Corneliani Spa - Fashion Designer Encyclopedia

Italian menswear firm

Founded: in Mantova, Italy, 1930s. Company History: Modernized, 1958, by Carlalberto (born 1931) and Claudio Corneliani (born 1921), Sergio Corneliani (born 1959) became chief designer; lines include Via Ardigo, Styled by Corneliani, Corneliani, Corneliani Trend, and Corneliani Sportswear; trademarks include Nino Danieli, Browngreen, and Full Time; producers and manufacturers, beginning in 1984, for Daniel Hechter, Erreuno, Karl Lagerfeld, Krizia Uomo, Trussardi, and Renoma; costume designers for various films, including Little Women ; Carlalberto Corneliani, president of Italy's fashion committee Comitato Moda, 1976 and president of Federtessile, Italian textile association, 1991; opened Milan flagship store, 1997; acquired Polo Ralph Lauren license for North America, 1998; expanded Polo distribution into Europe, 2000; signed license with Chinese company for manufacture and distribution of Corneliani-branded products in Asia, 2000; launched casual Trend line into U.S. market, 2001. Awards: Pitti Immagine prize, 1989; Carlalberto Corneliani named Cavaliere del Lavoro, 1991. Company Address: Via M. Panizza 5, 46100 Mantova, Italy.




Alfonsi, M., Figli d'Arte? No Grazie, Trento, 1989.


Lobrano, Alexander, "Still Growing Corneliani," in DNR: The Magazine (New York), 4 January 1988.

"Dietro la Griffe," in Vogue (Milan), February 1991.

"I Corneliani Dell'Abital Agli States," in L'Arena (Verona), 24February 1991.

"Vestiremo All'Americana," in Il Mondo (Milan), 29 April 1991.

"Corneliani," in La Repubblica (Rome), 12 June 1991.

"Corneliani—Hartmarx il Patto Atlantico," in Harper's Bazaar (Milan), 8 July 1991.

Gabbianio, M., "La Quinta di Corneliani," in La Repubblica, 6 March 1992.

"I Segreti di Corneliani," in L'Arena (Verona), 13 March 1992.

Perego, G., "Corneliani, 172 Miliardi di Vestiti," in Italia Oggi (Milan), 3 April 1992.

Forden, Sarah Gay, "The Cornelianis of Mantova: A Family, a Company, a Label," in DNR, 4 January 1993.

Bagnoli, D., "Fratelli Corneliani, Nuova Organizzazione in Germania," in Textil-Wirtschaft, 3 March 1994.

Conti, Samantha, "Corneliani Opens First Boutique in Milan," in DNR, 21 April 1997.

Gellers, Stan, "Viva Italia! Corneliani Gets Polo Blue Label Clothing License," in DNR, 4 May 1998.

——, "Corneliani Set to Launch Its Polo Ralph Lauren Clothing," in DNR, 25 November 1998.

Boye, Brian, "Technical Fabrics are the Talk of Cologne…," in DNR, 2 August 1999.

Gellers, Stan, and Samantha Conti, "Corneliani: A Family Affair," in DNR, 12 June 2000.

Deeny, Godfrey, "Milan: Seriously Elegant Corneliani," available online at Fashion Wire Daily, , 26 June 2001.


Corneliani: a designer label, a company, a family. An important blend which embodies the secret of the Corneliani success. The Corneliani company is run by the Corneliani family: quite different from the traditional stylist, and probably far superior, on today's scene.

Now that stylists work on an industrial level and the consumer is no longer prepared to accept something just because it carries a designer label, the winning card appears to be the entrepreneur stylist, capable of guaranteeing taste and creativity but first and foremost the quality of the product. This trend seems custom made for the Cornelianis, since this has always been our philosophy, the thinking that has made our company what it is today. Corporation styling, indicated by everyone as the true future of Italian fashion, has been practiced successfully for years at Corneliani by the Cornelianis.

Corneliani style interprets the Italian culture of fine clothing. Corneliani quality is the technological version of the great Italian tailoring tradition.



Corneliani is a high-quality menswear design company based in Mantova, Italy. Seeking out the perfect balance between fashion content and classic style, the family company, now in its third generation, had its start in the tailoring business in the 1930s. By the late 1950s, the group had established itself as producers of fine men's clothing, a tradition it upholds today.

Corneliani constitutes a company, a family, and a designer label, a blend that seals their success. The group does not promote itself as an individual designer-led label but as "corporate styling." Opposed to the idea that the consumer only purchases clothes because they carry a designer label, Corneliani believes a group-led label guarantees not only creativity, taste, and style but also quality in the cut and manufacture of the product.

Elegance defines the look; styles tend to denote the relaxed, classic taste of Hollywood stars like Cary Grant or George Sanders. The customer is style-conscious, not necessarily fashion-conscious, and his clothes need to be dependable, functional, and highly durable yet also have a feeling of comfort and quality. Corneliani is also aware its customer can have moments of extravagance: a man can suddenly be taken with a striking detail, like an unusual color mix or an interesting fabric.

