Umberto Angeloni, Caruso

Umberto Angeloni

Brand Authenticity

Editors’ Note

Umberto Angeloni graduated from Rome University with a degree in Economics in 1977. He has an M.B.A. from the Ivy Business School in Ontario, Canada. In Chicago, he worked in the financial industry and then as a Visiting Professor of Microeconomics at Loyola University. Angeloni was CEO and co-Owner of Brioni from 1990 and transformed the company into the Brioni Group. From 1999 to 2005, Angeloni wrote and published several books in his “The Art of Living Well” Series. At the end of 2008, he acquired a significant stake in Raffaele Caruso S.p.A. In 2009, Angeloni launched UMAN, an innovative brand of luxury menswear. In 2013, he acquired additional stakes in the company, assumed the titles of President and CEO, and took the company private. In September 2013, Angeloni entered a partnership with Fosun Group, which acquired 35 percent of the company’s equity. Angeloni was the President of several institutions for the promotion of Made in Italy, including “Classico Italia” and “Ente Moda Italia”, and is a member of the “Comitato Leonardo” and former member of the “FondaAltagamma.”

Company Brief

Raffaele Caruso S.p.A. (carusomenswear.com)is an Italian manufacturer of men’s apparel. Its business is largely based on offering tailored suits through a network of multi-brand retailers, as well as its own mono-brand stores. The company is headquartered in Soragna, Italy.

Would you discuss the history and heritage of Caruso, and how the company has evolved?

Caruso was founded in 1958 as a custom shop by Raffaele Caruso, a Neapolitan tailor who had moved from Naples to Soragna, a small northern town near Parma. The reach of his clientele, the local wealthy farmers and landowners, soon extended to neighboring towns and, eventually, Caruso started to produce ready-to-wear suits for independent retailers in Milan. In 2008, the company, by then a factory employing 600 people, reached sales of €60 million and its products were sold through a network of 200 multi-brand boutiques.

As a result, Caruso has inherited the traditional technique of pure Neapolitan tailoring and blended it with the innovation of Milanese style within a modern manufacturing organization capable of delivering top-quality products with the best value in the market.


Caruso clothing

Would you highlight the Caruso product offerings and do you foresee extensions in the future?

In early 2009, having recognized the uniqueness of the Caruso suit and jacket, which were then the firm’s sole products, I decided to invest in it by initially purchasing 35 percent of the stock. The plan was to evolve it to become the number-one luxury menswear brand in the world, something I had already accomplished with Brioni, before leaving the company in 2007, after family feuds had compromised its stability.

Since then, I perfected Caruso’s business model, extending the line to include other staples of a gentleman’s wardrobe − shirts, ties, and outerwear − and started promoting the brand outside of Italy’s borders. I purchased the whole company and, in September 2013, I took on as partner (with 35 percent of the stock) China’s largest private investment group, Fosun International, with the aim to further develop the brand by launching Caruso mono-brand stores (DOS).

What differentiates Caruso from its competitors and how do you define what makes the brand special?

Caruso’s strength is the fact that it’s the preferred choice of good Italians. I am using this expression of Hemingway (from The Dangerous Summer) to identify the educated and fastidious Italian consumer, whose ability to understand quality, style, and value, honed through many generations, has become almost instinctive and nearly infallible. We summarize such concepts in our motto, “In menswear do as the Italians do.” This makes the brand truly authentic, something that is very much appreciated by today’s affluent and intelligent consumer worldwide, who aspires to achieve that same sensibility and skill.

Other Italian brands have instead opted to pursue the nouveau riche of the moment − whether from Arabia, China, or Russia − or to please the hottest movie, music, or sport celebrity, thus losing touch with the good Italians.

Is your market niche at the highest levels and who is your ideal customer?

Caruso is working to serve an elite clientele but not in the way normally defined by luxury brands: spending capacity or celebrity status, or power display. I am interested in an attitude that extends across demography and geography: self-respect and the drive to continuously evolve one’s culture and capacity. These values direct a gentleman intent on building a wardrobe to focus his attention on what’s authentic, important, and valuable, often disregarding what’s merely expensive, opulent, and trendy. Such a customer is curious, demanding, and loyal; therefore, he can also be a source of inspiration to the brand, surely its apostle and a guardian of its quality.


Caruso flagship store on New York’s East 58th Street

Caruso just opened a flagship store in New York City. Would you describe the store and your outlook for how it will help grow the brand?

The New York store is the first in the world, and as such it must set the concept of the brand. Hence it extensively represents the Caruso’s core product, the tailored suit, in all its breadth and depth, providing a vast and educational selection. While the whole store extends to over 4,500 feet, the “Suit Room” covers one third of the space, divided into the timeless classics, the smart innovations, the formal-wear corner, and the “blue blazer” corner. In each section, there will be suggestions as to how to accessorize the suit, from shirts to ties, from knits to belts, and even hats. The front part of the store will feature the more informal wardrobe, including outerwear and furs. It’s important to understand that the whole has been designed and furnished, and the collection has been merchandised to match the tastes of its ideal customer: the good Italian.

What are the key growth markets for Caruso and what are your plans for store expansion?

Caruso will initially expand its presence into those markets and cities that have a large base of local customers and an established appreciation for Italian quality and style: therefore in Italy, America, Japan, and Germany. Only subsequently will it expand into international travel and spending hubs such as London, Paris, or Dubai. The stores will be either owned or in partnership, but always operated by Caruso, in order to ensure a constant standard of selection and service.

You have been a leader in the industry and achieved great success. Do you take time to reflect and appreciate all that you have accomplished?

All the experience, the expertise, and the intuition that I have accumulated in my professional career, now covering over 30 years, have been deployed in this project, for the ultimate benefit of the consumer. Thus, my greatest reward is still to come and it will be measured by Caruso’s success.•