MILAN – United Colors of Benetton has appointed Andrea Incontri as its new creative director, in charge of women’s, men’s and children’s collections.
The designer’s first collection will bow for spring 2023 and will be presented in September during Milan Fashion Week.
Massimo Renon, managing director of the Benetton group, said he was “particularly proud” of the arrival of Incontri because of his “dynamism, his enthusiasm and his research”, which will allow the company to exceed the benchmarks achieved over the years.
Benetton’s industrial and creative prowess “has contributed to the rise of fashion sensitivity and awareness of many social issues over the last 50 years of Italian history,” Renon continued.
The leader, who joined Benetton from Marcolin in April 2020, said the arrival of Incontri “will bring new energy to a story of success going through a generational change” leading to an “urgent redefinition of the social role fashion and ready-to-wear.
As an Italian, Incontri also expressed his pride in joining a company and a brand that “has built its history beyond the product. Like Tod’s, it’s an ethically correct family project. The designer was the male creative director of Tod’s for five years until 2019. Benetton, he continued, “delivers an accessible and democratic project while respecting impeccable quality”.
Furthermore, Incontri reflects, it represents “values and a culture that reflect modern humanism”, as it has pioneered inclusion and diversity, as well as sustainability through its timeless and enduring designs, as well as a wardrobe of daily essentials. . “Simplifying is harder but more fulfilling,” he said.
Leveraging his architectural background and methodical approach, he said he was interested in approaching the job also from a retail perspective, given the importance of this distribution channel for Benetton. “The brand has always been committed to providing an experience for its customers in its stores.”
Incontri will be in charge of a new communication campaign which will be released at the end of August to present the brand’s autumn collection.
“I am aware of and respect the excellent work done in communications over the years, but I aim not to repeat the same thing. We are building a new chapter of a natural evolution”, explains the designer. Oliviero Toscani worked for years with Benetton on its groundbreaking and controversial campaigns.
The spring show will take place at the sprawling Milan store in Corso Buenos Aires – again highlighting the importance of the group’s retail channel – which will be renovated. A new capsule of accessories, sweaters and sneakers will be part of the collection and will be immediately available in stores.
Benetton’s historic core business of knitwear, “beautiful, durable and democratic yarns”, will continue to be relevant also for Incontri, which highlighted the brand’s “bold and precise aesthetic” both for the product and stores.
Asked about his goals, Incontri responded with a metaphor related to architecture, also considering the way Benetton’s head office was designed by Tobia and Afra Scarpa and the building complex of Fabrica, the research center in communication of the Benetton group, was restored by the Japanese architect Tadao Ando.
“Benetton is like a beautiful palace with closed doors that has not yet shown everything inside. Now I would like to open its windows and doors, to show how much beauty and culture there is inside. ‘interior,” said Incontri, who will also work on Fabrica.
He said his meeting with Luciano Benetton, with whom he also discussed architecture and art, was a highlight. “He represents the company and the company reflects his vision. Meeting him gave me strength and motivation.
An architecture graduate of the Politecnico di Milano, Incontri, which launched its eponymous brand in 2009, won the men’s edition of “Who Is on Next?” talent search in 2010 in the accessories category. The designer quickly extended his brand to men’s ready-to-wear, delivering collections with great attention to detail and the use of high-end materials.
In 2012, he added a women’s collection, which debuted as part of the Italian Fashion Chamber’s official fashion week program in February 2013. He said he continues to grow his brand eponymous, notably with bespoke creations for artists and performers, although he stressed that his priority now is Benetton.
During the pandemic, Incontri worked on several projects, including a book with Skira and the development of a range of embroidered bags, while creating a capsule of cushions and chairs with Seletti, among others. He also launched with a friend, actress and television presenter Fiammetta Cicogna, a new line of sustainable jewelry, called Inbilico, which uses recycled gold and lab-grown diamonds.
He is also continuing his artistic project, dubbed “Le Tipe Umane”, which he started a few years ago, by posting sketches of different kinds of women and figurines on his personal Instagram account.
In October 2018, Benetton appointed fashion designer Jean-Charles de Castelbajac as its new artistic director, in charge of the brand’s men’s and women’s collections.
It was a new role and one of the first big steps for the label, following Luciano Benetton’s return as band president in January of that year.
Luciano Benetton is one of the founders of the company along with his siblings Giuliana, Gilberto and the late Carlo.
As noted, Renon told WWD in May at the reopening of the Paris flagship on Place de l’Opera that it was “a new era for Benetton”, adding that the company was seeing growth at double digits compared to 2021 and with the aim of “getting as close as possible [they] can reach 1 billion euros in net sales” while increasing profitability above 2019 figures.
A success factor is the increase in sales and sales per square meter, which he attributes to the tightening of retail processes. “As we move more towards direct-to-consumer, we know we need to be efficient and timely in what we deliver to our stores,” he said.
Renon revealed that while business has returned to pre-pandemic levels, the proportion of wholesale and direct retail has changed.
“[The latter] has reached 60% of our turnover, thanks to e-commerce and stores like this, which is very good. This is part of our strategy to be less and less intermediated by third parties, to make Benetton a brand rather than a clothing company,” including on the production side, he continued.
The physical retailers and the group’s own network total some 4,000 stores.
His native Italy remains Benetton’s biggest market, accounting for around 15% of its sales, followed by India at 11% and after that South Korea, France and the Iberian Peninsula. .
The brand plans to re-enter the US market, where it is currently only present through e-commerce, with the opening of flagships and the support of third-party distribution partners.