Aquazzura celebrates its first decade of activity – WWD
MILAN — Aquazzura celebrates its 10th anniversary this year and founder Edgardo Osorio still marvels at this milestone. “It seems like yesterday and yet like there is life. It’s funny, a lot of people are surprised they never think it’s just 10 years.
This is likely due to the brand status and notoriety that Aquazzura has achieved over the decade, as the designer has managed to build a strong, independent business and develop a loyal following that includes celebrities and members of the royal family ranging from Kate Middleton to Nicole Kidman and Scarlett. Johansson, to name a few.
However, nothing happened by chance and Osorio pays tribute to the craftsmen with whom he has worked over the years, who have passed on to him their know-how and their passion for this craft. One of its objectives is to keep the traditional techniques of Made in Italy, passed down from generation to generation, flourishing for the future.
Osorio was just a teenager when he started his internship and worked for a decade in the industry before launching Aquazzura. “I had time to put my feet on the ground and to develop my experience and the good contacts with manufacturers, suppliers and craftsmen before launching my own account,” explained Osorio. “It’s a company that cannot be improvised, experience is so important, never suggest otherwise.”
He recalled how he had always been interested in design, interiors and fashion, “obsessed with making the world beautiful and doing beautiful things”, he laughed. “Since I have a memory of it, I have always liked to sketch and draw.”
After a summer course at Central Saint Martins in London, he and his teachers quickly realized he needed to focus on props. “It was quite natural for me and I’m a very instinctive person, I work and live by instinct and it felt like the right way to go.”
The anniversary is not a time to look back, however, as Osorio is busy expanding the Aquazzura product offering. After showcasing a line for the house during Milan Design Week, Osorio is presenting the Tequila clutch to mark the brand’s anniversary, flanking the Tequila sandal, and it will unveil a full-fledged handbag collection to retailers in July. . This will be launched in the first quarter of next year.
The designer has already tackled this segment with a capsule of 20 unique limited-edition bags with semi-precious stones with French artist Béatrice Serre for the Venice Biennale. “This was sold that very evening to collectors,” he said proudly.
The new collection of handbags will be “versatile” but more focused on daywear “in communication” with shoes. Osorio said the launch was in response to market demand from partners and customers.
“I’ve wanted to do this for a long time and I’ve had 10 years to perfect the formula. I think I’ve finally found the right direction. It’s a very big category and it’s very rare for shoe brands to see the bags become a big part of their business,” Osorio said. The bags are also made in Italy.
In September, Aquazzura will also launch its first collection of men’s shoes in the first quarter of next year. It will have “a real focus on comfort, for a smart casual collection, offering an alternative to sneakers”, specifies the designer, who is also eyeing glasses, perfumes and cosmetics.
The company’s sales are expected to total between 66 and 70 million euros in 2022 and Osorio said Aquazzura has experienced “really high double-digit growth” from 2019 and onwards, despite the pandemic. of COVID-19.
“We were very lucky that the business was profitable in the first year,” he said.
Asked about the rumors surrounding a possible sale of the brand, Osorio said that “independence is rare and we like it, but we know that to take it to the next level, to sales of 200 or 300 million euros, it takes a strategic and cash partnership. I don’t see that happening in 2022 or 2023, but in the short to medium term, yes, and investors could also help grow our stores and our team.
Wholesale accounts for 68% of total sales, but Osorio is planning an expansion of the brand’s retail network, which includes 15 stores. “We want this channel to represent 60 to 70% of the activity in the next few years,” he said. Recent openings include units in Paris and Madrid. In September, the brand’s largest boutique will open in Florence. Osorio pays particular attention to interiors, given his passion for design and contemporary art, with unique pieces.
The United States is Aquazzura’s main market, accounting for between 40 and 45 percent of the total, followed by Europe and the Middle East, where Osorio said it has seen “explosive growth” over the past three years. Namely, it plans to expand to Dubai and open a second store in Doha, eyeing “a strategic partnership” in Saudi Arabia. Osorio, who was born in Colombia, also focuses on South America and Mexico in particular. “We have a huge Latin American community of customers who also shop in Europe and the United States,” he noted.
Online traffic is up 110% from 2021 and Osorio expects the brand to nearly double its web business by the end of the year. “Omnichannel last year was phenomenal, that’s where we see a really big engine of growth,” he said.
On June 15, Aquazzura unveiled a capsule collection with Mytheresa, inspired by the designer’s newfound love for diving “and the amazing coral reefs I visited in Bonaire and the Maldives last year,” he said. declared. With undersea colors, the Meteorite sandals come in bright, summery iridescent shades of blue, green and yellow plexiglass with matching crystals.
The capsules “bring excitement to the brand and offer an interesting and fresh point of view,” he said, adding that they go from “opportunity and friendships,” citing, for example, his collection with Marie-Louise Sciò, General Manager and Creative Director of Pellicano Hotels, on her Issimo platform.
“I don’t consider myself a fashion person, I’m interested in culture and what’s going on right now. I travel eight months a year and am fascinated by what people are wearing, where they are going, what is going on in the world,” Osorio continued. “Culture moves me, not trends, I do what comes to me instinctively, whether it becomes a trend or not. Good design should stand the test of time, it shouldn’t be seasonal, for me it’s about making a woman look amazing and feel amazing. If something is well designed, it should look good in 10 years. I hate the idea of things that are fashionable. What is the current trend? Everything is a trend and nothing is a trend, you make the trends and with Instagram a trend can be created in a day and die a week later. Luxury doesn’t have to be trendy, it has to stand the test of time and be cherished because it’s done right. Luxury means that someone has spent time thinking about the customer, thinking about how she is going to wear this product and enjoy it based on her life.