Guido Campello Intimate Portrait
“Innovation is one of the key words that drives Cosabella and expresses to the core of who and what we are as a brand. Without innovation there is no fashion or vice versa.” Guido Campello, Cosabella.
by Pat Sonti, Vice President / COO of Couture & Prêt Ltd
Early December in New York City was unseasonably warmer this year. In SOHO, at Cosabella’s flagship store, I had the great opportunity to meet its dynamic CEO, Guido Campello. He took the time out of his busy and hectic pre-Holiday schedule to have a very insightful conversation as well share his fond memories, thoughts, views and outlook.
Q&A with Guido Campello
Cosabella knows where we have been as a brand and has now come full circle. We consider ourselves as a fashion brand, “accessorizing” brand, but, then became a utility or a commodity brand with focus on basic and foundation. We have been able to transition across a variety of categories because of the types of fabrics, fabrication used and we were made in Italy with flexibility to do five pieces to ten thousand pieces. We didn’t have to be tied into minimums and production lines. We have managed to realize the core of the company is based on distinct ideas with focus on the future.
What Cosabella accomplishes is to surprise and excite the customer. What Cosabella brings to the floor is the excitement and the surprise and we have worked few seasons ahead thanks to our ties to Europe from a styling perspective with focus on cutting-edge while not getting too far ahead of ourselves.
For example, integration of lingerie with Ready-to-Wear and with bodysuits, focused on neon colors, thongs, soft bras to name a few. We have also done lot of cross-distribution channels; boutiques, online, specialty stores with a good sense of the market and its needs with continuous refining of our plans. We had to match what the stores were asking for, but, also what the customers were wanting and looking for while inspiring them with surprise and excitement.
Cosabella brings that little twinkle in the eye. Our goal was to lead in lingerie and also fashion with colors, styles and selection thereby making a fashion statement. We, as a brand, want to sustain and keep that focus as part of the future and be focused and honed-in on who we are while bringing in “Made in Italy” high quality look and feel which is core to our brand. We are now setup to go back and into the future. Now that we are in our 33rd year, we are fully into our 2nd generation of leadership and building on our heritage, legacy and moving forward positively into the future with what is true to Cosabella while bringing surprise and excitement.
How can you best describe Cosabella’s focus on creative inspiration, design and innovation?
Innovation is one of the key words that drives Cosabella and expresses to the core of who and what we are as a brand. Without innovation there is no fashion or vice versa. It is both fashion and innovation that carries a brand forward while still being very relevant and understood.
How do you view the “convergence” of Intimate Apparel and Ready-To-Wear?
Cosabella has had very good experience in partnering with other top international brands such as Paul & Joe etc. and with tie-in to other leading global fashion, lifestyle brands and accessories. We understood we needed that and worked on “licensing deals” and partnering arrangements. This enabled us to get into top luxury and high-end retail stores. This also enabled us to get on the New York runway, brought us to higher price points, upselling, cross-selling, greater branding flow, and opportunity to show what “Made in Italy” and Cosabella can do for the customer. Right collaborations are an important part of our merchandizing plan and are an integral part of our DNA. Cosabella is a partner and collaborator with fashion or brand influencers.
Cosabella created the elements of what lingerie would be if it were “Made in Italy” and tied-in with leading fashion brands and a lot of those elements are still in our collections today. We were able to bring-in fun, fashion, contemporary stories, newsworthy and sell-worthy items to the lingerie department at top retail stores. We, at Cosabella, are fashion designers as well as purveyors of bringing different ideas to the customer while making it a fun, fresh and youthful experience. Cosabella is now a “glocal” (global but local) brand and focusing on integrating with other leading fashion brands from all over the world (i.e. Europe, Asia, etc.).
What is your business strategy for designing in the U.S. and production in Italy?
Cosabella’s view is that we are American innovation, but, Italian art and workmanship. We want to highlight the detailing, the color technology, the skill, the intensity, the artisanship and the ability to quickly rise to the occasion in developing very innovative and technological developments to support the dynamic marketplace while delivering finite quantities, but, very high quality, special fashion products and accessories. “Art is about application…how is it going to make the person feel, how is it going to impact society or culture, how is it going to show the next evolution, how is it going to excite and surprise people…Art allows us to be personal.”
“Intimate apparel is about close-knit family, integrity, branding and innovation; all of which requires lots of strength, thought and mindfulness”
How do you see yourself as a brand leader and moving forward into the future?
As part of Cosabella’s next generation of leadership, my sister Silvia and I are very balanced the way my parents are. She is the quantitative-side like my father and I am the qualitative-side like my mother. My responsibility is to challenge; the financial factors, the status quo, the look of the product, the way the company is organized, myself, and whether I am doing things progressively. My pursuit in life is to challenge myself and others to always strive and do their best. I want to make sure that Cosabella, as a brand, is always focused on “innovate, excite, and surprise”.
I want to always ask what we did in the past, what we are doing now and how are we going to do it in the future. How do we keep aligning and changing. Nothing in business is forever. Fashion is about working on multiple seasons, sometimes six seasons at once; key is to challenge oneself continually. On a personal level, my own priority and goal is my family comes first and foremost…which my parents taught me. It is also about what Cosabella is…our core is always heritage, legacy, integrity, artisanship and innovation as a brand with a sound balance of business priorities while always focusing on the customer first and foremost. We are committed to Cosabella being a “family-legacy company” as opposed to being a purely “product-commodity” business only. Fashion is a story and extension of who we are at our core and is transcendental.
What is your message to talented fashion entrepreneurs and emerging fashion designers in Intimate Apparel?
My message would be to come and join us and be part of our community. Join us because it is a tight family, is a tight category, and with many brands. Like many industries, everybody knows each other. If you have a passion for it, do it. The challenge is for a person to find their own path and their own uniqueness…it is something to take on boldly and not be afraid of. Intimate apparel is about close-knit family, integrity, branding and innovation; all of which requires lots of strength, thought and mindfulness. One will learn a lot about emotion, making others feel strong, secure and happy.
You realize how much your products can truly change people for the better from deep within…which does not happen everywhere. You also learn how to solve simple everyday problems such as support, fit, comfort and other tangible issues which can directly impact how a person feels about themselves. You have the potential to have a profound and deep effect on human emotion and spirit…and if you can carry it into products…carry into a story…successful economically and in business; it is a challenge which is very rewarding. No matter what you do, do not forget your initial vision, passion and impact that you wanted to give to others, what you thought was missing, listening to customers need and the essence of who you really are.
Guido Campello, CEO, Cosabella
Shanon Kogler, Global Communications, Cosabella
In-store photos of Guido Campello, taken with prior permission, by Pat V. Sonti. All other photos formally provided by Cosabella.
Cosabella, meaning “beautiful thing”, was founded in 1983 by the Italian husband and wife team of Ugo and Valeria Campello. Now a second generation family business, with Silvia and Guido Campello leading Cosabella’s creative direction. Cosabella gained its initial recognition with the design of bodysuits in the mid-eighties. Over 30 years later the brand now comprises diverse product mix of intimates, swimwear, shapewear and loungewear sold worldwide. Cosabella blends American innovation and Italian artisanship with design headquarters in Miami and production headquarters in Italy. Cosabella believes a woman’s lingerie should reflect her every mood. Each season vibrant, cutting-edge colors are produced; reflecting the high energy, eclectic world. The Cosabella’s mantra “Freedom of Color” is applied to each luxury collection, reaching a cult-like status for women around the world.