By and  on October 15, 2008

MILAN — The economic downturn isn’t stopping Italian fashion brands from expanding their global retail networks.

Marni and Dsquared are opening stores this month in markets outside Italy — specifically, Spain and Hong Kong, respectively.

The Marni stores in Madrid and Barcelona will deepen the bond between Spain and the fashion company’s designer, Consuelo Castiglioni, who has a house there on the isle of Formentera.

At the end of the month, she and her husband, Gianni Castiglioni, the brand’s chief executive officer, will shuttle to Barcelona to inaugurate a 3,456-square-foot flagship whose front facade was unaltered, allowing a clear view of the shop’s interiors from the street. The decor is inspired by the geometry of traditional Spanish floor tiles.

Offsetting the store’s angularity is Marni’s signature undulating stainless steel rails and trees that serve as displays for the collection.

Eyewear, accessories and costume jewelry are showcased in backlit fiberglass boxes, housed inside the walls, while different sized leather cases accommodate the fast-growing lingerie collection.

“We are increasingly trying to even out the apparel and the accessories on the selling floors,” said Gianni Castiglioni, a format applied to the Dubai unit, where apparel takes up 60 percent of floor space and accessories account for the balance.

He forecasts first-year sales of 2 million euros, or $2.7 million at current exchange, for Barcelona, and 1 million euros, or about $1.4 million, for the accessories-only store, which opened in Madrid earlier this month.

The latter is modeled on similar Marni units, with lacquered walls and fiberglass cases designed for shoes, bags, sunglasses and the ever-expanding costume jewelry line.

Marni has been on a retail roll in recent months, earlier this summer opening shop-in-shops in Okinawa, Japan, and in Hawaii’s Waikiki, with Hong Kong next on the agenda. Castiglioni noted that the enlarged store on New York’s Mercer Street, now double the size at 3,000 square feet, is performing well.

Meanwhile, Dsquared is opening its first retail outpost in Asia, in Hong Kong, in partnership with luxury retailer Joyce. As part of the agreement with Joyce, the latter will be in charge of distributing the Dsquared brand in the Far East.

The two-story, 1,620-square-foot boutique is located in Hong Kong’s central On Lan Street and is modeled after the brand’s first flagship, which opened in Milan in June 2007. The design duo behind the brand, twins Dean and Dan Caten, take inspiration from Canada, the country from which they hail, and pepper their stores with birch wood elements, cozy fireplaces and moose antlers. “A taste of home, where Canadian woods meet design,” they said.

The store carries the brand’s ready-to-wear collections, accessories, footwear and fragrances for women and men.

The Catens will mark the opening on Oct. 17 with an event organized by Joyce.

In September, the company opened a 1,300-square-foot, two-story boutique in Istanbul. There is also a store in Capri, which opened this summer, and in Kiev, Ukraine. Outposts in Singapore, Dubai, Moscow and Cannes are scheduled to follow.

In 2007, Dsquared registered sales of 102 million euros, or $139.7 million at average exchange, for the period. For this year, the company projects revenues of 120 million euros, or $164 million at current exchange.

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