Italian Fashion Brands; Some are Still Italian, Others Controlled by Foreigners

There is an increasing trend of Italian luxury fashion brands moving under international control. Yet, there are other companies founded in Italy that are still run by Italians, and often still even by the same founding family; they are not as rare as you might think. For instance, there Prada, Giorgio Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, Stone Island, Moschino, MaxMara, Salvatore Ferragamo, Etro, Missoni, and much more that are still Made in Italy brands, owned by Italians. 

We have put together an overview of the main Italian labels, giving you an insight into who owns them, and if sold, when and for what amount the deals went for if known. 

Versace

Founded in 1978 by Gianni Versace and later overtaken by his sister, Donatella, the Italian heritage brand, Versace is not only synonymous with its unique and flawless style, but with being inclusive and embracing of diversity, along with empowering people to freely express themselves.

In September 2018, Michael Kors announced it has bought Versace for $2.1 billion as part of the U.S. label’s plans to become a luxury fashion conglomerate. Michael Kors has even renamed itself Capri Holdings to reflect its ambitious approach.  

Under the Kors umbrella, John D. Idol, Michael Kors CEO said Versace would increase its accessories offering from 35 percent to 60 percent of revenues to secure annual profitability. Capri Holdings also plans to boost Versace’s global retail footprint from around 200 stores to 300 and accelerate its e-commerce and omni-channel development to support such target. 

The Versace family will become shareholders of Capri Holdings Limited, with Donatella keeping her role as creative director of the iconic Italian fashion house. Capri Holdings currently has three major fashion houses under its portfolio; Michael Kors Collection, Jimmy Choo, and now Versace. 

Donatella and her brother Santo Versace own 20 percent and 30 percent of the Capri Holdings, respectively.

Fendi

Founded in 1925 by wife and husband Adele Casagrande with husband Edoardo Fendi, the Italian luxury fashion house is best renowned for its fur and fur accessories, and for its leather goods such as Baguette, 2jours, Peekaboo, and Pequin handbags.

Fendi has been part of the French multinational luxury goods conglomerate, LVMH Group since 2000. In July 2000, LVMH – and Prada – both acquired ownership stakes in Fendi. In December 2001, LVMH purchased Prada’s stake, boosting its share in Fendi to 51 percent. LVMH further increased its ownership stake to 84 percent in February 2003.  

LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton is parent to brand ranging from Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, Loewe, Givenchy, and Celine.

Gucci

Founded in 1921 by Guccio Gucci, it is one of the oldest Italian clothing levels going. It began as a modest leather store that has later grown big for its outstanding aesthetics. Gucci was inspired by French and British colleagues, but found his own line by embodying the style of Tuscany. The brand is among the most iconic brands, uniquely distinguished with its green and red stripes, horse-bit leather, and G monogram. 

In 1999, In 1999, Kering – an international luxury group based in Paris, purchased a controlling 42 percent stake of the Gucci Group for $3 billion. Later in 2003, the French group raised its stake in Gucci to 67.6 percent, and again in 2004 to 99.4 percent.

Valentino 

Founded in 1960 by Valentino Garavani, the brand set the stage for feminine elegant looks, celebrating the female forms with its outstanding floor-length gowns and skirts.  The brand’s iconic red gowns had soon become very well-known around the world to the point that the colour itself became known as Valentino red. 

In 2012, the Italian fashion house has been snapped up by Mayhoola for Investments S.P.C, an investment vehicle backed by the Qatari royal family, for 700 million euros ($857.5 million). 

Fila

Founded in 1911 in Italy by Johan Fila, the Florence-born label is one of the most trusted international athletic brands in the world. 

Fila brand started out selling underwear until it gained more popularity when it shifted its designs to athletic merchandise with the endorsement of famous tennis player Björn Borg

The brand and company was sold in 2003 to U.S.A.-based hedge fund, Cerberus Capital Management. In 2007, the international brand and company was sold to the independent Fila Korea, which owned the licence to sell Fila products in South Korea. This made Fila Korea the only rightful owner of the worldwide use of the apparel and footwear brand. 

Bottega Veneta

Founded in Vicenza in 1966, the luxury brand is defined by a uniquely refined attitude, inspired by Italian culture with a global outlook. It embraces a core philosophy of style, innovation, and luxury, adopted to a full offer for women, men, and home. 

In February 2001, the Gucci Group, owned by French conglomerate Kering acquired a 66.7 percent stake in Bottega Veneta and later in July 2001, purchased an additional 11.8 percent in the Italian luxury goods and fashion house, raising its interest in the company to 78.5 percent. 

Bulgari 

Italian jewelry brand Bulgari was established in 1884 by Greek immigrant Sotirios Bulgari, who opened the flagship Via Condotti store in Rome in 1905, and has expanded to more than 260 stores. 

In 2011, Bulgari was acquired by LVMH in an all-share deal for $6.01 billion, in which the Bulgari family sold their 50.4 percent controlling stake in exchange for 3 percent of LVMH. The deal will see Bulgari’s founding family become the second largest family shareholders in LVMH behind that of Chief Executive Bernard Arnault. 

When looking deeper, most of the brands that are now owned by foreign conglomerates have a good reason for taking the selling decision. For instance, Gucci and Fendi have benefited by the backend systems these big conglomerates offer, in terms of achieving huge worldwide distribution and sales.  

Meanwhile, brands like Prada and Stone Island can be described as running a more boutique-like approach, where smaller collections, with a deeper focus on technical developments, are better handled through a more in-house environment.