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Armani’s Aggressive Approach

MILAN — While many fashion houses are struggling to keep up with the uncertain economic and political times, Giorgio Armani is continuing an aggressive retail strategy, rolling out new sales points around the world each month.<br><br>At the same...

MILAN — While many fashion houses are struggling to keep up with the uncertain economic and political times, Giorgio Armani is continuing an aggressive retail strategy, rolling out new sales points around the world each month.

At the same time, the company is working to diversify its products and this month introduced Christmas decorations and gifts under the Armani Casa label. In particular, the collection includes colorful star-shaped, handblown glass tree ornaments, China-inspired candleholders, silver frames, charms and key chains, among other items.

“In his approach to the Casa line, Mr. Armani is considering not only a comprehensive lifestyle, but different moments of the year when it has to be relevant,” said Robert Triefus, vice president and director of worldwide communications. “The seasonality and discipline of fashion is applied here: each season Mr. Armani layers on something new, and his stores have something new to offer.”

The designer will open his first Armani Casa store in Spain, in Marbella, next month. Created by Armani and a team of in-house architects, the loft-like, one-story floor covers 2,700 square feet and features natural light, flexible spaces and polished concrete floors. The store is franchised.

There are currently seven Armani Casa stores in the world: two in Milan and one each in Paris, New York, Los Angeles, Istanbul and Athens.

In Athens, the designer opened his first Giorgio Armani boutique this month. At over 8,900 square feet on five floors, this is one of the largest Giorgio Armani shops in the world. It is owned and operated under a franchise agreement with Sandro Bruni Distribution SpA, which manages the Emporio Armani store and cafe in Athens and the Emporio Armani store in Salonika, in northern Greece.

“While we believe in directly controlling our stores as much as possible, we feel it is important to be supported by local partners with a knowledge of the market in those countries where an infrastructure is needed,” said Triefus.

Armani worked with architect Claudio Silvestrin and the store is modeled after the Milan, Paris and recently opened Moscow boutiques. With Silvestrin, Armani opened a Giorgio Armani boutique in Zurich and his first Casa store in that city this month. Both are franchised. There are 56 Giorgio Armani boutiques globally.

This month, Armani also opened an Emporio Armani accessories store in Madrid, its first solely dedicated to that division outside Milan. The two-story store spans nearly 2,800 square feet and carries the complete range of accessories for women and men, including shoes, bags, belts, watches, eyewear and gifts. The store was designed by Armani with architect Maurizio Ortelli. The white walls and ceilings and beige stone floors contrast with the oak furniture.

In Kiev, a Collezioni store will open next Wednesday, and on Nov. 1, an Armani/Chater House megastore will open on Chater Road in Hong Kong. It will be the second-largest Armani store in the world, after the store on Via Manzoni here. For the first time, the Giorgio Armani and Emporio Armani collections will be sold together with the Armani Jeans line, Armani Casa and Armani Cosmetics. There will also be a bookstore, a flower shop and an Emporio Armani Café. The store will cover 21,600 square feet.

Armani will also open a new Emporio Armani store in Rio de Janeiro next month, the third Emporio Armani location in Brazil, the other two being in São Paulo. The designer said in a statement that he wanted to convey Emporio’s “vision of a modern, casual lifestyle.” For this reason, the single-story, 7,560-square-foot store carries a range of collections for women and men from underwear to eveningwear, sportswear, watches, eyewear, shoes and accessories as well as gifts and Armani jeans.

Armani designed the new store with architect Paolo Cermasi; it’s modeled after the recently opened Emporio Armani store on London’s Bond Street. Lighted opaline Plexiglas columns and wall panels contrast with walls of chocolate-brown wenge wood and gray marmorino plaster. The floor is made of refined pietra serena.

There are 114 Emporio Armani stores in the world.