MILAN — Versace plans to invest about 45 million euros, or almost $70 million, to open 11 stores this year, mainly in Asia, further tapping a market it hopes will replace the U.S. as its second largest in terms of sales after Europe.
In an interview at the Italian fashion group's atelier on Via Jesu on Thursday, Versace chief executive Giancarlo Di Risio said the decision to add almost two square miles of retail space was based on the premise that the wider the net in the right waters, the wider the return.
"It responds to the logic of market penetration," Di Risio said. "Asia has more consumers, above all with respect to luxury, and is growing in an exponential manner....We are thinking of growth."
Di Risio declined to give financial forecasts for the year. But citing sales of 310.6 million euros, or $425.8 million at average exchange, in 2007, and debt at 20 percent of turnover, the ceo said now was the right time to invest in expansion despite the economic uncertainty — and without recourse to the markets.
"Versace doesn't need to list at the moment," Di Risio said. "We finance ourselves through regular lines of credit."
The first of the new boutique opens today in the Papillon Mall in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with a second to follow in that city later this year. The other units are planned for Macau and two each in Hong Kong, Taiwan, China and Europe. Versace's global store count stood at 71 at the end of last year.
Di Risio said one of the boutiques in Hong Kong would be a 5,400-square-foot, two-level flagship on Canton Road, while another in Europe would be Versace's first unit in Milan devoted exclusively to the brand's home collection. All the stores will follow Versace's latest black-and-white design scheme.
Notwithstanding the drive to build new and long-lasting relationships with consumers in Asia, Di Risio said America remained important to Versace.
"The United States still represents for us a market where there is large growth, aside from the effects of the dollar, oil prices or the economy," he said. "We have yet to express ourselves and grow to our potential [there]."To wit, Donatella Versace will attend an exclusive launch of men's wear at Barneys New York on Wednesday.
Di Risio also said the company plans to consolidate its accessories business at 40 percent of sales, with a focus on watches and jewelry. "This will definitely be one of the segments that we start to push and grow in a very intense manner from 2008," Di Risio said.
He added Versace would open a second stand-alone watch store — the first opened in Rome last year — in Dubai at the beginning of 2009, and that the company was assessing stand-alone jewelry formats, taking a lead from Italian rival Gucci.
Versace also is charting other luxury waters — or skies. After signing an agreement with helicopter maker AgustaWestland last year, Di Risio said the first two Agusta-Versace choppers were ready for handing over to their European buyers. He added the fashion house had almost finished an Airbus 380 airplane and was planning other "residential" luxury projects.
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Known for his sleek, sophisticated American glamour, Norman Norell is the subject of an upcoming exhibition at @fitnyc. “Norell: Dean of American Fashion,” which runs from February 9 through April 14, will feature approximately 100 ensembles and accessories. His best work is exemplified by the designer’s glittering “mermaid” gowns frosted with thousands of hand-sewn sequins – like the one pictured. (📷: William Helburn) #wwdfashion
For pre-fall 2018, @balmain didn’t let go of the glitz. A crystal embroidered baseball jacket priced at around $40,000 hangs in the “couture” section of the brand’s first men’s pre-collection. Sporting the words “Balmain Army” across the back, the item took around two months to make. “When it was completed, it was like Christmas, it was like, ‘It’s done, it’s exactly what I wanted,’” said Balmain’s creative director @olivier_rousteing during a tour of the collection in a Paris showroom on Monday. #wwdfashion
Eighty degree temperatures and outdoor installations at the annual Art Basel Miami Beach called for bright, elevated beachwear. See more street style pictures on WWD.com. #theyarewearing #ABMB (📷: @lifeinreverie)
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Demna Gvasalia continues to shake up the Paris fashion calendar — and experiment with new runway timetables for his @vetements_official brand. WWD has learned that Vetements plans to stage its next coed show for the fall 2018 season on January 19 during Men’s Fashion Week in the French capital. Details about the timing and venue have not been confirmed — stay tuned on WWD.com to catch the latest. #wwdnews (📷: @giovanni_giannoni_photo)
@zacposen's go-to holiday gift? Cookies! "I'll usually bake cookies and send them as a gift," said the designer, who recently released his cookbook "Cooking With Zac: Recipes from Rustic to Refined." Get the recipe for his Brown Butter-Chocolate Chip Cookies via link in bio 🍪🍪🍪 #wwdeye #cookingwithzac
For @monsemaison’s pre-fall 2018 collection, Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim honed in on the brand’s many signatures — men’s wear, which was tweaked and feminized through deconstruction, proportion play and lots of bare shoulders. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: George Chinese)
On Friday night, @yohjiyamamotoofficial received the Design for Asia Lifetime Achievement Award in Hong Kong. The 75-year-old designer has been celebrated for many years and is best known for his dark and avant-garde tailoring. “In my long career, in design, architecture, [I’ve been to] so many parties, this is the very first time that I have such a warm feeling, I really appreciate this,” Yamamoto said. #wwdfashion (📷: @dominiquemaitre)