By  on September 23, 2010

MILAN — A flurry of new boutiques is opening this fall in the Golden Triangle luxury shopping district here, a sign that fashion companies are backing their retail strategies again.

A new flagship store, comprising both the Alberta Ferretti and Philosophy di Alberta Ferretti brands, opened in Via Montenapoleone earlier this month and will be inaugurated with a cocktail event today.

“We hope that by placing together the two brands, which are complementary, we offer a more exciting and stimulating shopping experience in terms of image and message,” Massimo Ferretti, executive chairman of Aeffe SpA, told WWD. Aeffe produces and distributes collections for Ferretti, Moschino, Pollini, Jean Paul Gaultier and Cacharel.

Ferretti said retail sales, which account for 8 percent of the group’s total revenues, are currently “decisively positive,” growing at a double-digit rate. The company is investing in new retail projects, such as reevaluating and relaunching its 11 stores in Japan, where Aeffe has taken distribution in-house.

Located in a neoclassical 18th-century palazzo, the 1,857-square-foot Milan unit is an evolution of Ferretti’s Los Angeles boutique and is designed by London-based Sybarite architects Simon Mitchell, Torquil McIntosh and Filippo Ferraris. After a restoration that didn’t alter the building’s facade or the walls inside, the store’s spaces are separated by arched entryways, with walls painted warm gray and white marble floors. Other elements include magnetic, site-specific displays, steel panels that support magnetic mannequins and a large, slightly tilted table with LED screens.

Down the road in Via Spiga, a GF Ferré store was restructured to carry Ferré Milano, the company’s diffusion line, in order to be more in line with the area’s target customer, said a company spokesman.

Last weekend, Jimmy Choo opened its largest flagship in Europe, covering 2,505 square feet on two levels, located at the intersection of Via Sant’Andrea and Via Montenapoleone. With more than double the space, the store replaces a previous Milanese location opened in the fall of 2003.

The store, which carries shoes, handbags, small leather goods and soft accessories evokes the architectural glamour of a Forties boutique in a color palette ranging from ivory and pale rose to lilac and sand, with mirrored podiums, intimate salons, mother-of-pearl finishes, satin boiserie wall paneling and crystal drop chandeliers. There is also a shop-in-shop dedicated to the Choo 24:7 collection. The store also features the brand’s first VIP room in Europe.

“Our opening in Milan at the corner of Via Sant’Andrea and Montenapoleone is a significant milestone for our brand,” said chief executive officer Joshua Schulman.

The new flagship opening is only the first of a series, with banners in Zurich and Frankfurt set for later in 2010. The brand will further strengthen its presence in Milan with a directly operated shop opening at La Rinascente department store in early 2011.

Meanwhile, La Rinascente earlier this month unveiled its new sixth floor in its flagship in Piazza Duomo, covering 21,600 square feet and dedicated to the home. The remodeling cost 3 million euros, or $3.8 million at current exchange rate. The home division accounts for 22 percent of sales, offering brands from Villeroy & Boch and Christofle to Versace Home. Together with its design items on the underground level, La Rinascente offers the largest assortment of home products in the city, said fashion director Tiziana Cardini. By 2012, the store, which has been renovated over the past five years under a new ownership and the management of chief executive officer Vittorio Radice, will also renew its men’s and women’s apparel floors. On Sept. 18, during Micam, the city’s international footwear exhibition, La Rinascente unveiled a new shoe area, with brands such as Gucci, Hogan, Tod’s, Sergio Rossi and Gianvito Rossi.

Managing director Alberto Baldan said the Duomo store registered a 10 percent increase in sales in the first eight months of the year. Last year, the store posted sales of 220 million euros, or $305.8 million at average exchange.

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