Florence – The Loretta Caponi shop here is hard to miss – both because there is nothing like it, with the most unique hand-embroidered lines depicting everything from hot air balloons to toy trains or faithful reproductions of Tuscan landscapes, and because it has been a treasured stop-off in the city for generations.
Located a few steps from central Via Tornabuoni in the beautiful 13th-century frescoed Palazzo Aldobrandini Di Lippo, which the Caponi family restored, the store includes an atelier and houses all of the brand’s collections, which include ready-to-wear , men and women. -clothes, clothes and underwear and, since 2019, a wonderful children’s corner.
Sales have doubled in the past two years and the brand has expanded into the US, its main market. It is also accelerating the wholesale distribution of its home line with the opening of a Harrods store in January, the brand’s expansion to Net-a-porter and its arrival on Abask.com, a platform dedicated to design and interiors. decor launched by Tom Chapman, co-founder of Matchesfashion.
Last week, Loretta Caponi launched a new website and e-commerce platform.
“We’ve seen a 25 percent increase year over year since 2019,” said Guido Conti Caponi, grandson of the late Loretta Caponi. He has run the company and driven the internationalization of the brand, while his mother Lucia has been in charge of the designs. Her embroideries are unmatched, he said proudly.
While retail accounted for 60 percent of sales in 2019, through stores in Florence and the luxury Tuscan beach resort of Forte dei Marmi, Conti Caponi has reversed this balance, increasing wholesale to represent 60 percent of sales . The online channel accounts for 10 percent of revenue.
Over the years, the brand has served royal families from Belgium to England, as well as the Kennedys, Rockefellers, Rothschilds, Gettys and celebrities including Sting, Madonna and Jane Fonda. Loretta Caponi distinguished herself by using cotton, linen and silk at a time when the lingerie category was defined by synthetics and nylon, opening her first store in 1967.
In the actual fresco shop, decorated with antique furniture, customers can browse the large selection of precious fabrics and even design their own pieces. The company has more than 22,000 archival embroidery designs that run the gamut from penguins to sea urchins or chestnuts, to name just a few, and can be placed on tablecloths, towels, sheets, pillows and blankets. Embroideries can also be made based on photos or landscape views. Tablecloths are usually made to measure and can retail from €5,000 to €6,000.
The retail sale is 5 million euros.
One of the main points of the brand is the long “Fiocchini”. [small bows]nightgown, inspired by an original piece from the early 1900s – which continues to be a bestseller. Loretta Caponi was a pioneer in making lingerie that could be worn outside the home – and bed. Case in point: the brand’s “Loretta” model, with a smock embroidery and zipper at the neck. And she introduced innovative color combinations in underwear, where before pastel or tone-on-tone shades ruled.
Loretta and Lucia Caponi worked together for more than 30 years and their use of color is extraordinary – as seen in a tablecloth that mixes 100 different colored threads. “My mother inherited the artistic vein of her father, who was an artist and surrounded himself with painters, and the entrepreneurial spirit of my grandmother,” said Conti Caponi.
The brand has also launched a bridal collection for spring 2023.
Following the restrictions of COVID-19, Conti Caponi is eager to start traveling again and organizing shows around the world, which are key to connecting with the brand’s customers – although word of mouth has always been important in developing its business. Next, for example, is a trip to Palm Beach, Florida, in March. Conti Caponi is conscious of the privacy of the brand’s customers, but noted the decoration of not only houses, but also yachts and castles.
The US represents more than 50 percent of sales, followed by the Middle East and Europe. “Americans show their love for Florence, heritage, craftsmanship and value history in respect of tradition and innovation,” said Conti Caponi.
Everything is made in Tuscany and he underlined that the aim is to continue to raise the brand, which is distributed selectively, available in 70 doors worldwide.
The company remains privately owned and Conti Caponi does not see the need at the moment to look for an investor, reinvesting the profits in the growth of the brand, with pieces without seasons and without decline, he underlined.
The brand has three ready-to-wear outlets a year, while the interior and home collections are presented twice a year.
Conti Caponi believes in maintaining the brand’s craftsmanship and quality without compromise. “We are not looking to exponentially expand our customer base, but our goal is to penetrate further into this country. We want to continue to surprise. People are looking for uniqueness.”