By and  on February 24, 2009

MILAN — Versus is ready to rock again. The line, launched by Gianni Versace in 1989, is making a comeback with a relaunch package hatched by Versace Group chief executive officer Giancarlo Di Risio and Donatella Versace, the brand’s creative director. Despite the recession, Di Risio painted a bullish outlook for Versus, forecasting sales of 700 million euros, or $893 million at current exchange, by 2015 and plans to open 20 stores over the next two years. A runway show is also a future option. The ceo put Versus on the back burner four years ago to better concentrate on strengthening the signature line, narrowing the company’s debt load and streamlining operations. The Versus brand is now focused on accessories, eyewear licensed to Luxottica and fragrances licensed to Euroitalia. Versus apparel will return with the women’s spring 2010 collection and will be designed by Donatella Versace, although the company could be close to tapping a designer to work on the collection. A capsule collection of Versus accessories will be on display here on Sunday during Milan Fashion Week. “The signature line is now consolidated, global and strong so we felt the time was right to work on Versus, which won’t be a second line but a lower-priced, young luxury brand for a modern, stylish, sensual and futuristic woman,” said Di Risio, sitting in his office in the company’s Via Borgospesso headquarters, which will also house the Versus offices. Versus’ new course includes a license for apparel for men and women and accessories, inked with the Facchini family, who own the Gruppo Facchini apparel manufacturer. Based near Verona, the 38-year-old Gruppo Facchini, formerly called Swinger International, also owns Byblos. The Facchinis have established a separate company called VSV to better control Versus’ development, with Mathias Facchini as ceo. “We want to dedicate special energy to this project that targets a market segment that we feel offers important sales prospects,” said the executive. Di Risio said it is possible Versace might buy a stake in VSV in the future. The price list and distribution network for the brand are still being developed.

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