The family-owned Italian company is moving beyond leather handbags and into accessories such as eyewear, footwear, jewelry, watches, scarves and small leather goods in a bid to transform itself into a lifestyle brand that appeals to a wider audience.
Furla has also been revamping its stores worldwide, with architectural elements inspired by the firm’s headquarters in an 18th-century villa in Bologna, and materials including rosewood and Italian travertine marble for an overall lighter and more modern feel.
“We are not just a handbag shop,” Eraldo Poletto, Furla’s chief executive officer, said in an interview here as the brand was marking the reopening of the store at 221 Regent Street, one of its most important flagships.
“We’ve grown a lot over the past three years, and we now need to make the leap to compete in a market that is more dynamic than ever.”
The Regent Street store, which spans 1,938 square feet over two floors, is across the street from a Michael Michael Kors accessories shop and a few minutes’ walk from a new Longchamp unit, which are among the brand’s competitors.
Regent Street isn’t the first Furla unit to undergo a facelift, but it’s a major one in terms of tourist traffic. Some 45 stores worldwide have been transformed since August 2011, and there are more to come: 25 stores are set to be refurbished in 2014.
The brand is paying particular attention to the cities where Furla makes its money, which are those frequented by global travelers and shoppers. The company refers to the cities as a “Silk Road” that starts in Tokyo, and moves through places including Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong, Dubai, Moscow, Rome, Florence, London and New York.
A new store in Florence opened earlier this month, while Furla plans to open a Manhattan flagship on Fifth Avenue in May. As reported, the company inked a joint-venture deal with Hong Kong-based Fung Group to open more than 100 Furla stores in Greater China. The brand has 24 stores in that market.
Japan is currently Furla’s largest market, accounting for 27 percent of the company’s revenue. The brand has 69 stores in the country and the company is looking to leverage its presence in Japan as it expands to other Asian markets.
Europe, the Middle East and Africa account for half of the business, while Asia Pacific represents 14 percent and the U.S. 9 percent.
In 2012, sales hit 212 million euros, or $274 million, a 38 percent rise over 2010, and Poletto said the company is expecting to see “high double-digit growth” going forward.
Furla is privately owned by the founding Furlanetto family, and Poletto said it is self-funded, there is no debt, and EBITDA, or earnings before interest taxes, depreciation and amortization, are robust.
“We’re positioned well — we’re not competing with the likes of luxury companies such as Prada, Louis Vuitton and Gucci, but we are fighting against them for prime real estate space — and, in this case, size matters,” he said.
Furla does about 80 percent of its business through its own retail shops, including franchises, while the rest comes from wholesale. It has more than 300 travel retail doors open worldwide, and Poletto said the plan is to expand that channel, too.
There are other plans afoot in addition to retail expansion: In February, Furla will launch a Chinese-language e-commerce site (it already has dedicated sites for Europe and Japan) and may look to introduce a fragrance.
The brand already has an eyewear license with the Italian manufacturer De Rigo SpA, and Poletto said the company is open to forging similar partnerships with companies such as De Rigo that have a specific expertise.
Ready-to-wear is not on the agenda. Poletto said the focus will remain on accessories, and on showcasing them in cultural and artistic venues such as Tokyo’s National Museum, where the brand launched its spring collection in November. The spring campaign was shot by Marton Perlaki and Philippe Lacombe.
He added that more projects like Furla Candy, a collection of color-drenched handbags made from PVC and leather, are in the cards. “That was a cross-generational product, and it revitalized the brand,” Poletto said. “We have to continue to have the courage not to play it safe.”
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews
“Stranger Things” is getting a new cast member for season 2. Meet @sadiesink_, the 15-year-old who will be joining the Netflix series for its new season. You may recognize her from “The Glass Castle” with Brie Larson and Woody Harrelson, but the Texas native’s next role goes in an entirely different direction. She describes her character, Max, as “a rough and tumble skater girl [who] becomes friends with the boys at school.” The second season debuts on October 27. (📷: @jgreenery) #wwdeye
Amid the Harvey Weinstein controversy, there’s another sector that’s being put under the spotlight for sexual abuse: the modeling industry. While rumors about abuse and sexual harassment of female and male models — and the photographers, agents and others who perpetrated it — have circulated within the fashion world for years, model @cameronrussell started posting stories from models on Instagram last week about abusive situations they’ve encountered — from sexual harassment and molestation to attempted rape. Over 75 have weighed in so far. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdnews
To celebrate its 16th anniversary, @dylanscandybar tapped designers and celebrities to create mosaics out of candy. The mosaics will be auctioned off to support the philanthropic cause of each participant’s choice. Pictured here is the mural created by @aliceandolivia's Stacey Bendet. For a first look at some of the other artwork being unveiled tonight, go to WWD.com. #wwdeye
The annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in Pacific Palisades this weekend drew Kate Hudson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laura Dern and more. See pictures of the star-studded event on WWD.com. (📷: @chelsealaurenla) #wwdeye
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye
"Nowadays when life is not so happy with everything going on in the world, I think people come to me for a little bit of whimsy and color and fun." - Designer Rebecca De Ravenel on her cult-favorite jewelry line. (📸 : @vsteves) #wwd40
“Everyone is talking about how the retail industry is struggling, but I think it’s an incredible time because brands who are doing something different and innovative are setting themselves up for the future,” said @adamgoldston, who founded the luxury athletic brand @apl with his brother @ryangoldsten. The Goldston’s are part of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables. See the rest of the list on WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
@eyeswoon blogger Athena Calderone debuted her first-ever cookbook, “Cook Beautiful,” which is heavily centered on the presentation and visual expression of food. Pictured here are her miso glazed carrots from the book. Get the recipe on WWD.com. (📷: @johnny_miller_) #wwdeye