By  on June 5, 2007

Brunello Cucinelli opened a boutique at 39 Newtown Lane in East Hampton, N.Y., late last month, demonstrating that in a village tight for commercial space and filled with big brands, sometimes there's room for a smaller player.

Within the shop's 750 square feet of selling space, "We are featuring pretty much our total look for men and ladies, and the home collection," said Massimo Caronna, president of Brunello Cucinelli USA. "Cashmere is how we started and that remains an important part of our collection."

East Hampton is the brand's 16th freestanding shop and only its second in the U.S., following the opening of a Bleecker Street store in Manhattan in February 2006. The company is pursuing a strategy of opening resort stores, with units planned for Sylt, Germany, and Milano Marittima, Italy, this summer, and big city units as well, with store openings in Sydney, London and Tokyo set for later this year.

There are already resort stores in Italy and France, in Portocervo, Capri, Saint-Tropez, Palma de Mallorca, Cannes, Ibiza, Forte Village Mita in Cagliari, Portofino and Ischia, as well as stores in cities including Paris, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Milan, Buenos Aires and Osaka, Japan.

In addition, the brand is sold at such stores as Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman, Holt Renfrew, Wilkes Bashford, Mitchells and Mario's, among others. About 83 percent of the volume is derived from wholesale sales, while freestanding stores generate 17 percent.

Within the 30-year-old Italian luxury collection, cashmere represents roughly 50 percent of the offering, with sportswear and outerwear in the past three years growing to represent the remaining 50 percent. Cashmere items start at $650 at retail and range up to $1,500 depending on the ply. In outerwear, a short microfiber jacket retails for $795, while a three-quarter-length leather coat lined in cashmere is priced at $1,700.

Caronna expects the shop to generate $1.5 million to $2 million in first-year sales.

Brunello Cucinelli was established in 1978 in the medieval village of Solomeo, Italy. The Brunello Cucinelli Group, with a volume of just over 90 million euros, or $120.6 million at current exchange, last year, includes Rivamonti and Gunex, which has a few styles displayed in the East Hampton store. The unit was formerly occupied by Springer's.Judy Springer, the proprietor of the former shop, is managing the new boutique. "The community loves to come in and see her," Caronna said. It's an effort to help retain some of the last vestiges of the village's small town character. However, things continue to change. Elie Tahari will anchor the corner of Newtown Lane and Main Street in East Hampton, with a 5,000-square-foot shop scheduled to open in mid-August. Also, a John Varvatos shop opened during Memorial Day weekend at 54 Newtown Lane. Coach, Tiffany, Scoop, Starbucks, Chase and Ralph Lauren also operate in the village.

"I don't think East Hampton has become another Madison Avenue yet," Caronna said. "Babette [the restaurant] remains, and there's still a hardware store." He also noted that Dreesen's donuts are still available, but they've been relocated to Scoop du Jour ice cream parlor, and are no longer inside Dreesen's, which is emphasizing its catering business.

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