In conversation with Filippo Arnaboldi, CEO Frette

From its bases in Monza and Milan, Frette employs only the finest fibres and most skilled artisans to craft a range of products that have come to embody luxury, comfort and creativity across the globe. Known for chic, original designs and inimitable finish and feel, Frette bed linens can be found in many of the world’s most prestigious hotels, from Claridge’s to The Peninsula, as well as in the most discerning private homes, yachts and aircrafts.

How did your company perform in 2019 and what are your expectations for 2020? 

We had an incredibly successful year, experiencing growth across all business channels, including e-commerce, hospitality and wholesale. Additionally, we further expanded our global footprint, opening three new retail stores in addition to re-opening refreshed boutiques in several cities globally. We also launched a new direct-to-consumer brand in the United States, H by Frette, providing consumers with the opportunity to bring home the very linens relied upon for decades by the world’s most iconic hotels. We’re eager to continue this pattern of growth in 2020.

In an increasingly turbulent economic and political context, which do you consider as the key disruptive factors and what has been your approach to tackle them?

Economic uncertainty always presents a challenge for the luxury industry when clients curb their spending. Our global teams are in constant communication, discussing challenges and brainstorming solutions. We also empower our teams across business channels to embrace an entrepreneurial spirit, uncovering new clients through creative methods.   

Besides your direct sales to consumers, Frette has always been a key supplier to major luxury hotel companies or groups around the world. How have your operations evolved and what are your strategic aims?

Our founder, Edmond Frette, possessed the entrepreneurial spirit that we encourage colleagues to adopt, selling his linens door-to-door to hotels early on. When the Royal Hotel Danieli in Venice – now Hotel Danieli, a Luxury Collection Hotel – commissioned Frette linens in 1899, others soon followed suit including The Ritz in Paris, The Savoy in London and The Plaza in New York.

Today, we’re honoured to call some of the world’s most iconic brands, such as St. Regis Hotels & Resorts, The Ritz-Carlton, Rosewood Hotels & Resorts, Soho House and The Peninsula Hotels, our partners. Over the last two decades, our hospitality channel has grown to become one of our largest segments of the business, both in volume and in revenue. As we continue to grow this channel globally, we will continue to align ourselves with like-minded luxury properties and brands.   

What is your view on creating and maintaining awareness both online and offline? Which are the key features of your company / brand DNA – how important are your Italian roots / heritage?

An omni-channel marketing approach is critical to the success of Frette. While many of our clients prefer a more personal offline, in-person experience, we are simultaneously nurturing a younger generation of clientele that is discovering us and making purchases digitally. We achieve visibility through a variety of means, such as dressing model units in some of the most desirable real estate near our boutiques, digital advertising efforts, collaborating with our hotel partners and partnering with appropriate influencers on social media. 

Frette’s storied heritage is rooted in a commitment to unparalleled quality and fine Italian craftsmanship. We use the best fibers and collaborate with the most skilled artisans to craft products with an inimitable finish and feel. We’re proud to have been featured everywhere from the altar of St. Peter’s Basilica to the dining cars of the Orient Express – and, more than 500 royal families have slept beneath our sheets. While we’re constantly seeking to innovate and evolve as a brand, we will always remain true to our roots.

When it comes to an individual consumer, is there a profile we can speak of? How loyal are luxury consumers nowadays?

Our client, like Frette, is international. They are someone who travels often and typically has multiple homes and pied-à-terre. They have an appreciation for the quality and artisanal craftsmanship of our products. We like to say that our clients can experience Frette in nearly every aspect of their lives – whether it’s staying in a beautiful hotel, flying halfway across the globe, cruising or being within the comforts of their own home.

We have a loyal clientele who come to us time and time again for our innovative designs, unparalleled quality and tailored service.

What is your approach to expansion? Is there any particular region or countries you are targeting?

We follow a very selective growth strategy in an effort to maintain our strong luxury identity. Our target markets are international destinations such as New York, London, Paris, the Middle East and Asia. Last year, we opened new retail locations in Asia in Phnom Penh, Nanjing and Hangzhou as well as launched refreshed stores and shop-in-shops in Taipei, Taiwan, Paris, Boston and in London at Harrods. Additionally, we focused on further strengthening established partnerships with retail partners such as Bloomingdale’s, Harrods and Lane Crawford. As we continue to grow our business globally, we will align ourselves with the right partners who take each step with us hand-in-hand to grow mutually stronger each year. 

Luxury brands, regardless of the sector, are increasingly highlighting lifestyle and creating experiences for clients / guests. What is your view?

Clients seek Frette products for our unparalleled quality and design know-how. But, it’s not enough to only offer a beautiful product – the experience has to match. Our global specialists tailor the experience for each client, offering personalized in-store or in-home consultations and working hand-in-hand with clients to create a look that complements their individual tastes and preferences. We also provide in-home installations of our products and offer the option to educate clients or their staff on how best to care for their linens to ensure they last over time.

Also, our Bespoke Service provides clients the opportunity to completely customize their bedding or bath linens with custom embroidery and emblems, themed designs and unique colorways. It’s exciting to see these one-of-a-kind pieces come together in a collection that’s truly exclusive to the client.

Have you considered diversifying into furniture and other interior design elements?

We are experts in luxury linens, having honed our craft for nearly 160 years. More recently, we have begun to transition beyond the bedroom and bathroom with accent pieces for the home, including throws and decorative pillows as well as home fragrances. While furniture isn’t on the horizon, we’ll be sharing some exciting new launches in the coming months.

What novelties shall we expect in 2020? Are you also envisaging what has become a common exercise, which collaborations / capsule collections?

In 2020, we’ll continue to build upon our Style of Living assemblage with new releases in both spring and fall. Style of Living is our new collection of classics which launched in 2018 that prioritizes the agility of the product over passing seasonal trends while also allowing for nearly infinite design possibilities across generations – from minimalist to extravagant, from geometric to romantic and ornate.

Additionally, Frette will celebrate its 160th Anniversary this December. While we can’t divulge how we’ll be marking this milestone quite yet, this is a momentous occasion for any luxury heritage brand. We are tremendously proud of what we have accomplished over the last 160 years and look forward to continuing our evolution as a brand and as an innovator in the home décor space. 

Credit from CCP Luxury

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