Corneliani develops most of its own fabrics from the initial selection of fibers, design, and color to the final approval of ideas from among hundreds of samples. Natural fibers predominate: linens, cottons, pure woolen tweeds and herringbones, wool crêpes, and wool venetians. Colors are simply and classically combined. Super-fine, madras checked jackets in navy, beige, and cream are teamed with a sky blue checked shirt, navy trousers, and distinctive navy, beige, and cream striped tie. Beige on beige is a recurrent effect—a crêpe beige suit with matching waistcoat is teamed with a brown checked tie and checked shirt. It's a tweedy English elegance, combined with slick Italian styling.

The company produces four main seasonal collections, all of which adhere to the style principle of relaxed classicism. The flagship collection is named Corneliani. Elegant and restrained, it is defined by the company as the point at which fashion and style meet. Corneliani Trend is a more fashion-oriented collection, designed for a customer who wants to follow fashion but retain a sense of good taste and intelligence. The Corneliani Sportswear collection is refined sportswear combining both comfort and function. Via Ardigo, Styled by Corneliani is a more upbeat, fashion-conscious sportswear line, easy to wear but adhering to the company's trademark respect for quality and elegance.

Corneliani produces a wide range of men's apparel, from jackets and trousers to car coats and overcoats. They rarely work to a design theme or make fashion trend statements; instead they produce an array of seasonal coordinates, within their four main seasonal collections, from which the customer can choose to put together his own look according to his own personal taste. The company's one aim and philosophy is to meet the clothing needs of contemporary, professional men who lead high-gear lives demanding a wardrobe to allow them comfort and freedom.

During the late 1990s and early 2000s, Corneliani focused on increasing its presence in territories outside Europe, particularly in the United States. It also has strived to broaden its customer base by adding more casual apparel to its traditional sartorial offerings. Two developments led Corneliani to launch its younger, more affordable Trend line and to move into sportswear. First, the rise of casual Fridays in both Europe and North America meant increased demand for casual and sporty clothing, an area where Corneliani had historically not been active. Second, a growing number of younger men—a market not actively targeted in the past by the company, whose primary customer was 45 to 60 years old in the U.S. and 10 years younger in Europe—desired fashionable suits priced below the top end of the market. Although Corneliani had been able, in the mid-to late 1990s, to expand in the U.S. by taking advantage of the popularity of Italian-made suits there, it recognized the need to expand further by targeting a wider range of customers.

The Trend brand, which was a success in Europe before being launched in the U.S. in 2001, consists of suits, sport coats, dress and sports shirts, neckwear, casual slacks, active sportswear, and outer-wear. Executives reported to the Daily News Record (12 June 2000) that the line's canvas construction and technologically enhanced performance fabrics were expected to translate well into the U.S. market, whereas the lighter, sportier designs were a good fit with casual trends around the world.

As of 2000, Daily News Record reported the company sold its wares to stores in 45 countries. Its business in the U.S. had grown to encompass more than 10 upscale retail customers, including Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom. Corneliani's market share in Italy remained strong and its presence was on the rise in countries such as Belgium and the Netherlands. Corneliani was also making inroads into Asia, signing a license with a Chinese company in 2000 to market its branded clothing throughout the region.

In addition to allowing Corneliani to enhance its revenues, the launch of Trend, as well as sportswear and men's furnishings, enabled the company to market its products as a collection rather than simply as a line of tailored suits (which accounted for two-thirds of the company's worldwide business in 2000). With the collection, Corneliani has been able to focus on expanding its retail presence, opening a flagship in Milan in 1997 and planning additional outlets in Paris, London, and New York.

Although casual and sporty styles are driving much of the company's growth, Corneliani is not ignoring the tailored suits on which it built its reputation. It introduced a new suit model in the late 1990s, Spencer, which had a more modern silhouette than the company's other suits but retained Corneliani's traditional concern with performance and luxurious fabrics. In addition to expanding its own brand, Corneliani has been focused on its licensed Ralph Lauren label. Corneliani acquired the rights for the U.S. market in 1998, at a time when many U.S. designers were looking to Italy for their men's licensees, and expanded into Europe in 2000. Corneliani produces and distributes Polo Ralph Lauren's blue-label products.

Although the Polo and Corneliani lines have distinct sensibilities and styles, the acquisition of the Polo license helped the Corneliani brand boost its status in the U.S. quickly, after more than a dozen years in the market with a relatively low profile. The company took advantage of this awareness to launch a print advertising campaign in the U.S. featuring trendsetting celebrities from politics, business and entertainment, and has continued to solidify its recognition among American consumers and retailers.


updated by KarenRaugust

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