Marina Rinaldi Srl - Fashion Designer Encyclopedia

Italian plus-size fashion company

Founded: by Achille Marmotti in Reggio Emilia, Italy, within the Max Mara Group, 1980 (named after his great-grandmother, Marina Rinaldi). Company History: Launched first collection of larger-sized fashions, 1980; Persona line introduced, 1985; Marina Sport launched, 1986; knitwear line, 1987; set up U.S. division and headquarters, 1993; opened flagship stores in New York and Beverly Hills, 1998; launched first U.S. magazine ads, 1998. Company Address: Via Mazzacurati 4, 42100 Reggio Emilia, Italy.




Alfonsi, Maria Vittoria, Leaders in Fashion, Bologna, 1983.

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Livingston, Jennifer, "Big Stores, Big Opportunities," in WWD, 6Sept 1995.

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"Counter Punch," in WWD, 9 March 1998.

Edelson, Sharon, "Marina Rinaldi Opens on Madison Avenue," in WWD, 28 October 1998.

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Marina Rinaldi originated as part of the Max Mara group, named for its founder's great-grandmother, who once had her own atelier in Reggio Emilia, Italy. The firm's purpose, however, was to answer the needs of the vast population of Italian women sized 46 and over. The group's other ranges, including Weekend and Penny Black, already catered for larger sizes, until it was recognized that there was a significant gap in the market for a separate label specializing in plus sizes.

The aim was and continues to be about producing a womenswear range with the same fashion content as other Max Mara lines. Marina Rinaldi has the same quality of cut, manufacture, fabric, and color as other fashion brands but is only available from size 16 upwards. Established as a separate company, there are now several labels under its umbrella including Marina Rinaldi, Marina Sport (launched to target a younger clientéle) and Persona. The label serves 400 points of sale worldwide, 100 of these are franchised, 80 being in Italy and 20 abroad (Paris, Tokyo, Brussels, and Amsterdam).

Marina Rinaldi has an ongoing Image Project aimed to establish a thorough understanding of its product, its customers, and the company's relationship to these customers. Larger women were identified as having very classic tastes, yet too afraid or too timid to try younger styles and modern silhouettes. For Rinaldi, sales personnel became recognized as an important link in establishing a trustworthy relationship with clients. The goal is make their customers feel good about themselves and to do so through fashionably forward, stylish clothing in a range of bigger sizes.

Designs are made to flatter heavier figures and the firm tries to incorporate as many fashion trends and styles as possible yet always with a range of classic items such as a sheepskin or suede jackets, cashmere overcoats, stretch jersey turtlenecks, brushed flannel suits, and jeans in many colors. An eveningwear look is always included with elegant smoking jackets and lounging suits, embroidered wraps and white evening shirts with assorted cufflinks. A summer beachwear collection incorporates essentials from the swimsuits to the terry cloth bathrobes and wraps.

Rinaldi also produces its own catalogue, MR Characters, designed to accompany the customer throughout the fashion seasons and intended as an introductory guide to a fashion lifestyle for women not entirely used to having a wide selection of outfits and separates. As well as advice on how to interpret High Street trends with the Marina Rinaldi look, it gives advice on cookery, personal problems, and travel.

It is often difficult to see much difference in Rinaldi's style from its sibling Max Mara collections, which is exactly the point. The quality of workmanship, styling, and fabrics are all there; the only real difference is in the sizing and the slightly rounder (but no less stunning) model used in the advertising. From a consumer point of view this is a measure of Marina Rinaldi's success. Figure-hugging basques and fitted strapless dresses are not included in the range, but then sexy, revealing dressing wasn't traditionally part of the Max Mara look either. Rinaldi represents a breakthrough in accessible fashion for all sizes, a business concept many other companies soon recognized.

By the 1990s, Rinaldi apparel was given much more space in high-end department stores like Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergford Goodman, Bloomingdale's, and Nordstrom due to the increased demand for retailing for larger women. With celebrity spokespersons like actor Camryn Mannheim and musician/television host Queen Latifah, plus sizes finally garnered respect from U.S. retailers and prominent fashion designers as well. Liz Claiborne, Givenchy, and Mondi were all offering plus-size collections, and Rinaldi was doing so well the firm opened two U.S. flagship stores in 1998. In New York, the first Rinaldi flagship was located just a block from sibling Max Mara's store on Madison Avenue. The second freestanding store, nestled snugly on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, opened as part of a two-unit powerhouse, with Max Mara next door. To promote its new stores, Rinaldi also launched its first U.S. magazine advertising campaign, using the slogan, "Style is not a size, it's an attitude."

Marina Rinaldi in the 21st century was a respected womenswear design firm, offering plus-size women a myriad of stylish, exceptional apparel from eveningwear to casual separates. With stores around the world, from its flagships in the U.S. to shops in Russia where there is virtually no competition—Marina Rinaldi has been a pioneer in giving larger women fashion options in a retail world where there were few available.

—Kevin Almond;

updated by Owen James

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