MILAN — “Vintage is hotter” is the statement that stands out in all caps on the bold packaging of Aged, the spin-off from jewelry brand Lil Milan set to debut this week.
After proving her entrepreneurial skills with Lil Milan, who within a few years captured the attention of millennial customers with her affordable, simple designs and affordable prices, founder Veronica Varetta decided to venture into the market. secondary to launch a brand aimed at giving new life to vintage gold coins.
“Even though Lil Milan isn’t antique but is fresh and modern, I’ve never looked at contemporary brands,” Varetta said. To further prove her point, Varetta said that whenever she meets a person, rings are the first piece of jewelry that catches her eye and the ones she finds most interesting “always turn out to have belonged to mothers. or grandmothers. That’s how I understood that I had a certain fascination for vintage.
In addition to a personal inclination, the new venture should be commercially strategic for many reasons. First, with the skyrocketing price of gold already presenting challenges for the Lil Milan brand, the launch of a label that builds on existing designs represents a diverse new way to approach the booming jewelry market. , which since the pandemic has found new momentum thanks to customers. rediscovery of gold as a safe haven.
The philosophy behind Aged is also very much in line with the sustainability quotient that consumers are increasingly looking for in a brand. “I thought about launching a cheaper line for a target of 13 to 18 years old, or a silver line but the conclusion was always the same: I was always thinking of producing new pieces, therefore with a consumerist approach”, said said Varetta, emphasizing that “only the secondary market is truly sustainable.”
“So I’d rather have lower margins but give existing jewelry a second chance than create new pieces,” she added.
Varetta also noted a gap in Europe when it comes to vintage jewelry retailers who can also boast a presence in the digital space. She originally intended to operate as an online middleman for local jewelry stores, to help them reach new audiences and in the commission-based digital sales process. But when she started pitching the idea to local traders, she was met with strong resistance.
“They are very committed to their selections and their existing clientele, so the reaction was that they didn’t need me or the online tools… That’s when I decided to do it myself,” she said, pointing to the creation of the project last year.
Varetta turned to local auctions to identify the pieces and build up an initial inventory, supported by an experienced consultant in the field with whom it identifies the selections and commissions the purchases.
“At the moment we are focusing on auctions in Italy, but the aim is to move to European ones soon, in order to have a wider offer in terms of design and eras,” said Varetta. , who mentioned the auctions in France, Germany. and Poland as future targets.
The selection of pieces is dictated by Varetta’s instincts, using criteria that include original designs, the use of color – “which is not really present in Lil Milan’s offer” – and unique manufacturing details, with the founder drawn to techniques that “are almost rare because they would cost too much to make these days.
Currently made up of 30 exclusive pieces in 18-karat gold adorned with diamonds or colored gemstones, the assortment mainly includes rings – mainly in geometric shapes – as well as earrings, a few necklaces and bracelets, such as a diamond bracelet and rubies.
“They’re all very different from each other, but there’s a harmony once you see them together,” Varetta said.
Before arriving on the brand’s online shelves, each piece is checked, revamped or repaired by the company’s goldsmiths. The range of styles corresponds to a wide range of prices ranging from 700 euros to 5,000 euros, which allows the brand to reach a wider audience.
“To be honest, I’d like to lower the price of admission in the future, maybe with the inclusion of some pendants,” Varetta said, noting that, in line with Lil Milan’s mission, the goal is to allow women to buy jewelry as an act of self-giving. “It’s designed as something you buy for yourself, which is why there are no classic solitaire rings in the selection but more design-oriented styles.”
In line with the spirit of Âgée, Varetta plans to set up a service allowing customers to redesign jewelry they already own with the help of the company and its goldsmiths.
In the meantime, Aged will officially launch on Thursday, when the vintage range becomes available for purchase on Lil Milan’s online store and the Lil House showroom-store in Milan hosts a celebratory event. While a dedicated corner on-site will showcase the pieces for customers to try them on, Varetta is already planning to launch a separate e-commerce site for the brand.
Namely, even if sharing the same mission and temporarily the same distribution, Aged and Lil Milan remain two distinct entities in the eyes of the founder, who is not afraid that one cannibalizes the clientele of the other.
Launched in 2017 and made in factories in Italy’s golden quarters of Valenza and Vicenza, the Lil Milan line includes gold chains, dainty earrings, small hoops and extra-thin 9 or 18-karat gold rings. prices ranging from €60 to €550. The offer quickly attracted a clientele of women aged 20 to 25 finishing their studies and wishing to treat themselves to golden gifts, as well as clients aged 35 to 50 looking for everyday and simpler alternatives to their luxury items.
To further reinforce their distinct identities, Lil Milan’s signature pink-hued visuals will contrast with bolder, more irreverent communication featuring heavy fonts and blending Aged’s lilac and acid green tones.
“She’s Lil’s older sister: she’s more determined and unabashed, like she’s got 10 more years of experience,” Varetta said, confirming that even in the long run, she doesn’t envision any cross-pollination between both labels.
Meanwhile, product-wise, Varetta is gearing up for the second drop of Lil Milan’s Precious line — a higher-priced collection with diamonds first launching in 2020 — and playing more and more with custom engagement rings. Commercially, the UK expansion is at the top of its agenda, as it aims to establish a second headquarters and soon open another Lil House flagship in London.