Florence — The Loretta Caponi store here is not to be missed — both because there is nothing like it, the most exclusive hand-embroidered linens depicting everything from hot air balloons to toy trains or faithful reproductions of Tuscan landscapes, and because it Is a treasured stop – a rest in town for generations.
A few steps from the center of Via Tornabuoni, in the beautiful frescoed Palazzo Aldobrandini Di Lippo of the 13th century, restored by the Caponi family, the store includes a workshop and presents all the collections of the brand, Includes home, men’s and women’s ready-to-wear – apparel, loungewear and underwear, and from 2019 there is also a delightful children’s corner.
Sales have doubled over the past two years, and the brand has been expanding in the United States, its main market. It has also accelerated wholesale distribution of its home collection with the opening of a shop-in-shop at Harrods in January, the brand’s expansion on Net-a-porter and the launch of Abask.com, a design and interiors-focused platform Matchesfashion Ornament by co-founder Tom Chapman.
Last week, Loretta Caponi launched a new website and e-commerce platform.
“Since 2019, our sales have increased by 25% year-on-year,” said Guido Conti Caponi, grandson of the late Loretta Caponi. He has been at the helm of the company and internationalizing the brand, while his mother, Lucia, is in charge of the design. “Her embroidery is unmatched,” he says proudly.
While retail accounted for 60% of sales in 2019, Conti Caponi has been shifting the balance, growing wholesale to 60% of sales through stores in Florence and the luxury Tuscany beach resort of Forte dei Marmi. Online channels accounted for 10% of revenue.
Over the years, the brand has served royals from Belgium to the UK, as well as the Kennedys, Rockefellers, Rothschilds, Gettys and celebrities including Sting, Madonna and Jane Fonda. At a time when the lingerie category was defined by synthetics and nylon, Loretta Caponi distinguished herself with her use of cotton, linen and silk, opening her first store in 1967.
In the fresco shop decorated with antique furniture, customers can browse a large collection of precious fabrics and even design their own creations. The company has more than 22,000 archival embroidery designs ranging from penguins to sea urchins or chestnuts, to name a few, that can be placed on tablecloths, towels, sheets, pillows and blankets. Embroidery can also be done based on photos or scenery. Tablecloths are usually made to measure and retail between 5,000 and 6,000 Euros.
Retail sales totaled 5 million euros.
One of the brand’s key products is the long “Fiocchini [small bows]” Pajamas, inspired by an original creation from the early 1900s—and still a bestseller. Loretta Caponi was a pioneer in designing lingerie garments that could be worn outside the house and in bed. Case in point: the The brand’s “Loretta” silhouette, with embroidered blouse and ruffles at the neckline, introduces innovative color combinations into lingerie, previously dominated by pastel tones or tone-on-tones.
Loretta and Lucia Caponi, who have worked together for over 30 years, have an excellent use of color – as shown by a tablecloth that mixes 100 different colored threads. “My mother inherited the artistic temperament of her father, who was an artist and was surrounded by painters, and the entrepreneurial spirit of my grandmother,” Conti Caponi said.
The brand also launched a spring 2023 bridal collection.
In the wake of COVID-19 restrictions, Conti Caponi is eager to start traveling again and hosting luggage shows around the world, which is key to connecting with the brand’s customers – although word of mouth has always played a big role in the growth of its business. For example, a trip to Palm Beach, Florida followed in March. Conti Caponi is very careful about the privacy of the brand’s clients, but points out that it is not only houses that are to be decorated, but also yachts and castles.
The US accounted for more than 50% of sales, followed by the Middle East and Europe. “Americans express their love for Florence, tradition, craftsmanship, and they appreciate history while respecting tradition and innovation,” Conti Caponi said.
Everything is made in Tuscany, and he stresses that the aim is to continue to elevate the brand, which is selectively distributed and available in 70 stores around the world.
The company is still privately owned and Conti Caponi sees no need at the moment to find investors to reinvest the profits in the growth of the brand, stressing that the products will not be out of season or discounted.
The brand presents three ready-to-wear collections a year, while the lingerie and home collections appear twice a year.
Conti Caponi believes in preserving the brand’s craftsmanship and quality without compromise. “We don’t intend to multiply our customer base, but our aim is to penetrate further into this niche. We want to continue to surprise. People are looking for uniqueness.”