By  on December 14, 2011

MILAN — As a difficult economy and crimped consumer spending continue to plague the fashion business, companies focusing on research and innovation are helping to send positive signals to the industry.

A case in point is new Italian outerwear brand AI-Riders on the Storm, which, after a two-season test in the Italian market, will make its official and international debut at men’s trade show Pitti Uomo in January.

Founded by designer Giovanni Chicco, the line, manufactured and distributed by Italian company Comei & Co., consists of unisex, featherweight and high-tech down jackets with a patented ergonomic hood that can be completely closed for a cocoon effect. The hood also features giant, interchangeable lenses, which guarantee excellent peripheral vision.

“When Giovanni Chicco presented me his new project, which still didn’t have a name at that moment, I was impressed by its technical innovations. But as the first prototypes were taking shape, I realized that the jackets had a strong aesthetic and symbolic impact, too,” said Comei & Co. chief executive officer Maurizio Cittone. “Before presenting them to the buyers, we asked a number of our young collaborators to wear the samples on diverse occasions in order to get feedback. The success was incredible and after a few weeks we were approaching top Italian retailers.”

From the first styles conceived by the company, the fall 2013 collection marks important progress from a technical point of view. AI-Riders on the Storm is going to present seamless padded jackets realized through ultrasound fusion techniques, which will retail at 290 euros, or $378 at current exchange rates.

In addition, Chicco highlighted that the brand is “repositioning the original project to make it more appropriate to everyday life.” The color combinations of the jackets and the lenses will be more sober in order to satisfy the needs of the label’s target customer. “Our customers range from a 14-year-old, posh high school student to his 54-year-old math teacher,” said Chicco, whose goal is to double the brand’s business in 2012.

“We are aiming at reaching the Far East, in particular Japan and the European area, including Russia and the Balkans,” said the designer.

To celebrate the launch of the label, AI-Riders on the Storm also made two short films inspired by the world of superheroes, which are available on the brand’s Web site and Facebook page.

“From a global perspective, the Web definitely represents the more appropriate communication tool for both the type of product we sell and our target,” Chicco commented.

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