Family-run knitwear manufacturer, Doratex, with Cesare Ferrari at the helm, expanded their presence in the knitwear market with the acquisition of luxury trademark Avon Celli. Recently Ferrari took some time during the Pitti Uomo trade show in Florence to sit down with Elite Traveler Editor-in-Chief, Douglas Gollan, and Editorial Director, Laura Hughes, to discuss his passion for knitwear, his favorite travel destinations and the future of Avon Celli.
ET: So why don’t you tell us a little about your history, where you’re from here in Italy, and a little bit about what you did before you bought Avon Celli?
Cesare Ferrari: The company Doratex was producing knitworks, bespoke and tailored, since the end of 1950. Doratex grew in the 70s through their technology and style and was recognized worldwide for a specific set of knitwear. Eventually with the help of the big names in Italy—Valentino, Armani, Versace—worldwide recognition of Italy was big. For other companies working in this business, the recognition was really a plus for us as well.
Knitwear is a sort of creative interpretation of styling. It starts from the yarn, and involves texture, tailoring, measuring, and actually it is different from anything else. For this reason, knitwear can complement classic tailor dressing, can be sportive, can be fancy. In this particular case, knitwear can be creatively styled and the styling must be driven by a company, such as Doratex, who realizes that yarn can make a difference.
ET: So tell us what attracted you to Avon Celli, and why you ended up buying it.
Cesare Ferrari: It was inevitable that Doratex bought Avon Celli because as far as knitwear, this kind of specialization was very unique. We’ve done a complex assortment of superlative knitwear since the end of the 50s. Doratex is an old company, one of the oldest in Italy and representative of many Italian knitwear companies. Avon Celli was an old company with a very strong identity. It was key to our competition in the market.
Today, if you want an overview, we have covered 70 countries with a different penetration of 70 different importers and distributors. It’s strategic to be present in this market with this brand because Avon Celli’s brand is one of the top. We also have Christiano Fissore for men’s and ladies’, and Gio Ferrari. Gio Ferrari presents creative knitwear, from trendy to traditional. Avon Celli presents luxury, sophisticated knitwear for the esteemed and wealthy customer who wants real quality without any compromise.
ET: Since you acquired Avon Celli, are there any changes you’ve made, and what do you see as the future direction?
Cesare Ferrari: We developed the knitwear in the cut-and-sew and in tailoring. We make coats, jackets and sportive pieces. We complete the total look of knitwear. We also developed intimate luxury wear with jogging sweaters, jogging pants. Now we also develop plaids and blankets.
ET: For private jets?
Cesare Ferrari: For private jets. For private luxury, which is used in private homes. It’s real and pure luxury.
ET: Speaking about private life and private luxury, maybe outside of business, tell us about some of your hobbies or passions.
Cesare Ferrari: As a hobby, I like skiing and playing tennis. I enjoy theater as well. Sometimes I cook for friends, which is another hobby—but I only cook for special friends and for particular parties, which is a tradition in Europe to have private parties. Sometimes, I also like gardening and being in the open air, in contact with nature.
ET: Talk a little bit about cooking. What types of things do you cook?
Cesare Ferrari: I usually like to cook things like salads and pasta, naturally.
ET: Do you make your own pasta?
Cesare Ferrari: Yes, but only for friends—if they drink red wine. I like red wine and small parties during the weekend.
ET: And what about skiing? Where would you recommend good skiing?
Cesare Ferrari: In Italy. We are lucky because in a short time, in a few hours, you can drive from the seaside to the mountain. I go skiing in Italy or Switzerland. The mountains are very close.
ET: So you’re an elite traveler. Tell us about, in your travels, where you like to go and what are some of your favorite places to travel, and if you have any favorite hotels or resorts.
Cesare Ferrari: One of my favorite places is Kathmandu in Nepal because there life is quieter, more relaxed. If I want to see something interesting, really interesting and new, I go to Tokyo, Japan. Also New York is an expression of worldwide culture, a mixture of mentality, an expression of life and energy. I see New York as a new center of the world—a cultural and economic center of the world. I love New York for the energy it can give you.
ET: Do you have a favorite hotel in New York?
Cesare Ferrari: I like The Carlyle on the Upper East Side. I like places with tradition that are innovate yet traditional.
ET: What about in London or Tokyo?
Cesare Ferrari: In London I like The Dorchester, which has great quality and service.
ET: And in Tokyo, do you have a favorite hotel?
Cesare Ferrari: No, in Tokyo I have a few. The Japanese chain hotels are small and less well-known. There is a high quality Hyatt, but the local unknown, unbranded hotels have great service. In Japan, they are very close to the customer. Japan is an ancient country, and like Italy, is very close to their tradition, but very innovative, technological and the people are very kind. They are a bit stressed about work, because they are workaholics, as you know. They have a stressed mentality, but the culture is very kind. Japan is very similar to the Italian social organization. They are close to Italians in style and their consumer clothes are sophisticated. In Japan, they appreciate Italian things.
ET: Just speaking about 2009, any new developments or new plans for any of your companies?
Cesare Ferrari: With Avon Celli, we’ve approached the idea of starting a program of opening and co-marketing with a group in the United Arab Emirates, and we’re always making innovations in the product. We push innovation a lot. We’re also taking real control of the quality, because Avon Celli is superlative quality without any compromise.