Goodbye Coltorti, Welcome Residenza 725: Behind the Italian Retailer’s Rebranding

MILAN — Coltorti no more — the storied Italian multibrand retailer is changing gears after 90 years in business, adopting the moniker of Residenza 725 from April 10, when the rebranding will be officially revealed at its four physical doors in Italy and on its e-commerce site.

The move signals “more than a mere restyling, but rather a shift in the company’s mindset and business model,” said Riccardo Bilancioni, chief executive officer of Coltorti’s parent company Ikonic Srl.

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Under the new name, the company intends to embrace a more curatorial approach, shifting its role from simply a displayer and seller of products to an enabler of cultural conversations that engage its community and further expands it.

Stemming from the notion that culture and fashion today are even more about participation than possession, Residenza 725 aims to become an open cultural hub for the cross-pollination of different disciplines — from architecture and design to food and art — by staging panels and special events with resident artists as hosts or producing editorial content spotlighting different talents to offer multiple creative points of view.

Bilancioni said the rebranding was two years in the making, with plans developed even before South Korean Group NHN Commerce acquired a majority stake in the family business last year. As reported, NHN Commerce, a global distributor and licensee of brands in the fashion and beauty sector in South Korea, never disclosed the size of the stake but at the time of the deal said it subscribed to a 10 million euro capital increase in Ikonic. Maurizio Coltorti, who represents the third generation of the founding family and who has led the international expansion of the business, retained “a significant minority stake.”

“I don’t have the need to have my surname written somewhere,” Coltorti said at the time, teasing how the goal of the new brand image was to raise the international standing of the retailer, which was established in 1934 in Jesi, in Italy’s Marche region.

“The premise is that we don’t have any aversion for the family name,” Bilancioni explained. “But the role of a multibrand retailer is to be on the market in the freshest and most contemporary way as possible. So any personal reference or nod to an individual would be a distortion of our way of operating. Family names are more appropriate for the high end of the supply chain and for brands making products rather than for those containers showcasing them and enhancing them with a mix and match approach.”

The CEO highlighted how the time was ripe for switching to a name that could telegraph additional values and that Residenza 725 was adopted to evoke a “cozy and reassuring space for our community, a warm place as a home where to [dialogue] and grow together.”

A Residenza 725 store.
A Residenza 725 store.

“Today the community is the real asset….I’m interested in fine-tuning the interaction with it and expand it,” the CEO said. He pointed out that the mission is to enrich the conversation around everything related to beauty, moving beyond fashion trends as conversation drivers in favor of a more extemporaneous approach.

“I think there’s a need to interpret the moment we’re experiencing [in retail] in an original way, not only with a muscular action, so amplifying with money what we’ve done so far or thinking ‘more money, more store openings’,” said Bilancioni, hinting at the iffy outlook for many retailers and e-commerce giants, like Farfetch and Matches. “We believe the crisis the industry is living is a crisis of ideas, first and foremost. For us having good ideas might represent the right answer, even if it questions all we’ve done up to this moment.”

“To have a beautiful architecture and location is not enough. Today is all about how relevant you are for your community of reference…and to be relevant, you have to dominate the contents of conversation and the interaction,” the CEO continued. “Luxury today is less about the product and all about the message. The product is everywhere and that’s the reason why e-commerce is suffering now: There’s an overstock and [platforms are] becoming the space of discounts, which is something brands can’t appreciate, as they curate everything up the last mile.”

A campaign by Residenza 725.
A campaign by Residenza 725.

In addition to being used throughout the retailer’s online presence and existing stores in the Italian cities of Ancona, Pescara, San Benedetto del Tronto and Macerata, the rebranding will include itinerant residences and series of cultural events in the likes of Berlin, Copenhagen, Venice and Palermo, Italy.

Before expanding its reach, the retailer will kick off the cultural calendar on April 10 with a partnership with Miart, the International Modern and Contemporary Art Fair in Milan, that will see the introduction of an award called Residenza 725 for the best presentation within its Portal section.

Three days later, the international edition of the “Forgotten Architecture” book produced in collaboration with Residenza 725 will be launched. The tome retraces architect Bianca Felicori’s five years of research into forgotten masterpieces of modern architecture.

Other Residenza 725 content and collaborations to follow will range from private dinners with lesser-known chefs to philanthropic initiatives, from artistic window installations to online editorials, among others.

Riccardo Bilancioni, ceo of Coltorti.
Riccardo Bilancioni

“Our main focus is to keep our level of originality and the diversity of our contribution as a multibrand retailer high,” said Bilancioni, pointing out that this attitude would give Residenza 725 an advantage in partnering with brands. “I don’t want to compete [with others] only in terms of scale. Also because brands proved to have left big players rapidly in favor of other strategies. If we can be interesting for our audience, we will be interesting to brands, as well,” he said, stressing that he aims at an organic growth.

Incidentally, at the time of the NHN Commerce deal, the company outlined the ambitious target to reach 200 million euros in sales by 2027. Although plans have not been tweaked, Bilancioni said his focus now is “not merely countable but qualitative. I know I will reach that 200-million-euro milestone if I will reach the community in the right way.”

The rest of the strategy hasn’t changed either. In addition to enhancing the digitalization and the in-house production of content — which will be powered by NHN Commerce’s expertise in tech — the retailer will increasingly work on upping its tone of voice and communication, as well as expanding its brick-and-mortar footprint abroad by prioritizing high-end resort destinations. To this end, Bilancioni confirmed the company will plant its first international flag in Andermatt, Switzerland, this year, when it will also unveil other two units. These are being scouted in destinations the CEO declined to disclose.

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