By  on April 2, 2009

PARIS — The Nicole Farhi man has come of age on his 20th birthday, with a new wardrobe and plans to grow.

After celebrating two decades in the men’s wear business with a runway presentation of her fall men’s collection, and a dinner in London with guests including Farhi’s husband Sir David Hare, Ralph Fiennes, Bill Nighy, Lady Amanda Harlech, and Colin and Livia Firth, the label plans to unveil a capsule collection this summer.

Dubbed 20 Nicole Farhi Men’s, the collection features “special pieces that can exist as singular, timeless items that tell the story of the brand as a whole over the last 20 years,” according to Farhi, who founded her fashion house in 1982.

The new collection includes a double-breasted herringbone coat with sheepskin collar, a classic Nicole Farhi suit, a printed velvet jacket with sateen edging, a jacquard knit cardigan and a gold twill trenchcoat, among other items.

“[The Nicole Farhi man] is very style conscious but not fashion conscious and is very loyal to us. He is very well-traveled…and the decision he makes about his clothes is with an education of world style, fabric and quality.

“An understated intellectual,” she added.

Accounting for 30 percent of the label’s turnover, men’s wear, which also includes the Farhi by Nicole Farhi diffusion line, has doubled sales in the last five years. The label, which is owned by French Connection Holdings Inc., generated overall revenues of 30 million pounds, or $55.7 million at average exchange.

“We’ve seen double-digit growth in five years,” said Niki Scordi, Farhi’s recently appointed managing director. “People think of Nicole Farhi as a women’s wear brand, but men’s wear is a considerable part of the business.”

Today the label counts eight freestanding stores, including one men’s store in London, although Scordi said there are plans to expand the business internationally in the medium term, citing Hong Kong, Tokyo, Paris and Milan as priority destinations for the brand’s lifestyle stores.

Despite the shuttering of the Upper East Side store in New York last year, Scordi said the U.S. market has been “very positive” with solid sales from the 202 unit, a smaller scale Nicole Farhi retail concept in the Chelsea Market, and in leading department stores.

Scordi admitted, though, that 2009 would be “tricky” and the company would put the focus on core products in order to ensure sales.

“It’s been more of an investment purchase season than in the past. Men are buying bigger pieces,” said Scordi, adding outerwear was doing “very strongly.” Scordi also noted the upcoming winter season would offer a more formal bent.

“Men are a bit more conservative in such times. They’re not frivolous with their purchases,” she said.

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