By  on February 28, 2006

MILAN — Tom Ford might have a penchant for posing nude, but he wants his men dressed well.

The American designer and his business partner, Domenico De Sole, confirmed Tuesday that the Tom Ford company has signed a licensing agreement with the Ermenegildo Zegna Group for the production and distribution of a Tom Ford men's collection. The deal was first revealed in WWD Monday.

Ford's eponymous luxury line, which will include ready-to-wear, made-to-measure items, accessories and footwear, will hit retail this fall when the designer opens his first directly owned flagship at 845 Madison Avenue in Manhattan. For the first season, the collection will be sold exclusively in the New York flagship.

The three-floor, 9,600-square- foot space, set to open in Novem­ber, will be the brick-and-mortar culmination of Ford's year-long return to fashion after launching his own company with De Sole last April. Following the Manhattan unit, wholly owned stores are set to open in Milan, London, Tokyo and Los Angeles over the next three to four years.

Ford told WWD that he's been scouting a few locations in the golden triangle area of Milan. He hasn't signed off on anything yet, but the designer said it was likely his second store would open in the Italian fashion capital.

All parties declined to give a sales projection for the collection, but an industry source said the men's line is expected to generate revenues of more than $100 million in the first three to five years.

"I feel the brand will come into its own when the [New York] store opens," Ford said in an interview from his offices in Los Angeles on Monday. "At that point, a customer can come and say, 'Oh, I get it. I get what he's about.'"

De Sole agreed. "I really believe that a store defines the brand in the mind of a customer," he said in a phone interview from his home in Aspen, Colo.

There's plenty of square footage to fill in the Manhattan unit, but don't expect women's wear to be part of the merchandising mix. Both Ford and De Sole reiterated Monday that they have no plans for a women's collection. Yet when pressed, the former creative director of Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent wouldn't rule out an eventual foray into women's.

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