By  on March 23, 2010

MILAN — Marc by Marc Jacobs has finally landed in Italy — and it’s brought food.

The company-owned Milan boutique is modeled after other Marc by Marc Jacobs stores around the world, but it’s the first that also contains a cafe.Robert Duffy, president of Marc Jacobs International, said he had “always wanted to experiment with a bar or a restaurant.” As the building previously lodged several stores and a bakery with a coffee bar, Duffy negotiated to include that portion of the edifice as well.

“This venue gave us the opportunity to become a destination in a retail environment and it was easier because it was already structured that way. It all came together,” said Duffy.

The 3,132-square-foot boutique spans an entire floor of a residential building and counts 12 adjacent bays. The windows look onto a 15th-century church in the cobblestoned piazza Santa Maria del Carmine, in the heart of Milan’s Brera district, known for its artistic streak, antique shops and open air restaurants.

The store was designed by the company’s go-to architect Stephan Jaklitsch, who came up with concrete floors, custom-designed steel shelving, sliding blue glass partitions, neon signage, blue skate tables and an exposed air-conditioning system. “Skate tables are indestructible, they can be customized in any color, and they are easy to merchandise,” said Duffy. “Our stores tend to get crowded and people can sit on these tables, they survive the wear and tear more than leather furniture, for example.” The store carries the brand’s full range: men’s and women’s wear, shoes, bags and small accessories, jewelry, eyewear, swimwear and a selection of books.

An event to fete the official opening of the store will take place during the city’s international design and furniture exhibition, the Salone del Mobile, on April 15.

The store’s selling space extends into the cafe, which has a white marble bar and blue leather and polished steel seats. There are also tables outside on the square. As the bar is open from 7:30 a.m. to 2 a.m., while the store hours are 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., the two areas are separated by blue, sliding glass doors.

Although Duffy noted the windows will constantly change, an Italian flag made with synthetic flowers was prominently displayed for the opening. “There is reason for the flag: I’m superstitious,” confided Duffy. Every time the company opens a new store, that country’s flag is propped in the windows. “We are an American brand but we also want to say that we are global and part of that country.”

In Milan, Marc by Marc Jacobs also is available at luxury department store La Rinascente and at the Biffi boutique. “We don’t want to hurt our [wholesale] partners and I can’t compete with big stores for traffic,” said Duffy. “There must be a reason to come to our store and, for this reason, we try to make it a special environment, a destination to be entertained.” Accordingly, Duffy said 70 percent of merchandise will be exclusive to the Milan store.

The executive declined to forecast revenues for the first year, but said he was confident the store would fare “very well,”and pointed to an uptick in salesin Europe since the beginning of the year. In particular, he underscored a positive performance in London and Paris.

The company recently has been investing in its Marc by Marc Jacobs retail network. Stores in Singapore, Stockholm, Macau, Mexico City and Bangkok are scheduled to open this year. Duffy said he is also looking at an additional location in Paris. In 2009, stores opened in London, Lisbon, Dubai, Bahrain, Jeddah, Mexico City, Taipei and Seoul. The executive said he was also seeking a space for a Marc Jacobs Collection unit in Milan.

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