Italian fashion brand Franklin & Marshal has just opened its flagship store in the Middle East at The Dubai Mall. The Directory caught up with CEO and co-founder Giuseppe Albarelli to talk about the brand’s very American heritage.
Q: Tell us a little about your history.
A; We started in 1998 after I met my partner Andrea Pensiero, who was my customer. I was selling sailing bags and sail material. We are both big fans of collegiate style so one day we got talking and decided to work on a brand that specialised in American vintage clothing with a collegiate style.
But before we began, we first travelled around America. We went to a lot of second-hand shops and picked up samples. At that time in Europe there was no brand that proposed that kind of style. So success was very fast. And within two years, we started to export to France, Spain and Greece.
Q: How did you come up with the name?
A: We found a sweatshirt in a New York second-hand shop with Franklin & Marshal written on it. After two years, we found a college with the same name in Pennsylvania. They were happy for us to represent them after realizing that our job was not damaging for their reputation and that it was an opportunity for them to be known.
Would you say you are fashionable?
This brand represents me because I am an easy-going man. It is a relaxed brand.
Q: Why Americana?
A: My partner and I grew up watching American films and songs. I was always obsessed with sweatshirts that had Harvard or Wisconsin written on it. And I was lucky because my partner was crazy about this type of style too. When he was 18, he travelled around the USA and starting selling American vintage furniture and opened a shop in Italy. So it is a shared passion.
Q: Has it been easy or difficult to expand?
A: At the beginning it was not difficult in terms of business but in terms of penetration, yes. Our growth was very fast and we were two people, who were working in a converted mechanic shop without heating in Verona. For me it was very difficult to follow the growth because it just exploded. In terms of reaction by consumer, it was easy because there was a big hole in the market.
Q: How do you decide on pricing?
A: We always position ourselves in the medium-high level. Producing in Italy, we have a lower margin. But we are conscious that our products need to have the right balance between quality and price.
Q: Where else would you like to take Franklin & Marshal?
A: Our goal is to continue to build our reputation and maintain it. We want to continue to work properly and grow in Europe where we want to be properly established. In the Middle East, we want to open 10 stores in the next five years.