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On Staying Pertinent and Relevant for 160 years
Q & A with Filippo Arnaboldi, CEO Frette

Bearing a rich heritage that dates back to 1860, Frette’s beautiful linens and home furnishings achieved major goals for their design and quality early on. From becoming the Official Purveyor of linen for the Italian Royal Family in 1881, to creating the specially woven alter tablecloth for the St Peter’s Basilica in Rome in 1894, the legacy is rich. It is commendable that even as Frette celebrates its 160th anniversary, it continues to uphold the same exalted luxury status. In an exclusive for the readers of The Luxury Chronicle, Estelle Arielle Bouchet connected with Filippo Arnaboldi,  CEO Frette for an insight.

By Estelle Arielle Bouchet
December 2020

Frette is a Latin name, which embodies the symbol of elegant houses, allured boats and exclusive spaces.

Frette is also a name meaning ‘hurry’, while it is a company 160 years of age with deep roots in Art de Vivre, Elegance and Slow Life…making a lot more sense in a corona virus  era where Interiority finds its full dimension.

Here is my interview with Filippo Arnaboldi  CEO Frette.

On December 18, Frette will celebrate its 160th Anniversary. Which thoughts and challenges come to your mind for such a large jubilee to be honored? What do you plan to organize for this celebration?

December will mark Frette’s 160th anniversary. We are tremendously proud of what we have accomplished over the last 160 years and look forward to our continued evolution as a luxury lifestyle brand and as an innovator in the home décor space.  Our top priority is to continue evolving our product offering and services to meet our clients’ evolving needs and changing lifestyle while staying relevant.While we had ambitious plans to kick off the celebrations, our plans were unfortunately placed on pause given the uncertainty of the global situation. Having said that we are taking the opportunity to have thoughtful and strategic conversations internally as to the safest, most appropriate way to mark this anticipated occasion throughout 2021.

Having actually to address this special era of corona virus, houses and private spaces become kind of “Edens,” how Frette plays its role and embodies the interiors sphere itself?

Because Frette has brought comfort to our clients around the world for 160 years, our mission has never been more relevant in this challenging moment.We have found that comfort is personal not only in the way you dress your bed and improve the décor of your home, but also in the way you approach shopping. We started connecting with clients in creative ways, both digitally and in-store. We implemented our customer care team and launched a virtual styling studio to assist clients in their home décor endeavors. Think of it as a substitute of our world-class retail experience online, a way to offer support to those who are less comfortable shopping in-store or online. Clients can connect in real-time with a Frette Specialist who will work with them by video, phone, chat or email to re-imagine their space, proposing creative solutions and products, complemented by a personal touch. Additionally, we amplified our bespoke services, with the goal to offer individualized assistance and personalize our clientele product choices.

How do you plan to keep the “Made in Italy” label for the future of Frette? Does it mean being more protectionist about Italian know-how? Where your production units are based?

Frette’s storied heritage is rooted in a commitment to unparalleled quality and fine craftsmanship. To be “Made in Italy” simply assures the best, highest standards, year over year.While we will always remain true to our roots, we are also constantly seeking to innovate and evolve as a brand. Today we collaborate with a variety of artisans throughout Italy, who are each experts in their craft, but we also carefully select additional partners when appropriate to secure the best product and service to our customers. For example, we produce some wonderful, plush cotton terry for our bath linens in Portugal, as we found it more luxurious.

Which kind of difficulties do you have to grapple with in terms of management and new developments perspectives in the context we know?

The greatest challenge we have had to overcome throughout the course of the current situation so far has been related to our global scale and different business channels, which were touched by the pandemic in different ways, for the good or the bad – whether it be how to safely close or re-open our boutiques, sharing logistical updates with our partners around the world and addressing concerns from clients or colleagues. Our global teams are in constant communication, discussing challenges and brainstorming solutions to overcome any challenges we may encounter. We also empower our teams across business channels to embrace an entrepreneurial spirit when it comes to reaching out clients, both in a B to B and B to C environment, and assuring them we remain willing and able to assist them, especially in the current environment.

How does an elegant and traditional House like Frette explore the modernity in terms of creativity?
Which specific products would you like to explore and comment?

We believe that nothing is more modern than a well-designed, long-lasting, season-less product.Our collections are designed to accompany our clients in their daily lives for many years, thanks to a strong foundation of iconic timeless products, which are refreshed every season with new colorways and design motifs, always working together seamlessly.

We are especially proud of our jacquards, as Frette was the first company to use the revolutionary Vincenzi looms for jacquard weaves in 1878. Since then, our jacquards – such as Luxury Glowing Weave, Ornate Medallion and Forever – have evolved to become complex, intricate pieces of art for the bedroom. 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, to allow our customers to embrace Frette’s lifestyle in every room of their home and beyond it.Additionally, with our Bespoke Service, we give our clients carte blanche to create unique linens that reflect their own style of living with bedding and bath linens with custom embroidery and emblems, themed designs and unique colorways. So the last touch of creativity does happen in store. It’s exciting to see these one-of-a-kind pieces come together in a collection that’s truly exclusive to the client.

What is your vision for Frette’s future?

As we weave our path forward, we will continue to evolve our product offering and expand our services to meet the ever-changing tastes of the modern consumer while always remaining true to our roots. We will also continue building upon the tailored, personalized experience our colleagues around the world consistently deliver, both in-store and digitally.

We follow a very selective growth strategy in an effort to maintain our strong luxury identity. Our target markets are international destinations such as Paris, New York, London, the Middle East and Asia. As we continue to grow our business globally, we will align ourselves with the right partners, in the right markets, who take each step with us hand-in-hand to grow mutually stronger each year.

The current global pandemic has forced brands to rethink the old retail and marketing strategies. What changes have you planned for Frette?

Recently, Frette’s mission has never been more relevant. Our approach has shifted, connecting with clients in creative ways, both digitally and in-store. While building upon the core values of our brand, like our bespoke services, we assured our clients could schedule private in-store appointments or enjoy a tailored experience from the comforts of home with the Virtual Styling Studio, that allows clients to receive a personalized retail experience over video, phone, chat or email.

As the concept of “home” will only become more important, we will continue to adapt our offering and services to meet evolving needs for comfort while simultaneously implementing fresh, innovative ways to communicate our brand messages.

What is the most significant change that you have brought about in Frette’s 160 year old history?

Historically, Frette was best known for dressing some of the most illustrious bedrooms in the world – from European royalty to the presidential suites of the most celebrated hotels. Over the past few years, we extended our reach far beyond the bedroom to become a truly global lifestyle brand.

With our new design journey that debuted in 2018, we have established a strong foundation of timeless, iconic bed and bath linens as well as decorative accents, reinvigorated each season with fresh colorways and motifs, always working together seamlessly. These long-lasting, season-less luxury products are meticulously designed to accompany our clients throughout their daily lives and assist them in improving their living spaces.

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