By  on November 15, 2007

MILAN — Baci & Abbracci Collezioni, a trendy Italian sportswear brand that built its reputation on a stylized apple logo splattered on sweatshirts and T-shirts, is raising brand awareness with its first flagship here.

The opening was marked this month with a party for TV starlets and soccer players, among others.

Three key figures, soccer players Christian "Bobo" Vieri and Cristian Brocchi, and model Alena Seredova, played important roles in the development of the brand.

"We wanted a space to establish a direct contact with our customers and strengthen the brand's image in the city where it was established [in 2004]," said chief executive officer Simone Martinelli.

Located in the heart of Milan's fashion district and steps from the Duomo cathedral, the 1,076-square-foot unit melds minimalism and futurism for a spaceship effect.

Save for a boomerang-shaped ceiling lamp that changes color, the store is stark white and dominated by glossy white polyester fiber walls, niches and container shelves. Polished steel is shaped into a rack.

"We wanted something that was different from all the other stores, that was unique and innovative," Martinelli said, declining to disclose the investment and first-year sales projections.

Aimed at consumers aged 20 to 35, Baci & Abbracci — Italian for kisses and hugs — is known for its versatile collections based on fashionable activewear tenets, preppy knitwear, basics, slim-fit denim and soft underwear.

Fall's top choices include knitwear in all forms, from hooded V-necks to turtlenecks with crystal applications, ruched numbers to sparkling fleece tops and ink-blue jeans with patent leather trim to lace-bordered satin slips.

Martinelli said he is working on a beachwear and watch license to launch next spring. The brand has sold 1.2 million garments over the past two years and reported sales of $73 million for the year, with a 25 percent increase projected for next year.

Retail prices range from $30 for a baseball cap to $261 for a pair of jeans and $725 for a metallic napa bomber jacket.

The offerings also include a toddler to junior clothing line, bicolored canvas bags and luggage and sunglasses."Our goal is to keep elevating the quality and style of our collections and to expand the range," Martinelli said.

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