Tonie Ong

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Articles on Armani

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When your name has become definitive of the fashions of an era, a country, and an ideal, you know you’ve gotten big. Such is the case of Giorgio Armani, whose fashion empire is one of the biggest in the world to date. His brand has cultivated a lifestyle all its own that is revered by people of all social classes. Almost all of the most high-profile figures have worn or have spoken highly of Armani. He has also defined Italian fashion as a refined and sophisticated style, separate from what other Italian designers have designed through the years.

Even though he’s been in the business for a long time (which is somewhat rare in the fashion industry), his style and identity are still as relevant and significant as ever. Most of today’s fashion designers, both established and emerging, have all been influenced by Mr. Armani one way or another. His classic signatures and new takes on fashion staples have inspired a multitude in the industry, from designers and editors to buyers and clients. Beyond his designs, however, his business strategy has made him survive the fickle world of fashion and still be one of the top brands to this day.

Mark of sophistication

Giorgio Armani show during Milan Fashion Week Spring-Summer 2018
Giorgio Armani show during Milan Fashion Week Spring-Summer 2018

The Armani brand is characterized by a sleek and sophisticated style. Tailored suits for men and women have become the company’s indelible signatures, and the designer himself continues to innovate such style to this day. From the big and broad-shouldered of the 1980’s to the sleek and fitted yuppies of the 21st century, Armani has been one of the go-to labels for people who want an impeccable wardrobe for their modern lifestyles. While new designers have given their own takes on the Armani style, none can even come close to the quality and the attention to detail that the Italian brand stands proudly for.

Brand history foundation

Giorgio Armani posed during the Milan fashion week
Giorgio Armani posed during the Milan fashion week

Born on July 11, 1934, Giorgio Armani grew up in a town called Piacenza in northern Italy. He initially wanted to become a doctor and studied medicine for a couple of years before dropping out and joining the Italian army. During the 1950’s, Armani dropped out of the army and worked as a window dresser at La Rinascente, a department store in Milan. While there, he cultivated a love for the fashion business. He eventually became the department store’s menswear buyer, where he learned the marketing aspects of the industry. By the 1960’s, Armani started designing menswear, first at Nino Cerruti, then freelancing for other Italian houses such as Allegri, Hilton, Bagutta, Montedoro, Sicons, Gibò, and Tendresse. In 1975, he officially opened his own namesake label.

He debuted his menswear and womenswear collections during the Spring season of 1976, and both met critical acclaim and commercial success. Two years later, in 1978, he entered an agreement with Gruppo Finanziario Tessile (GFT), who manufactured his ready-to-wear while he supervised them. He soon became one of the biggest names in ready-to-wear fashion, expanding to the United States and Japan throughout the 1980’s. During this time, he was expanding his marketing to include television ad campaigns and forming his own in-house brand magazine which was mailed to customers and clients. And with the opening of his several equally-famous diffusion lines, his fashion empire grew tenfold and is now one of the most known both in and out of the industry.

Diffusion lines

Tokyu Plaza branch of Emporio Armani in Ginza in central Tokyo
Tokyu Plaza branch of Emporio Armani in Ginza in central Tokyo

Apart from his main ready-to-wear line, Armani’s several diffusion lines have amassed the same amount of prestige. During the 1970’s, he opened a number of those which included Armani Junior (childrenswear), Armani jeans (denim line), and the famous Emporio Armani. Characterized by its iconic eagle logo, Emporio Armani is the only ready-to-wear line from the holds the same importance as the Giorgio Armani mainline as its the only diffusion line directly designed by Giorgio Armani himself. In comparison, the main Giorgio line is more focused on the signature Armani style of sophistication, while Emporio tends to lean on the current trends and the interests of the youth. However, both Armani lines have their own respective spots on the Milan Fashion Week, signifying Emporio’s importance to the Armani corporation.

In 1991, the corporation launched Armani Exchange in the US, which is a more affordable ready-to-wear and lifestyle line. It’s known for their provocative ads that have since made Armani one of the best-marketed companies in the industry. In 2005, in time for his 70th birthday, Armani ventured into Paris and opened his haute couture atelier named Armani Prive. With the same exquisite approach to sleek and shimmering fashions, his haute couture line has since become a highlight of Paris Haute Couture Week. the likes of Anne Hathaway, Diane Kruger, and Angelina Jolie have all become fans and have worn dresses of Armani’s haute couture on the red carpet. In fact, Australian actress Cate Blanchett wore a dress of the designer’s when she won the Academy Award for Best actress in 2014.

Impact on cinema and sports

Emporio Armani perfume

Apart from just a designer and a successful businessman, Armani is also an expert on fashion marketing. Throughout his career, he has continuously innovated his marketing strategies to reach new audiences year after year. He was one of the first ready-to-wear designers to design costumes for films, such as American Gigolo in 1980 and The Untouchables in 1987. He’s also a big fan of sports and has had multiple prominent athletes front his campaign, the most famous of which is Cristiano Ronaldo who appeared in his Armani underwear campaigns. Displaying national pride, he’s dressed Italy’s National Olympic team both for the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin and the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

Armani is no longer just a fashion brand and designer—the name has become an institution of high Italian luxury. Similarly to how Ralph Lauren is in the US, Armani created a specific lifestyle that has been universally embraced by high-profile clients and worldwide customers alike.

Armani Logo

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