brand and fashion house are built on the basis of the founders’ personality and identity, it becomes a major challenge to keep the brand going after the demise of the founder, something many of the fashion houses have realized in the recent past.

Sustaining consistent brand personality: One of the main aspects of a fashion brand is its personality and its identity in the marketplace. Building and sustaining a personality that is relevant and one that resonates with the customer base is one of the most difficult aspects of building a strong brand.

Armani, with its presence in diverse markets, a very wide brand portfolio, and interacting with diverse set of customers, faces this huge challenge of building a relevant and resonant personality.

With the ever growing competition in the fashion industry and ever growing brand portfolio, building and nurturing this personality will prove to be a very big challenge for Armani in the future.