Byline: Sara Gay Forden

MILAN--For years, Italian designer Gianfranco Ferre has wooed the fashion elite with his signature organza blouses and other sophisticated styles. Now he says the time has come to move into the diffusion market in a big way with his little-known second line, Studio 000.1 by Ferre.
"We went through a phase of stabilization," said Ferre during a recent interview in his design studio here. "And now the line is ready to be distributed broadly in the U.S. market. It is typical of my company to take things one step at a time, and now is the moment for the big expansion push."
And when Ferre says big, he means big. For starters, he has organized a gala kickoff fashion show for Studio 000.1 men's and women's fall-winter '95 collections in New York on Feb. 1 at the American Standard Building. The fashion show extravaganza, to which 600 people have been invited, has been designed to give its New York guests a taste of the Italian "Carnivale." The show will feature the spirited circus group, Le Cirque du Soleil, dressed in costumes from the Commedia dell'Arte, as well as two Canadian acrobats.
Proceeds from the event will be donated to the DIFFA (Design Industries Foundation Fighting Aids) and the show will be followed by a dinner for a smaller crowd at Cipriani.
Produced by Marzotto SpA, Studio 000.1 by Ferré was created in 1987 and launched in international markets in 1988. The name, Ferre explained, comes from a computer-generated bar code. "When the final article of clothing has been completely checked, has met all quality control criteria, and is perfect and ready for shipping, the computer marks it 000.1," the designer explained with a smile.
The name not withstanding, things didn't go perfectly with the collection, despite the fact that Ferre has always been directly involved in designing the line. It performed well in European and Far Eastern markets, but failed to gather momentum in the United States, prompting Marzotto to pull the women's collection from the U.S. market altogether several seasons ago and start over fresh. The men's collection has been available continuously. However, rather than backtrack, Ferre has decided to relaunch the men's and the women's collections with a new vigor. A massive advertising campaign is in the works, to include print media, billboards, kiosks and public transportation, for which more than $1 million has been budgeted for 1995. Ferre has already booked the top illuminated panel on the so-called "Head of the Square" building in Times Square for the men's collection for the month of February and the company is trying to reserve a space for the women's campaign in the spring as well.
According to Sergio Garretti, chairman of Marzotto USA, several key things were accomplished while the line was suspended from the market. First, the fit of the collection was revised specifically for the American market.
"The shape of the American woman is very different from that of the European woman or from that of the Japanese woman," explained Ferre. "The American woman tends to be more square, while the European woman is rounder and the Japanese woman is smaller overall," he said. "Therefore, while the collection is the same, the proportions need to be different," he said. The second step was to revise the way the collection is put together and presented to create coordinated groups that could be delivered to stores in unified batches.
"In Italy, the buyer just buys the collection, and that's it," said Garretti. "But in the U.S., a collection has to be delivered in groups and according to themes in order for it to work well with the leading department stores. They have a lot of space to fill, and they need the merchandise to work together. So we have corrected both of these things: fit and delivery. Now this is a truly global collection."
The collection, which will be distributed to better department stores and specialty stores, consists of some 200 pieces and is whosesale priced at $350 for a suit and $390 for a pantsuit.
Ferre said the Studio 000.1 collection is quite different from his top line and is focused more on daywear such as jackets and suits for professional women.
"This is really a collection in and of itself," explained Ferre. "You won't find the poor cousin of my organza blouse here, but the same woman who wears the top line for evening could wear Studio 000.1 for work." Ferre said the fall-winter '95 collection will include colors that have become trademarks of his signature designs: gray and white as neutrals, some touches of red, and pastels. He said the shoulder will be more rounded and shoulder pads will come back, although not like the blockbuster power-suit shoulders of the early Eighties. The collection will include a broad selection of vests that can be mixed and matched with jackets, as well as skirts in several lengths and lots of pants.
"This collection is positioned in real life," Ferré said. "It is the kind of collection that if you find yourself realizing that what you really need is a fine blue jacket, you will find it here."

load comments
blog comments powered by Disqus