By  on May 2, 2007

MILAN — After building up its retail presence in the U.S., Tocca is readying to expand in continental Europe.

For the first time, the contemporary fashion and beauty label on Thursday will show its collection to the Italian press at the Vispa Teresa showroom here, a budding agency that represents several contemporary and denim brands.

For Tocca chairman and creative director Edoardo Mantelli, the Milan presentation is a homecoming of sorts.

The Italian-born executive started Tocca in the U.S. and first brought it to Asia and the U.K. Although his route may have been circuitous, Mantelli believes Italy is now ready for Tocca's feminine sensibility and competitive price points.

"Italians are crazy for clothing," Mantelli said during an interview from his office in New York. "I could never wrap my brain around it, but in Italy there are more stores than bakeries. There's always a lot of potential for a brand in Italy."

Tocca currently counts some 60 doors throughout Italy and Mantelli said he hopes to grow that number to around 100 in the next year. "Contemporary isn't a category that exists in Italy, but that can actually be a good thing because boutiques sell it next to designer lines," Mantelli said. "It offers a different price point and allows retailers to build up a different slice of the market."

For the moment, Italy is Mantelli's focus. Once the brand is well positioned here, he plans to build it up in other European countries such as Spain, Germany and France. Tocca has about 30 total sales points in those countries and Mantelli wants to expand the network to around 200 doors total over the next few seasons.

"I think it's better to concentrate on one market well, back it up with the proper press and make the brand strong there before moving on to the next market," Mantelli said.

Back in the U.S., Mantelli said he is in talks for a flagship location in Manhattan. He declined to say where, but said his goal is to open a Tocca store there by the end of next year.

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