Giorgio Armani S.p.A. is one of the world’s leading fashion houses. Few designers are credited with changing fashion to the same extent as its namesake, Giorgio Armani, who is the firm’s sole shareholder, managing director, and chairman of the board. The group is unique in remaining aloof from waves of consolidation in the luxury goods industry. Armani has invested instead in extending control over manufacturing and distribution of its products.
Under his leadership, Giorgio Armani SpA’s mission is to continually create clothes and accessories that aspire to a kind of perfection that transcends fashion. Armani’s clothing ignores the constant demand for novelty and possesses an elevated character, a quality that conveys a sense of permanence in a world infatuated with the temporary. Now, Giorgio Armani is poised for the future with a vision that crystallizes his approach to fashion as timeless, and yet always timely. Giorgio Armani is committed to the long-term view, reflected by his creation of new lines and divisions, and in his investment in new technology and infrastructures.
Armani formed his own company, Giorgio Armani S.p.A., on July 24, 1975, at the suggestion of his his friend Sergio Galeotti. The first products were ready-to-wear clothes for men and women. The company was successful from the beginning- first year sales were $1 million. In 1978, a licensing agreement with GFT (Gruppo Finanziario Tessile) allowed Armani to invest in a new headquarters building. The building, a 17th-century palazzo at 21 Via Borgonuovo, Milan, would house not only offices but a theater for fashion shows as well as Armani’s personal residence. Armani would be credited for inventing the Italian fashion industry, particularly in Milan.
The next year, 1979, saw the establishment of the Giorgio Armani Corporation in the United States. Giorgio Armani would be counted among the world’s leading fashion houses by the end of the decade.
Part of the success was due to Armani’s bold design gambles, which developed a more casual chic by such touches as removing padding from the traditional men’s suit jacket. Women’s clothes were made more comfortable and less showy. Other designers and knock-off artists would copy the look, but the original retained a dedicated following.
The collection in the ’80ties had already been expanded to include several new lines, such as Mani, Armani Junior, and underwear and swimsuits. Armani and Emporio Armani brands of jeans were launched in the early 1980s, a decade known for its designer jeans. Emporio Armani was a lower-priced version of the flagship line.
The early 1980s also saw an extension of the Giorgio Armani name to fragrances, licensed by L’Oréal. Eyewear was licensed to Luxottica S.p.A. in 1988.
The first Armani Exchange (A/X) store opened in New York in 1991. The Armani Exchange line is the affordable luxury brand of the House. Armani later pursued the strategy of maintaining a very small number of these lower-priced outlets to maintain the brand’s allure.
Alitalia hired Armani to design new outfits for its flight attendants and the interiors of its MD-11 airliners in the early 1990s. The firm also designed the uniforms for Italy’s 1994 World Cup soccer team, and those for Britain’s Newcastle United team in 1999.
The first Collezioni Giorgio Armani stores opened in Milan, London, and Tokyo in 1997. The same year, the first Armani Jeans store opened in Rome and Armani watches were introduced.
The Armani Group continued to roll out new categories of products. An accessories division was created in 1999.
During 2000, the company launched a joint venture with the Zegna Group, called Trimil, to produce and distribute the Armani Collezioni line of men’s clothing. Giorgio Armani Cosmetics debuted. Armani Casa, a home fashion store, opened after years of planning.
The billionaire designer honored himself in 2000 by opening a three-level, $73 million megastore in Milan called Armani/Via Manzoni 31. “I just wanted to give a present to myself on my twenty-fifth anniversary,” he said at the opening. The store carried not just clothes, but flowers, books, food (sushi), and home furnishings.
In 2001, Giorgio Armani announced plans for a joint venture with Vestimenta S.p.A., one of its earliest licensees, to produce and distribute its top line of men’s and women’s clothes.
In January 2007 Armani became the first designer to broadcast a haute couture fashion show live on the Internet. The Armani Prive spring/summer 2007 fashion show was broadcast via Microsoft Corporation’s MSN and Cingular cellular phones.
Giorgio Armani has a keen interest in sport; he is the president of Olimpia Milano basketball team, an Inter Milan fan and has twice designed suits for the England national football team. He has been responsible for the suits worn by England’s Chelsea FC since August 2007. He designed the ceremonial Italian flag-bearers’ outfits at the 2006 Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony in Turin.
The Armani Group is still one of the leading fashion and luxury goods groups in the world today with 5,000 direct employees and 13 factories. It designs, manufactures, distributes and retails fashion and lifestyle products including apparel, accessories, eyewear, watches, jewellery, home interiors, fragrances and cosmetics under a range of brand names: Giorgio Armani Prive, Giorgio Armani, Armani Collezioni, Emporio Armani, AJ | Armani Jeans, A/X Armani Exchange, Armani Junior and Armani Casa.
With approximately 500 stores worldwide, the Group’s exclusive retail network currently comprises: 81 Giorgio Armani boutiques, 171 Emporio Armani stores, 17 Armani Collezioni stores, 165 A/X Armani Exchange stores, 16 AJ | Armani Jeans stores, 6 Armani Junior stores 33 Armani Casa stores in 46 countries.
The Armani Group online shops have been operated since their launch by the Italian online retailer YOOX.