Il Bisonte, a Tuscan brand that speaks more and more Japanese

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The thread that unites Tuscany, the region in which the casual-chic artisanal leather goods brand Il Bisonte was born more than 50 years ago and where it still produces its bags today, and Japan, the historic outlet market and from 2020 home of 100% shareholder Look Holdings Inc, is becoming ever closer. Now even the top management of the Florentine company speaks Japanese. Hideo Shiomoto, former operating officer at Look Holdings Inc and board member of Bisonte, has just been appointed to replace CEO Luigi Ceccon, who has reached the end of his three-year mandate. He takes on the role of managing director. Masaaki Saito, chief financial officer and board member of Look Holdings Inc., a company listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange and historic distributor of the brand in Japan, remains as president of Bisonte. The operation is “aimed at consolidating the prestigious position in the international accessories scene”, says a note.

The objective indicated by the management is to expand the three distribution channels – retail, wholesale and e-commerce – in particular in two countries: Japan on the one hand (where there are already 50 single-brand stores) and the United States on the other. The operation will leverage the company’s historical values, such as vegetable tanning of leather; 100% made in Tuscany production, carried out in laboratories located within a 30 kilometer radius of the Pontassieve factory; and the “timeless” style of its products, made to last a long time.

«In addition to our consolidated success in Japan – explains Hideo Shiomoto – we are focusing in particular on the United States. We want to expand the wholesale channel in the American market, where the growth of the brand is supported by the increasingly important presence in the major department stores, and we are starting research for the opening of our second direct store in the United States, thus marking a further step in the expansion strategy”. The first stars and stripes boutique opened in 2019 in New York, in the West Village.

The operation evidently aims to redistribute sales, which are currently heavily concentrated in Japan which absorbs around 80%. In 2022 Bisonte’s industrial turnover was 32 million euros, with 1 million in net profit. The 2023 balance sheet is not yet public (the group is listed and will release the data in mid-February), but Shiomoto speaks of «significant growth in direct stores, especially in Italy where we are attracting both local consumers and tourists: a positive sign of the strong appeal of our brand.” Alongside the 50 stores in Japan and one in New York, Il Bisonte has boutiques in Florence, Milan, Rome and two in Paris. For 2024 the brand expects to confirm the revenue levels of the previous year “despite the period of strong international crisis and market turbulence”.

On the stylistic front, Il Bisonte is trying to make more glamorous bags to stimulate consumers, without abandoning its history of functionality and rigor, playing with new shapes and colors such as gianduia, black cherry and vanilla. The first results were seen at the recent Pitti Uomo, when the brand presented the new collection for autumn-winter 2024-2025 which focuses on minimal design and a timeless attitude.



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