By  on October 17, 2007

DALLAS — Known for deluxe skiwear, Willy Bogner GmbH & Co. would like to acquaint more Americans with its luxury sportswear collections as well.

The Munich-based firm is eyeing space for a signature store in New York and is considering extending its 138-page magalogue to the States. The magalogue is currently distributed eight times a year in Austria, Germany and Switzerland.

"The U.S. market could be a lot stronger in sportswear, and we are thinking of how to bring the product to a broader audience," said Willy Bogner Jr., chairman, managing director and principal of the company, which was established 75 years ago by his parents. "At this time we have no stores here, but we are discussing opening one in New York City in the SoHo area."

He's considering a 4,300-square-foot space that would do double duty as a showroom for the firm's ski and sportswear collections for women and men.

The company also wants more stores in Russia, its fastest growing market, where Bogner wants to add franchised units in St. Petersburg, Kiev and Sochi, which just won its bid to host the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Noting he's "very careful" about selecting store sites, Bogner is also scouting for locations in Basel and Lucerne, Switzerland.

"We are very happy with where we are going, especially with Eastern Europe, Russia and China coming on strong," Bogner affirmed.

Bogner's global revenue is up 12 percent this year and is expected to rise 10 percent in 2008. Total wholesale sales in 2006 were 154 million euros, or $250 million, including $100 million in skiwear and $30 million from a dozen licenses, such as sunglasses, shoes, jeans and ski equipment. Bogner sells in 35 countries and has 49 stores, including 11 company owned, 29 franchises and nine outlets.

Bogner and his Brazilian wife and design director, Sonia, talked about their ambitions last month while visiting Stanley Korshak here, which opened the firm's first U.S. shop-in-shop a year ago.

The couple are living icons of the brand — he, a champion skier, prize-winning director of ski films and cameraman for the snowy chase scenes in four James Bond movies, and she, a model and designer who describes herself as a "jeans and jacket girl."Korshak entertained them Texas-style with a margarita and Mexican food party for 120 people. It was apt for Willy Bogner, who collects Lucchese cowboy boots and wears them all the time and everywhere — even to formal events.

Korshak's 350-square-foot Bogner boutique stocks a few ski jackets, but focuses on the two sportswear labels. Bogner Woman caters to conservative wealth with classic styles in Italian fabrics. Sonia Bogner has the same quality but more fashion touches, including metallic fabrics, bright colors and details, like an embroidered shearling coat with mink cuffs. Prices are the low end of designer, with jackets retailing from $700 to $1,100.

"Our style and quality comes across very well for a quality-conscious consumer, and it's not too flashy," Sonia Bogner noted. "It's always a little grounded."

The boutique's sales should reach $500,000 a year by next spring, said Rose Clark, general merchandise manager.

"The two things I love about it are the quality is so fine you can't question it, and the price is below some of our upper price points," noted Clark. "They have beautiful details. And the pants fit an American woman's body. It's the best-fitting pant I have in the store."

Dallas often swelters at 90 degrees in the fall, and the Bogners said they plan to add lighter-weight fabrics at Korshak's request. Still, many of the retailer's clients have other homes in colder climes, like Colorado, and travel frequently.

The big opportunity is in crossover sales, he said. The company pushes skiwear as streetwear by showing the same coat worn on the slope and in the city on facing pages of its magalogue. "It's important to showcase the brand as a lifestyle, and that we speak both languages," Bogner noted.

In a year of fashion anniversary blowouts, Bogner is putting an alpine spin on its 75th birthday party Nov. 5, where all the models will swoosh down an artificial ski slope in Munich's central square, Max-Joseph-Platz. The show will highlight company innovation — Bogner made the first stretch ski pant in 1955 — and its longtime role outfitting the German Olympic and racing teams. It will also look to the future with solar-heated skiwear."It will be in front of the Opera with the Olympic team, and we'll have real snow brought in from the mountains," Bogner explained. The show will be open to the public, and he expects a crowd of 3,000.

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