Italia Independent Group S.p.A.
Italia Independent Group S.p.A. – Listed company (IIG – Euronext Growth Milan/Alternative Capital Market) – through its subsidiaries, is one of the top sunglass and eyeglass frame design and distribution companies. Thanks to its expertise in product design, even outside the industry, it boasts numerous commercial collaborations, including companies whose core business is not eyewear.
Italia Independent’s portfolio includes the brands owned by Italia Independent and Laps Collection, as well as licenced brands: Hublot (LVMH group) and CR7 – Cristiano Ronaldo (debuting in the eyewear sector).
The Italia Independent model focusses on creative ability, qualitative product development and wholesale distribution. The distribution model allows full appreciation of the utmost product quality and a distribution policy that is customised according to the needs of the various brands.
History and Milestones
LA S.p.A., now called Italia Independent S.p.A., was incorporated on 1 August 2006. The Italia Independent brand was founded in January 2007, following the promotion and launch of a single product with innovative features, a carbon fibre pair of sunglasses handmade in Italy at a retail price of 1,007 Euros. From the outset, the Group’s strategy was based on focus and differentiation, with the aim of attracting maximum media attention for the Italia Independent brand and disseminating the “philosophy” of the brand.
In June 2007, the Group’s founders set up an agency called Independent Ideas in order to capitalise on their expertise in communication. 2007 was also the year in which the Group acquired a 17.5% minority stake in We Care S.r.l., which owns the Care Label brand, specialising in the production of high-quality denim, for the provision of support related to branding, communication and product development.
2008 saw L.A. Holding actually Italia Independent Group S.p.A., the incorporation of a holding company at the head of the Group in order to rationalise the entrepreneurial activities of Lapo Edovard Elkann, the other founding members and the Group’s top management in the field of eyewear, design and communication. 2008 was also the first year in which the Italia Independent brand enjoyed widespread dissemination, thanks to the launch of its debut collection of sunglasses and a number of articles of clothing, as well as marking the beginning of its collaboration with top brands such as Borsalino (hats), Arfango (shoes), Iveco (vehicles) and Pantofola d’Oro (footwear).
In 2009, the Group decided to focus on the core business of eyewear, licensing the production of clothing to the company Brama Sportswear. Regarding the eyewear sector, the Group launched its debut models of eyeglass frames and began the integrated and direct management of its organisational model. Distribution rose to around 220 customers in Italy and also began abroad; a temporary store was also opened in Saint Tropez. In addition to on-going collaborations with Arfango and Borsalino, there were those with Spy (a manufacturer of ski goggles) and Alfa Romeo.
In 2010, the range of Italia Independent products was bolstered by the launch of the first ever velvet glasses (I-velvet). The distribution network rose to approximately 650 customers in Italy and continued to expand abroad. There were also new collaborations with Dinh Van (a company that manufactures men’s jewellery), Meritalia (operating in the furniture sector), Diesel (jeans) and Vans (a footwear company).
Evolution of the group
In 2011, the Group further extended its product offering by launching the I-thin family of glasses and expanding the range of models and colours available. Distribution rose to around 1.000 customers in Italy.
There were also new collaborations with Orciani (belt manufacturer), bStripe/Blossom (ski manufacturers), Toy Watch (watches) and Meritalia (a furniture collection inspired by the historic Fiat 500).
In 2011, the first single-brand franchise stores were opened in Alassio, Alessandria and Courmayeur and there was a communication campaign involving historical figures, as well as the “Be Independent. Everywhere” campaign in Japan and Scandinavia.
The Group continued to develop in 2012, thanks to the launch of the I-cons family of eyewear and the I-teen family, the first to be specifically designed for children and teenagers. The Group’s distribution network numbered approximately 1,400 customers in Italy and its presence abroad was also consolidated.
During 2012, new collaborations were established with important partners, including Juventus, Eclectic (men’s jackets), Invicta (bags), K-way (sports jackets), Bear (swimming trunks), Mark Mahoney (dedicated range of eyewear), Victoria’s Secret (dedicated range of eyewear), Smeg (refrigerators), Vertu (mobile phones) and Able to enjoy (wheelchairs for the disabled). The “shop in shop” project also kicked off, which involved setting-up Italia Independent stands at selected opticians, with the aim of attracting traffic to the premises and increasing the sales of glasses.
In addition, 5 new mono-brand franchise stores were opened in Bergamo, Porto Montenegro, Bologna, Turin and Sestriere, as well as the first outlet at the Turin headquarters. The licence granted to Brama Sportswear for the production of lifestyle products expired at the end of 2012 and the Group commenced internal production.
The Group began the process of brand internationalisation: Italia Independent USA Corp. was incorporated in September 2012, with headquarters in Miami, to manage the American market and local units in France and Spain; a number of distribution contracts were also signed in the Middle East, Japan and in other countries.
