French ski maker Rossignol will be getting the fashion treatment, as it has hired a former Balmain executive to direct its push into fashion clothing with plans to open six boutiques in the Alps and take part in Milan Fashion Week. Rossignol will be rivaling luxury down jacket maker Moncler, one of Italy's biggest success stories which built its business on a growing appetite for chic outdoor wear. But while jackets will be among Rossignol's flagship products the company also plans to develop a broader range of skiing, après-ski and urban clothing collections, Alessandro Locatelli, who joined Rossignol this year.
"I would like the brand to express the fusion of technology with elegance," said Locatelli, who ran fashion brand Balmain's Hong Kong operations and before that fashion license businesses at Italy's Itierre, such as Just Cavalli, Dolce and Gabbana, and C'N'C Costume National.
One of the world's biggest and oldest ski brands, Rossignol aims to increase the portion of revenue it earns from ski wear significantly from 10 percent currently, Locatelli said. Total sales amounted to 241 million euros ($256 million) in its last financial year ended March 31. Rossignol is controlled by private equity firm Altor, which financed the turnaround of Norwegian clothing brand Helly Hansen. Private equity firm Sandbridge Capital took a minority stake in Rossignol last year to fund its expansion in clothing. Sandbridge has stakes in fashion brands Derek Lam, Top Shop, Tamara Mellon and Karl Lagerfeld, and counts Tommy Hilfiger and former Gucci head Domenico De Sole among its advisers.
(Reporting by Astrid Wendlandt; Editing by James Regan, Greg Mahlich)