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The Missoni case: no longer a family affair

Here is what is happening in the colorful eden of the historic brand

By Jessica Marinetto

The zig zag has always been the distinctive element of the maison, so iconic and recognizable, that over time it has also taken possession of the same corporate structure,transforming the path of rebirth of the fashion house into something tortuous in which family values , the real protagonists of this story, can no longer save a company.

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I do not think it is easy to analyze this case, quite the contrary but in this last year I have heard a lot about it, I have looked for answers by going to touch the garments in the shops (when you could of course!), I have compared myself with people like me he was interested in finding out where the problem lay. I gave myself peace when a few days ago I read the news that Angela Missoni was leaving the creative direction.

But let's start from the beginning because a general overview “in pills” is needed to get the whole frame clear.

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The family

Ottavio and Rosita Missoni, the dream of love par excellence before being the founders of Italian high knitwear. A perfect balance that is built with commitment, constancy to the point of realizing that their union is born at the hands of an element: creativity. Rosita's experience in the family textile company and Ottavio's innate refinement give life to a world made of colors, tones and shades.

They soon realized they were pioneers in a field to be discovered and so they had to study, analyze and develop new methods of stitching, methods and dyes.

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A free game

The 70s arrive and the Missoni style explodes in full line with the euphoria of those years.

All the most refined men and women wore zigzag garments, “slub” fabrics, a great experimentation of color shapes dyed several times by the family.

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The Missoni's statement 

Here, in these waves of success that the distinctive features of Missoni are beginning to take shape, linked to the concept of Italianness and what is more Italian than the word family.

The identity of the brand, for this very reason, goes further: wearing a Missoni garment is a statement of happiness.

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The generational cycle

Thus ends the first cycle: Ottavio and Rosita leave the company reins to their children Luca, Angela and Vittorio, giving way to the second life of the Missoni business. The third cycle begins after the Covid-19 pandemic, with a new creative direction starring Alberto Caliri, a guarantee because he has worked alongside Angela for fifteen years.

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At this point we just have to get to the heart in order to fully understand what it means to be a family business for seventy years. First of all, the criticalities of this Italian company are different and cover various areas that I will try to list and explain:

The Missoni identity

PROS - its distinctive features are essential to distinguish itself from competitors, their uniqueness is an exclusive trait that is rarely seen even today in the stoic fashion houses.

CONS - their own trump card risks sucking the brand in several occasions, which remains trapped in historical lines that are not contemporary and outside the digital context in which we live.

Sweet 70’

PROS - in my opinion, these last few years could be an important moment of reaffirmation for Missoni, given the return of trends close to the brand's creativity. Of course you never have to adapt the product to trends but Missoni belongs, until today we will see with the new artistic direction, to the seventies and their freedom.

CONS - the task of the new creative director, to whom I entrust a lot of responsibility,must be able to balance the innovation that this brand needs with the craftsmanship and Italian spirit that has always distinguished it. A difficult task of relaunch and rebirth, either it goes or breaks it!

The family asset

It is important to underline that this brand is part of the Italian Strategic Fund (FIS), I do not want to enter into the merits of complicated technicalities, in practice this fund holds 41.2% of Missoni and have the aim of promoting the excellence of Made In Italy following them on a path of international growth in its key markets. More easily, Missoni must bring solid results to its investors.

PROS - the Missoni family and their CEO recognized that a big problem for the company was its still too traditional organizational form, no longer suitable for this time. This is why they are moving to a managerial system that sees the first change of creative direction.

CONS - I have no cons, unfortunately. I believe that the story of the birth of this company is one of the most beautiful in Italy, but times change, difficulties arise even for the giants of luxury. Recognizing critical issues on this very value is a sign of great intelligence on the part of the brand.

The promotion problem

PROS - I’m sure they are making changes, it seems more focused and tells the storytelling of the brand quite well.

CONS - there is room for improvement, it is not always consistent and they should focus on specific testimonials and influencers, in line with the recognition of their products.

Even the M Missoni line has a good starting point, they should play more instead of stiffening.

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In conclusion, I would like to say that the internal weaknesses have been intercepted, there will still be a lot of work to be able to revive this brand from its ashes. My initial fear was from the point of view of the product, in fact it was necessary, in the current times, to give the creative task to an eye outside the family.

I am sure that Missoni's know-how will not be upset because the values and distinctive features are part of the DNA of every collaborator. Another point in favor of this point of view is precisely the fact of not having distorted before, with several creative directors, the vision of the brand but of having left room for the aesthetic codes that only its founding family could bring back to its public up to when it was possible.

Good rebirth Missoni, return to make us dream of freedom!

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