Led by its second generation, Frau, a brand of innovative, comfortable and stylish shoes for men and women “made in Italy,” has just launched a revamped website and online store. It has also started exploring foreign markets, following major investments in design and technology made under the management of Gabriella d'Arcano, who started taking over the reins of the company seven years ago from her father, Renzo d'Arcano, who founded it in 1952 and died four years ago at the age of 80.

Already well known in Italy it is addressing younger consumers than before. Supported by strong marketing aided by the social networks, it sells its shoes through 11 mono-brand stores established in the last four years and more than 1,200 multi-brand stores all over the country. Foreign markets represented only about 10 percent of its sales of €31 million last year, led by Spain and Greece, but the brand has been ordered recently by new clients in other countries including Austria, Turkey and the Balkans.

To help develop its export business, last year Frau hired a dedicated international sales manager, Danilo Aliti, and exhibited at the Micam trade show in February for the first time since its foundation. Aliti, who worked previously for several companies, most recently for the sale of Calvin Klein shoes in Italy, is looking in particular for agents in countries like Germany, Switzerland and France.

In tune with the rejuvenation of its line and its brand image, Frau was placed right in front of the new area reserved for up-and-coming new designers from all over the world. One of the highlights of its new collection was a group of shoes developed on an exclusive basis with W.L. Gore for the launch of its new Gore-Tex Infinium Thermium technology. Ecco is the only other brand that has been selected for the launch of the new membrane, which helps keep the foot warm, during the next autumn/winter season (see Shoe Intelligence - Vol. 19 n°23+24 of Dec. 23, 2017).

Located in the region of Verona, not far from Gore's Italian office, Frau operates two factories employing more than 200 workers to ensure good craftsmanship and quick deliveries of small quantities of shoes. Robots have been recently installed in all the main lines by Frau, which has been involved in other technological development projects in the past such as the quick generation of new molds.

Foreign clients can place a minimum order for just 60 pairs and get reorders rapidly when they need it. With a mark-up of 2.5 for the recommended retail price, they can make good profit margins and keep inventories low.