Small brands can bite, ex-Valentino chief says

Fri Jun 25, 2010 8:50am EDT
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By Antonella Ciancio

MILAN (Reuters) - Small brands can carve out a safe niche for themselves in an overcrowded fashion market, former Valentino chairman Matteo Marzotto said, adding that ideas count more than money in the crisis-hit luxury industry.

Analysts say strong brands are better positioned for recovery in an increasingly polarized luxury market, with weak brands suffering from cash problems and stretched competition.

Marzotto, a member of Italy's leading textile family, bought small French house Vionnet in 2008, at the height of the financial crisis, after leading Valentino for two years.

"We are living an historical change. There are many more brands, the market is saturated, much more competitive, you need ideas," the 43-year-old businessman told Reuters.

A keen investor, Marzotto denied a report in the New York Post saying Ungaro's owner Asim Abdullah had contacted him to offer a majority stake in the fashion label.

Contacted by Reuters, Ungaro did not comment on the report.

"I was introduced to Abdullah once, in Paris, years ago but have never talked to him since," soft-spoken Marzotto said, in his office in Milan.

"I am not interested in Ungaro, Vionnet is my job," he said.   Continued...