Marni is an Italian fashion label founded by Consuelo Castiglioni in 1994, who has always been the label's designer. Marni has recently risen to prominence as women have turned away from overtly sexy clothing to designs emphasizing color, print, and shape.
The fashion line was started in 1994, when Castiglioni's became known for her contributions to the design of fur. At that moment, fur was at its most unpopular and typically designed in an old-fashioned manner, but Castiglioni instead treated it as a normal fabric to make modern, wearable clothing. Her fashion line, which is named after her sister Marni, grew as her customers needed something to wear under or with their fur.
Today, the company produces a full array of ready-to-wear clothing, handbags, jewelry, and eyewear. Marni has recently changed from "a well-kept secret among like-minded aesthetes to a label followed for its own sake." Jenna Lyons, senior vice president of women's design for J.Crew, attributes Marni's rise to the "post-Tom Ford era," saying that women are lately being bold through color, print, and shape rather than through overt sex appeal and are dressing more for other women than for men.
For Fall 2007, Marni produced its first line of men's clothing and caused a minor splash by including leggings as standalone bottoms for men.
Marni sells clothing in sixteen countries worldwide; boutiques locations include New York City, Los Angeles, Beijing, Shanghai, Sydney, Moscow, and Tokyo. Online sales began in 2006. Marni "prides itself on its Italian heritage"--its entire line is made in Italy--and does not have any licensees.
Castiglioni's husband, Gianni, is Marni's CEO, and the company's annual sales are approximately $100 million. With these figures and the label's increasing cachet, fashion insiders have said that Marni--a family-owned label--is "just the type of label luxury-goods conglomerates and private-equity funds are looking to snap up." Though the company has been approached by potential investors and buyers, so far Castiglioni is uninterested in selling.
Castiglioni, who has been always been the label's chief designer, is responsible for Marni's aesthetic of "European-inflected bohemianism." Other descriptors that have been applied to Marni designs include "quirky," "feminine," "off-beat," and "funky." Early design features included idiosyncratic prints and vintage-inspired shapes and fabrics; Marni has retained these elements but has become more streamlined. Other Marni hallmarks include juxtapositions of texture; colorblocking; a palette focused on gray, beige, and blue, in which bright colors are interspersed; and unusual shapes, such as bell hemlines, gathering, asymmetry, and large volumes. In general, Marni's women's clothing resonate more with female customers than with men, who do not find the clothes sexy.
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