Max Mara’s founder Achille Maramotti trained as a lawyer, but his family was already established in the Italian fashion system. His great-grandmother Marina Rinaldi headed an important tailoring atelier in Reggio Emilia and his mother Giulia Fontanesi ran a dressmaking school. Giulia and her collaborators helped Maramotti to design the ladies’ coats that made up his first prêt-a-porter collection in 1951. By 1955, the business had moved to a large factory and began using the name “Max Mara Industria Italiana Confezione.”
The first Max Mara store opened in Reggio Emilia and until the end of the 1960s, sold only to Italian business partners. Maramotti aimed to make high fashion available to a large market with the aid of industrial production yet still prioritized tailored cuts and fine materials. Following a trip to New York’s garment district in about 1957, he invested in the latest manufacturing methods to minimize labor and cost. The company added dressy and casual suits, inspired by Dior, Givenchy, and Balenciaga, to their seasonal offering of jackets and coats. In the mid-1960s, Lison Bonfils was hired as a consultant for junior fashion and in 1969 Max Mara released the new Sportmax line, which targeted younger consumers.
The style 101801, a cashmere and camel hair coat, launched in 1981 and has been a feature of every winter season since. Without names and roles being revealed to customers, the hiring of notable designers has refreshed the brand’s creative output across its various lines. Designers have included Emmanuelle Khanh (1967), Karl Lagerfeld (1971), Guy Paulin (1970–1971; 1973–1974), Luciano Soprani (1973–1976), Jean-Charles de Castelbajac (1976–1978), Anne-Marie Beretta (1977–ca.2007), Odile Lançon (1978–1981), and recently Proenza Schouler.
In 1990, Maramotti handed the company over to his three children. Since then Max Mara has expanded globally, opening a shop in Tokyo and a flagship store in New York in 1993, and the first South American store in Caracas in 1994. Max Mara started a cosmetics line in 1997. Today the Max Mara Fashion Group operates out of over 2,300 stores worldwide. The group runs its long-established Max Mara and Sportmax collections in addition to Weekend Max Mara, a lifestyle line launched in 1984, Marina Rinaldi, a plus-size collection launched in the 1990s, the diffusion lines Max & Co., iBlues, Marella, Pennyblack, Persona, and Marella. Achille Marimotti passed away in 2005. His son Luigi Maramotti serves as Max Mara’s chairman.
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