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RUMOR: Gianfranco Ferré to be saved by Dubai’s Paris Group

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Bankrupt Italian fashion house Gianfranco Ferré is now rumored to be getting a new savior, Dubai-based fashion retail company Paris Group, after the deal with Samsung Group fell through late last year. WWD claims to have spoken to a source close to the deal, who assured that “This is a real offer, they are very keen.”

Paris Group, who already operates two Gianfranco Ferré stores in the emirate – one in BurJuman and the other at the Dubai Mall – owns some 250 stores across the UAE and holds licenses to represent a number of key fashion brands in the country, including Versace, Cerruti, Pierre Cardin and Balmain.

The Milan-based house does indeed need saving, and if there’s one brand that we would like to see outlive us, it’s Gianfranco Ferré. The designer behind the label was regarded as the architect of fashion and we don’t want that legacy to vanish into thin air just because of some money issues. So it’s good news that Paris Group is “very keen”, as the Milan-based source says, on keeping that legacy alive.

But it is important to know that Paris Group is the company behind the all-year-round sales at Balmain, Pierre Cardin, Verri and Ted Lapidus, among many other stores they operate in the UAE. Yes, those 75% discount offers that really attract your attention during your first few days in Dubai, whether as a tourist or a new resident, and then make you wonder as time goes by if they would ever end, because, theoretically, no business can possibly offer tremendous markdowns throughout the entire year and live to tell the tale.

According to a report published by Gulf News in 2009, the company is a licensee of these brands, which means they “can produce the clothes themselves, be it hand-crafted in a workshop in Paris or mass produced in a factory in China,” the GN article said. “Industry insiders believe [they can offer enormous discounts] because they mass produce the apparel in factories cheaply, and the business model is one where they would never intend to sell the product at full price, attracting customers who believe they are saving money,” it added.

This 75% off deal that runs 365 days a year is said to have had a detrimental effect on said brands, making it difficult for consumers to associate them with the notion of luxury and exclusivity. Barbara Somogyiova, director of foreign sales at LIST, an Italian fashion brand franchised in the region by the Kamal Osman Jamjoon Group, said “she believes licensees offering discounts as heavily as 75 per cent on top end fashion labels is extremely damaging to the mother company,” in the Gulf News report.

So, again we ask, is it good news that Gianfranco Ferré is allegedly going to be saved by the company? No one knows for sure, but one can only hope that the brand’s prestige continues to live on.

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