MILAN — The opening of four stores in Florida this month is an American dream come true for Blunauta.
The Rome-based label is expanding its business across the Atlantic, despite a generally uncertain global economic climate.
Over the next two weeks, Blunauta USA, based in Boca Raton, Fla., along with mall developer Taubman Group will roll out four stores in shopping centers in Orlando, Miami, Tampa and Palm Beach. Next year, the firm plans a Fifth Avenue store in New York, and by 2005, it plans to count 18 stores in the U.S.
While acknowledging that times are tough in the U.S., Stefano De Santis, general manager of Balloon SpA, the firm that produces the Blunauta brand, said: "Americans react to and overcome a crisis with incredible speed, compared to Europeans," adding that the number of potential buyers there remains "a drawing force."
De Santis compared Blunauta’s market range to that of such brands as Ann Taylor and Max Mara. "We think we have a good balance between price and quality," he said, noting that a silk blouse, for example, retails around $100.
The line is designed by a team in Italy and offers a total look for women, from underwear to jackets and suits, and includes a selection of fabric accessories and handbags. Silk and other natural fibers like cotton and cashmere make up the company’s core business. The spring collection features romantic looks, with fringed or flower skirts with uneven hems, embroidered bell-bottom suede pants, Asian-inspired jackets in such colors as purple, white, turquoise, pink and green, with touches of golden yellow and lacquered red combined with basic black.
"Exports now account for 10 percent of sales, but we want these to account for 60 percent in three to five years," said De Santis. In 2001, the company registered sales of $31 million. He expects a 20 percent increase in sales this year.
Balloon is also expanding in the European market: The company has two stores in London, and four in Spain — in Madrid, Valencia and Marbella. Next year, it plans stores in Seville, Malaga, Frankfurt, Moscow and Prague. "It’s not only a matter of sales, we want to have an international dimension," said De Santis."We are also looking to China and Japan," he continued. In total, the firm counts 90 sales points, of which 55 are franchised.
Roberto Greco, president and chief executive officer, whose family founded the company 30 years ago, reorganized the management base and structure seven years ago, calling De Santis on board. De Santis is a shareholder, together with other top managers.
De Santis first shook things up in Milan, where Blunauta staged its first fashion show in September 2001, while tapping photographer Fabrizio Ferri to shoot the brand’s ad campaign, which featured model and actress Charlize Theron (for Italy only).
"These steps were instrumental for the relaunch of the brand," said De Santis, noting that, on average, the firm does not spend more than 5 percent of sales on communications.
De Santis noted that customer care and a welcoming store concept are also top priorities.
@tradesy is turning the concept of a showroom upside down with its new space in Santa Monica. Here, the company plans to hold events, art exhibits and a showcase rare fashion pieces like this Louis Vuitton boxing set. Get all the details on Tradesy’s first showroom on WWD.com. #wwdnews
Spotted last night at the @erdem x @hm launch event: Kate Bosworth, Rashida Jones, Kirsten Dunst and Selma Blair. The party, which took place in LA, also marked the opening of their pop-up shop. “I was interested in creating a collection that wasn’t in any way disposable. It was about pieces you’d create and keep forever, things that have a permanence to it,” designer Erdem Moralioglu said. #wwdeye (📷: Katie Jones)
Renee Zellweger in yellow in 2001 and again in 2017. Chosen as one of the 12 @pantone Leading Spring Colors (and dubbed “Meadowlark”), it only makes sense that the bright hue stands the test of time and is making a resurgence this season, seen already on stars like @blakelively and @gigihadid. (📷: Donato Sardello & @rexfeatures) #wwdfashion #tbt
Dior’s 70th anniversary celebration continues with a new exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. “Christian Dior,” which is scheduled to run through March 18, takes a look at the founders tenure from 1947 to 1057 and feature 40 designs. Pictured here is an evening gown from the Ailée, fall 1948-49 haute couture collection. #wwdfashion (📷: Brian Boyle)
As one of the most recognizable models in the world, Christy Turlington Burns has an insider’s view of the fashion industry and the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around it. “I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry. The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experiences at some point in our careers,” Turlington told WWD, along with her suggestions for how the modeling world should protect younger women and men. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: Tony Palmieri) #wwdnews
@asics America has tapped a new brand ambassador: famed DJ/record producer @steveaoki. This initiative is intended to set the tone for the new brand identity and philosophy and will include partnerships with influencers and in-store and off-line activations that will continue into next year. This is Asics’ most significant marketing effort in two decades, and is expected to attract younger consumers to the brand. #wwdfashion
24-year-old Jean Prounis is redefining the rules of jewelry. Formerly a studio assistant to Jemima Kirke and a design apprentice at Ghuran, she focuses on handcrafted subtleties and ancient goldsmithing techniques. “There was a really sterile feel in the environment and I wanted to have jewelry with character that shapes how you wear it everyday,” Prounis said. Each piece is hand made in New York, either by Prounis or three other jewelers in the district. #wwdfashion
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews