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Khrisjoy Planning First Official Presentation in Milan in February

MILAN — Khrisjoy will hold a presentation during Milan Fashion Week next month, a first for the Italian brand that signals a new course.

In December, Alsara Investment Group took full control of Khrisjoy, five months after naming Shahzad Akhtar chief executive officer, a new position at the company.

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Akhtar’s experience in brand building pointed to the owner’s interest in further developing Khrisjoy, clearly a focus for Alsara as the CEO met with WWD at the brand’s Milan showroom, filled with the fun and artistic artworks that are also reproduced on its signature cool puffers.

Milan is also an important reference, said Akhtar, as the base for a veritable fashion hub for Alsara. “It was natural for us to choose Milan. Why go anywhere else as this is a key fashion and financial capital, home to power brands, and it nurtures innovation and creativity, blending history, culture and heritage, energizing talents and brands,” Akhtar said.

Alsara is working on incubating a new men’s and women’s ready-to-wear brand to be launched soon in the city. “Alsara offers an exciting opportunity to build the next generation of luxury brands on the pillars of talent, great products and innovation,” he remarked.

Another sign of the owner’s aim to build a solid team in Milan was the decision to appoint Andrea Fornasier group PR and communications director earlier this month — a new position based in the Italian city. “As a brand, we were quiet, but now we are at a critical size to get some of the best talent and can invest in product and marketing,” Akhtar said.

A Khrisjoy look for fall 2024
A Khrisjoy look for fall 2024

Alsara is an international private investment company based in Switzerland. In 2021 it bought a majority stake in Italian brand Khrisjoy with a view to expanding its global reach, product offer and digital capabilities. Its portfolio also includes Akoni, which produces eyewear for its namesake brand and is a licensee of Valentino and Balmain; investor Bidayat; design venture Fromm, which has been staging presentations in Milan during Design Week and Salone del Mobile; Egypt-based jewelry brand Azza Fahmy and handbags label Okhtein, and Flyroom. As reported, it is also gearing up to revive the Walter Albini brand, one of the founders of Italy’s ready-to-wear.

Alsara was founded by chairman Rachid Mohamed Rachid, who is also the chairman of Valentino and CEO of the brand’s parent company Mayhoola, which also owns Balmain and Italian menswear brand Pal Zileri. Earlier in his career, he served as Egypt’s minister of trade, industry and investment, and was an executive at Unilever.

“This is a dream project for Alsara,” said Akhtar, who brings to the group his expertise in marketing and global strategy and his track record of delivering growth in global commercial organizations such as Unilever and Whirlpool. “Rachid has a passion for this category and for Milan and we want to be an integral part of the community.”

The Khrisjoy pop-up at Eli’ Den in Seoul.
The Khrisjoy pop-up at Eli’ Den in Seoul.

Positioned in the luxury range of the market and made in Italy, Khrisjoy has garnered a cult following with its Khris cocooning hooded puffer jacket. Akhtar said Marzia Bellotti, who established the brand in 2017 with Maurizio Purificato, is staying on as creative director. Purificato exited the company last December.

The brand is available at around 200 luxury boutiques worldwide. The main markets are Italy, Europe and South Korea. E-commerce is performing very well, doubling volumes, said Akhtar, and North America is the best performer, representing now 40 percent of global sales.

Distribution is entirely wholesale but stores are in the pipeline in the future. At the moment, pop-ups — in addition to word of mouth — are key in the strategy. Recent pop-ups were set up at Eli’Den Seoul at Lotte World, and in Japan at Hankyu Umeda in Osaka and Matsuzakaya Nagoya.

Women’s represents 80 percent of the total.

“There are a lot of technical brands at a much lower price point, but we are specialists while also a fashion brand, we have established our archives and we are resilient in the outerwear category,” Akhtar said.

After the pandemic, “it was shown that people are more interested in spending time and money in experiences, outdoors activities and traveling and we have a great opportunity to capitalize on the gorpcore trend in the high range of the market with a consistent message.”

Khrisjoy is also looking at leveraging the Milan Cortina Winter Olympic Games in 2026.

Asked about the relaunch of the Walter Albini, brand, Akhtar said he could not comment on timing and whether former Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele was really on his way there, as sources speculated last year.

Shahzad Akhtar
Shahzad Akhtar

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