By  on April 11, 2005

MILAN — Pirelli is banking on a new, five-year license with apparel firm IN.CO.M SpA to rev up its PZero brand.

The Italian tire and cable manufacturer, which has built a following with its hip, urban sportswear launched in January 2002, terminated its license with outerwear and sportswear firm Allegri. IN.CO.M, best known for its outerwear and technical jackets, will start producing and distributing the spring-summer 2006 PZero collection.

Pirelli said it split with Allegri because the company wanted to play a more “operative role” in the business. Underscoring the importance of Allegri in building the brand, Antonio Gallo, head of the PZero project, said he did not rule out future collaborations with the company.

PZero, which makes products for the Italian military, also distributes Tommy Hilfiger in Italy and manufactures under private label. The moves come as PZero adds other categories and looks to open its first brand store in Milan. It has a growing product stable under license, including watches and footwear. Handbags are slated to bow in the fall.

PZero last year reported sales of $104 million, or 80 million euros at current exchange, a 30 percent increase compared with the previous year. The company anticipates 20 percent growth in 2005. The brand is distributed in 1,280 points of sale around the world. Eighty are in the U.S., including Bergdorf Goodman.

Under creative director Gigi Vezzola, the brand is heavily influenced by sports, sailing and skiing. For the fall-winter season, PZero has launched a silicon jean that has five-pocket denim pants that are padded and covered with a thin layer of silicon for waterproof quality.

Other new looks are padded and include shearling sweatshirts, “ergonomic pants” with as many as 10 hidden pockets that are a blend of motorbike and ski pants, a down jacket crafted to look like a Pirelli tire track and colorful T-shirts and sweatshirts sporting the company’s founding year of 1872. Several items have functional pockets for digital accessories such as MP3 players and PDAs, and buttonholes for earphones.

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