Bikkembergs inks deal with new underwear partner
Bikkembergs is busy relaunching despite the pandemic. The sport couture label, owned by China-based Modern Avenue Group via the Levitas holding company, has been developing its business solely through licensing deals. Bikkembergs recently launched a jewellery line with Italian producer Arkano, and has now announced a new partnership for the production and distribution of its collections of underwear and swimwear, two of Bikkembergs’s most important product categories.
“Underwear is a strategic category for Bikkembergs. It accounts for nearly 12% of our total sales, but the label has always been strongly underpinned by its brand image in the category, chiefly because of its memorable men’s underwear campaigns,” said COO Dario Predonzan.
“Undoubtedly, [the category’s] potential has not been fully exploited [by Bikkembergs] in recent years. We have decided to terminate the contract with CSP International by mutual agreement, and signed a license deal with Area B, a young, energetic company highly specialised in this category, one that will be able to make a difference,” he added.
Bikkembergs, whose creative director is English designer Lee Wood, has signed an exclusive three-year license deal with Area B, which will take charge of the design, production and worldwide distribution of the label’s men’s underwear and swimwear collections from the Spring/Summer 2022.
The deal also provides for the launch, a first for Bikkembergs, of a women’s swimwear capsule collection that will be commercialised from May 2021. “This is a novelty for us. We are mostly renowned as a menswear label, but we are keen to strengthen our women’s range, which currently accounts for 40% of our footwear sales and 10% of our apparel sales,” said Predonzan.
Area B was founded in 2011 in Piove di Sacco, near Padua, Italy, after swimwear manufacturer Enterprise was bought out by the managers which had been running it for 12 years. Pierluigi Pittarello, the entrepreneur who notably founded footwear retailer Pittarello, holds a stake in Area B as financing partner. Area B designs and produces lingerie and swimwear collections for third-party labels, and is the licensee for names like Karl Lagerfeld, Iceberg, North Sails and Aeronautica Militare.
Bikkembergs’s business hinges around seven other licensing contracts: with Italian producer Sinv for ready-to-wear; with Global Brands Group for footwear; with Ratti for textile accessories; with La Compagnia delle Pelli for leather goods; with Elisabet for junior footwear; with Two Brother for the production and distribution of the childrenswear collections; and with Arkano for jewellery.
The Dirk perfume, launched with Perfume Holding in 2016, is still being commercialised, though the license has been put on hold. Bikkembergs is evaluating other licensing opportunities, among them eyewear, a segment which it is keen to re-enter after a first line was launched in 2006 with Allison and later abandoned.
The sum of these activities generated a revenue of nearly €40 million for Bikkembergs in 2020. “Considering the crisis triggered by the pandemic, we managed to limit the damage. Our sales dropped by 10% only, while our e-tail sales rose by 29% last year,” said Predonzan.
Bikkembergs is distributed worldwide via 500 multibrand retailers and 30 franchised monobrand stores, the latest of which opened in Cairo, Egypt, at the end of 2020. The label has announced three forthcoming openings in Russia (two in Moscow and one in St Petersburg) with its local partner Vogue Dialogue. Bikkembergs’s expansion plans in China, where it operates five stores, have instead been hampered by the crisis.
The label’s main market remains Russia/eastern Europe, which accounts for nearly 30% of its global revenue, followed by Italy with 29%, by the Middle East and Spain. In 2020, Bikkembergs was able to enter the American market for the first time, with footwear products.
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