Five years ago, the Giorgio Armani group refashioned its product range and has since then given a notable boost to the European expansion of A|X Armani Exchange. The group’s young, urban mixed-gender label is celebrating its 30th anniversary by announcing three major new openings in Germany, the Netherlands and Italy, and by staging a plethora of initiatives to boost its visibility with the young generations, including unique projects like the partnership with web radio NTS and the large-scale public casting staged on Friday to hire staff for its first Milanese flagship.
The Italian fashion group’s more affordable line was launched in 1991 by opening a store in New York’s SoHo district, and in 2017 it repositioned itself on the market. Originally destined for the fast-fashion segment and distributed in America and Asia only, A|X Armani Exchange then began to expand more widely in Europe. It is currently available worldwide at 1,704 multibrand retailers and 347 mono-brand stores and concessions, as the group told FashionNetwork.com.
In Europe, it established a foothold in recent years chiefly in shopping malls and department stores. In France for example, it is only found in three locations – one at Le Printemps in Lille, the other two within shopping malls on the outskirts of Paris, at Rosny-sous-Bois and La Défense – and has no high-street stores. Except for a handful of addresses opened in smaller Italian provincial towns, A|X Armani Exchange opened a store in Antwerp in 2018, and one two weeks ago in Cologne, Germany.
In 2022 however, A|X Armani Exchange will open in Amsterdam and, as indicated, in Milan. The address of this major Italian opening was not disclosed by Armani, which simply said the inauguration is planned for February. To hire the new store’s commercial staff, the label launched an unusual social media and poster campaign in November, with images lensed by Alex Nawrocki, featuring a mosaic of portraits of young people of all ethnicities with the slogan ‘I Need You.’
The campaign’s main theme is inclusivity, and A|X Armani Exchange aimed to appeal to a huge number of youngsters, choosing among them those whose attitude was “spontaneous, fresh, ironic, serious and cheeky, [one] in which everyone can identify,” as the label stated in a press release. To apply, one had to simply fill in an online form or, even better, take part in the public casting organised by the label last Friday, at the Armani Teatro via Bergognone in Milan.
In the same vein, A|X Armani Exchange has gone on another major charm offensive targeting younger consumers. To fête its 30th anniversary, it dropped a capsule collection and also teamed up with NTS, an independent London-based web radio, inviting local musicians and DJs to create their own unique playlist celebrating the 1990s, dance music and electro-pop, which is now being played at the label’s stores the world over.
These initiatives are part of the market repositioning strategy carried out by A|X Armani Exchange, which is now labelled as “young and affordable” and no longer as “fast fashion.” In order to make the repositioning a success, in 2014 the group regained full control of the line, which was previously managed in joint-venture with partners that looked after its production and distribution under licence.
This has enabled the Armani group to overhaul A|X Armani Exchange’s distribution and, above all, to transform its product range. Originally featuring mostly t-shirts, jeans and polos, in the last few years, the line has included more categories, notably boosting the denim range and adding more sportswear, streetwear and casual clothes. It has also extended its accessories range to include watches, eyewear, handbags, footwear and belts. A|X Armani Exchange has even added sustainable, eco-designed products to the line. The collection currently available in-store for the Fall/Winter 2021-22 consists of 90 women’s looks and as many men’s ones. T-shirts are priced €50, sweaters between €110 and €130, and trousers between €120 and €135.
And what about brand image? In a press release detailing the recruitment drive for its new Milanese flagship, the group outlined the new approach for its most affordable line: “An inclusive, metropolitan mood lies at the heart of all the brand’s activities, expressing a clear message: A|X is a space and state of mind that allows anyone to be themselves.” In other words, a directional brand in sync with the aspirations of today’s young generations.