Italian Knitwear Scion Margherita Missoni Launches New Brand
Photo: Paula Lingyi Sun

Italian Knitwear Scion Margherita Missoni Launches New Brand

This article originally appeared on Vogue Business. To receive the Vogue Business newsletter, sign up here.

Seventy years ago, her grandparents Ottavio and Rosita founded Missoni, the house that modernised Italian knitwear and prefigured the rise of athleisure. Now, Margherita Missoni is poised to strike out on her own with a new venture. The Maccapani label will combine cutting-edge Italian jersey fabrications with the Missoni scion’s post-streetwear, feminocentric philosophy.

“In principle it’s genderless. Everyone is invited to try it,” says Missoni. “This is why we’ve shot it on both a woman and a man. However, unlike a lot of contemporary casual clothing that is derived from menswear, Maccapani is also rooted in a fundamentally female point of view. And, it’s very much built around the shape of a woman.”

Sebastian Palomares and Miriam Fahim.

Photo: Paula Lingyi Sun and Pavel Golik

The brand has been in development since 2021 and will deliver two collections annually. Its first presentation, effectively see-now-buy-now, is pencilled in to take place in Milan during menswear week in June, a day before the company’s e-commerce site goes live. Maccapani is being produced in partnership with the Cattolica-based manufacturer Gilmar, which owns and produces Italian fashion brand Iceberg.

Maccapani will be sold both direct-to-consumer (DTC) online, and via wholesale partners Nordstrom and Browns. A later drop in September will see the introduction of a partnership with Farfetch where resale platform Vestiaire Collective will offer items from the Maccapani collection alongside the vintage accessories with which they styled. “We are not yet in the position to offer accessories, plus in the real world the vintage and new are often combined,” says Missoni, “so it seems realistic and honest to present Maccapani that way too.”

The granddaughter of Missoni’s founders, Margherita Maccapani Missoni.

Photo: Paula Lingyi Sun

Initially the brand will focus on building markets in Europe and the US, before exploring expansion into other regions. Missoni says that her ideal sales ratio is a 50/50 split between DTC and her carefully-chosen group of wholesale partners. “We are going to be very flexible and fluid with our deliveries, and tailor them to demand,” she adds.

Missoni, whose mother Angela was for many years Missoni’s creative director, has named the brand Maccapani after her father Marco’s family name (it is also her middle name). “This is my B-side,” says Missoni. The brand’s logo is based on that of her grandfather’s now-closed Varese travel agency, from which was preserved a 1970s travel grip bag that Missoni plans eventually to reproduce for sale as Maccapani’s first accessory. Marco, an events producer and former artistic director of the Venice Carnival, will produce his daughter’s debut presentation.

Missoni’s first role in fashion was for the family firm: she worked alongside her mother as an assistant, before moving to oversee collections including swimwear. After a period outside of the company, during which she worked on several collaborations, she returned to design the M Missoni diffusion line for several years. It was then, she recounts, that she noticed that the line’s best sellers — despite being labelled with a famous knitwear marque — were often pieces in modern jersey fabrications, often viscose-based, sometimes featuring intarsias. “This was the beginning of the Maccapani thought process,” she says.

Jade Removille.

Photo: Pavel Golik

Another landmark in that process was the pandemic. “After Covid, nobody wanted to give up comfort. I started to think how you could retain it in a functionally attractive aesthetic that follows modern life, and that is feminine and put-together — not sloppy. There seemed to be a new space in the market for an alternative to streetwear or athleisure that starts from women and a feminine mindset, rather than being adapted from a masculine one. So, I decided to build a collection fully developed in jersey — just not sweatshirt jersey. It is much more refined and made.”

The result is a tight collection that hybridises streetwear, sportswear and womenswear. One signature split Maccapani dress in a distorted daisy print comes with inbuilt shorts. Hoodies feature zippered, extended batwing arms, corested inserts, or semi-detached collars that can be used as shawls, scarves or hoods. “The idea is a nine-to-nine wardrobe that goes beyond anachronistic categories like evening wear or sportswear: the pieces are all adaptable to wear when and as you wish,” says Missoni. Some pieces are lined in upcycled mesh or lace.

Another important aspect, she adds, is the relationship between the feminocentric philosophy of the brand and womenswear’s traditionally 20th-century relationship to the male gaze. “I remember when I was around 13 and my mother started saying I had to dress a certain way, to cover myself up, and it was because men were paying attention. For me though it is ridiculous that we still see the female nipple as taboo but not the male… Maccapani is liberating in a way that is functional and that works with life now.”

She recounts that her colleagues at M Missoni encouraged her to establish the new brand, and some have joined her in the business, which currently has a central team of four. Maccapani has also taken outside investment from Milan-based fashion professionals, whose identities she declines to disclose. “What I can say is that I am receiving some really excellent mentorship,” she says.

Missoni gave this interview the day after the anniversary of her grandfather Ottavio’s passing. She says: “I continue to be inspired by how he and my grandmother designed to anticipate social evolution and change. There were some articles about him that came out yesterday, and one quoted him as saying during the 1980s that in the future he thought everyone would wear tracksuits. He also said that while he respected mens tailoring, he wished that there was more freedom and less uniformity in the way society conditioned us to dress. Maccapani is based on a similar instinct, but acted upon in a different time.”

Members of the family agreed to sell a 41.2 per cent stake in the Missoni brand to Italian private equity firm FSI in 2018. In 2020, the brand appointed Livio Proli, former managing director of Giorgio Armani Group, as CEO, who vowed to make Missoni “more relevant and cool”. Angela Missoni stepped down as artistic director after 24 years in 2021, and was replaced by Givenchy and Burberry alum Filippo Grazioli in 2022. Rosita Missoni, 92, remains involved in the company as president and artistic director of Missoni Home.

The family supports Margherita’s own-brand ambitions, she says. “My mother and grandma are very happy about what I’m doing.”

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