The development of Independent Ideas in 2012 continued with the signing important new contracts, for example with Ferrari, Baglietto, Juventus, Jeep, Smeg and Vertu.
In September 2020, Italia Independent inaugurated its Meneghino Flagship Store at number 24 in Via Fiori Chiari – in the heart of Brera, a magical place with a romantic and bohemian feel, a district of artists, students and intellectuals who have transformed it into an environment of great charm, elegance and creativity.
Listing on the stock exchange
Italia Independent Group was listed on AIM Italia (today Euronext Growth Milan) in June 2013 In that same year, it won the Ernst & Young award for Entrepreneur of the year, having taken a short number of years to achieve a measure of success in a traditional industry, thanks to an ability to work on the uniqueness of its products and its promotion of beauty as a key factor in the success of Made in Italy products, managing to be listed on Euronext Growth Milan after a mere 6 years.
Italia Independent received recognition from MIT Technology Review Italia, the Italian edition of the authoritative Massachusetts Institute of Technology magazine dedicated to technological innovation, which included it in the 2014 top 10 most innovative Italian companies in the “smart & disruptive” category. The award acknowledged the results achieved in the field of research and innovation by Italia Independent, the first company in the world to introduce the velvet effect on eyewear.
Another significant and exclusive technological innovation from the Italia Independent brand, called I-Thermic, also contributed to the award. Two innovations “Made in Italy” that represent a significant contribution to the global eyewear market.
Collaborations & licences
There have been a number of collaborations over the years with prestigious international companies – including adidas Originals, Hublot and Ducati – with which exclusive and unique products have been developed. These activities confirm the validity of a business model focussed on eyewear and aided by prestigious partnerships that confer an all-round status to the Italia Independent brand.
In 2014, Italia Independent and Hublot signed a multi-year, synergistic agreement for the manufacture of a series of products in their respective fields of excellence. Glasses and watches with both stylistic and technical cutting-edge features, capable of exploiting the know-how of the two companies, which worked together closely on their development. The project was unveiled at a press conference held in Baselworld in March 2014.
Italia Independent officially entered the world of licensing in 2015, agreeing exclusive partnerships with some of the world’s premiere companies: Hublot (LVMH), adidas, The Walt Disney Company Italia, BBC, Juventus, Fiat 500 and many others.
In January 2020, Italia Independent Group announced an exclusive global agreement – lasting five years – between Italia Independent and Cristiano Ronaldo’s brand for the creation of CR7 branded eyewear collections.
The debut CR7 Eyewear collection has been entirely designed for, dedicated to and inspired by Cristiano Ronaldo. The collection is available on sale from Spring/Summer 2020 by the best opticians in the world and on the top e-commerce platforms.
In September 2020, Italia Independent announce the signing of an international agreement that formalises the renewal of the licensing agreement up to 31 December 2024 for the creation of Eyewear collections. The renewal – signed before reaching the expiry date – confirms the relationship of great trust and respect created in recent years between the Swiss luxury manufacturer and the fashion and Italia Independent.
In February 2021, Italia Independent announced the signing of a two-year sponsorship agreement with Enea Bastianini. The sponsorship agreement provides for the launch of a line of Italia Independent eyewear whose design Lapo Elkann and Enea Bastianini work directly.
In June 2021, a three-year agreement was signed for the creation of eyewear collections under license with Pacha, the most iconic and globally known lifestyle and entertainment brand. The first co-branding collection between Pacha and the Group hit the market during the summer and went on sale at Pacha stores and the e-commerce of both companies.
Lapo Edovard Elkann is the chairperson and founder of Italia Independent Group and Garage Italia Customs. Born in New York (USA) in 1977, following his studies in France and Great Britain and a role as assistant to Henry Kissinger, Lapo distinguished himself as Global Head of Brand Promotion for Fiat Group (now FCA), during which he successfully implemented numerous BTL marketing projects and participated in the relaunch of the Fiat 500. In 2007, he set on an entrepreneurial path by founding the “Italia Independent” lifestyle brand, the “Independent Ideas” advertising and creativity agency and the “Italia Independent Group” holding company, listed on the Italian stock exchange in June 2013. In 2011 he began working with Ferrari on the Tailor Made project . In March 2015, he founded Garage Italia Customs, which offers customised solutions to the automotive and transport sector. In July 2013, he was inducted into the Automobile Hall of Fame, an American institution that celebrates and promotes successful figures in the automotive sector. He sits on the Board of Directors of Ferrari S.p.A and is a member of the Board of Directors of Good Films and Pinacoteca Gianni and Marella Agnelli.
Marco Cordeddu (CEO) is a manager with proven experience, having held senior positions in leading companies in the fashion, publishing, entertainment and automotive sectors, such as Canepa, De Agostini Publishing, Mikado Film and Fiat Auto. Marco Cordeddu is currently chairperson of the Stalam S.p.A. industrial group.
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