NEW YORK — Dino Valiano, an Italian resort-inspired knitwear collection with a fuller fit, is taking another stab at the U.S. market. The brand, based in Donauwoerth, Germany, and manufactured by majority owner Gruppo Marlys of Vicenza, Italy, on the outskirts of Venice, has begun showing its spring 2003 collection here and has been reengineered with lighter fabrics. Its objective: a U.S. wholesale volume of at least $2.5 million in the first or second year, with 25 to 35 accounts, primarily upscale specialty stores."It’s a safe projection," said Rainer Engstfeld, minority owner of the Dino Valiano brand. "We have a lot of old relationships" with retailers that previously carried the label. Among the stores that have decided to buy the line for spring, according to the company, are Edith Morré in Palm Desert, Calif.; Village Set in Chicago; Godfry’s in Worthington, Ohio; Kitty B. in Beverly Hills, Calif.; Veneto in Naples, Fla.; and Jones & Jones, of McAllen, Tex.Distribution of Dino Valiano, a fictitious name coined for the collection, was halted four years ago due to legal complications over production rights that were resolved a year later. Engstfeld said volume has been built up to $25 million, with a third of the distribution in Germany. Most of the remaining volume is in Japan, Korea, Taiwan and China. There are also Dino Valiano boutiques in Düsseldorf, Paris, Taipei and Marbella, Spain."We believe it is the right time to go back to the states," said Engstfeld. "We are well financed, and we have in Skender Perolli an excellent partner." Perolli is president of Begali, a company that holds exclusive distribution rights for Dino Valiano in the Western Hemisphere, excluding Canada, as well as for Mondi in the entire Western Hemisphere. Begali has a showroom for Dino Valiano, next door to the Mondi showroom at 530 Seventh Avenue. Lori Veith represents the line in the Dallas Mart. Begali is financed by Star Funding, which specializes in purchase order and accounts receivable financing and factoring. Michelle Fix was named vice president of sales for Dino Valiano, as well asfor Mondi. She was vice president of ready-to-wear sales at Samsonite Black Label.Dino Valiano is priced in the "gold range" between bridge and designer and has an affluent, resort feel. Woven pants and jackets work with the knitwear. There are also a few accessories and suits, for a total of 160 styles, each in different colors. "Every part of the collection is made in Venice," said Perolli. At the showroom, "I’ll be seeing a lot of the same retail customers" who also buy Mondi, said Perolli. While both collections are high-end, they’re not really competitive, since Dino Valiano is conservative, classic and geared for women 35 to 65 who are seeking a flowing fit. Mondi, with a U.S. wholesale volume of about $4 million, is contemporary and younger in spirit.

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