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Europe Watch: Ferragamo Development … Next Generation Textiles …

<b>FERRAGAMO DEVELOPMENT:</b> Salvatore Ferragamo Group has appointed Hervé Martin as product general manager. “Hervé has a solid understanding and great experience in the luxury goods industry,” said Ferruccio Ferragamo, chief...

FERRAGAMO DEVELOPMENT: Salvatore Ferragamo Group has appointed Hervé Martin as product general manager. “Hervé has a solid understanding and great experience in the luxury goods industry,” said Ferruccio Ferragamo, chief executive, in a statement. “He possesses a great knowledge of global sales and marketing strategies, as well as product development and trends.” Martin, who reports to Ferragamo, was president and ceo of Kenzo Mode and managing director of Louis Vuitton for Europe and the Middle East. — Luisa Zargani

NEXT-GENERATION TEXTILES: Technical fabrics — including those that one day could incorporate microcommunications or even pharmaceuticals — is the foundation of Nextex, a trade show set to bow next year in Milan. Organized by Biella Intraprendere, the first show will run from March 31 to April 1 and will be held in conjunction with Filo at Superstudio Più here. Organizers said its twin aims are to promote technical fibers and next-generation fabrics, and to encourage discussion in the industry. “These fabrics may have been seen as the little eccentric brother in the textile world, but they’ve become increasingly important,” said Ermanno Rondi, president of the Biella Trade Union. “We believe these innovative fibers and fabrics will give new opportunity to Italy and create a new market.” The show will host exhibitors from chemical producers to textile machinery manufacturers to yarn and fabric makers. Organizers also will hold a conference to focus on the future of this genre of fibers. While organizers acknowledged that highly technical exhibitors would take part in the fair’s first edition, they are eager to connect with the fashion world. “These types of fabrics or fibers that are in the experimental stages are the seedbed for an entire range of applications,” said one Nextex organizer. — Courtney Colavita

RETAIL ACTION IN PARIS: La Samaritaine is marching forward with the revamp of its landmark Paris department store. Late next year, the LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton-owned unit will transfer the men’s department from its current location in a building on the Rue de Rivoli to the basement of its main building overlooking the Seine, on the Quai du Louvre. Philippe de Beauvoir, president of Samaritaine and the tony Left Bank department store Le Bon Marche, said it has yet to determined what will replace the three-story men’s department. “What is certain is that the first floor will remain the Samaritaine,” he said. As for the other two levels, de Beauvoir said they would be rented. “There won’t be other LVMH brands there, but there could be a restaurant.”

Since acquiring the store in 2000, LVMH has radically transformed it, polishing its image and bringing in new brands. Once a conglomerate of four buildings, the store sliced that number to two by leasing space to recently opened Zara, Sephora, Etam and Kenzo units. Two restaurants — Kong and Lo Sushi — have also opened in former parts of the store. Meanwhile, Samaritaine isn’t the only major Paris department store with plans on the drawing board. Galeries Lafayette is busy turning the former Marks & Spencer unit it purchased in 2001 into a 100,000-square-foot home store — Lafayette Maison — which is slated to open in March 2004. Printemps, also on Boulevard Haussmann, plans this fall to christen what it is trumpeting as the biggest perfumery in the world. And Benetton, also on Haussmann, is scheduled to open a 30,000-square-foot flagship, its biggest store in France, next spring. — Robert Murphy

JUNE GLOOM: It was another tough month for Paris’ department stores, which suffered from transportation strikes and a drop in tourism. Sales fell 6.9 percent in June, according to the city’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry. It follows a 10 percent decline in May and a 7.3 percent drop in April. The number of tourists visiting Printemps on Boulevard Haussmann dropped 26 percent in the first half, according to parent Pinault-Printemps-Redoute. Tourist traffic was down 13 percent at the neighboring Galeries Lafayette during the corresponding period. — R.M.

NOTTING HILLBILLIES: Notting Hill’s Ledbury Road will host two new stores this fall: Matches, a multibrand designer label store, and Diane Von Furstenberg’s first-ever European unit. The new Matches store, at 85 Ledbury Road, will be the second Matches unit on the street, and will stock edgier, younger designer collections. Matches is still finalizing the brand roster. The street’s original Matches sells such labels as Alexander McQueen, Marc Jacobs, Chloé, Stella McCartney and Missoni. Matches owner Tom Chapman also happens to be the licensee for the new Diane Von Furstenberg store that will open next door to the new Matches. The DVF store is set to open in mid-September —right before London Fashion Week kicks off — and will stock the main collection in addition to maternity wear, lingerie and beauty. — Samantha Conti

BUILDING DEL VERME: In a bid to boost his fledgling label, Italian designer Nicola Del Verme has signed a licensing agreement with Milan-based Itoya. Founded and run by former Staff International executive Sandro Dal Prà,

Itoya will oversee distribution of Del Verme’s signature men’s and women’s lines and coordinate production of the lines. Details on the deal were sparse, but a spokeswoman said the agreement also includes the opening of a 6,500-square-foot showroom in Milan in September. Del Verme launched his highly tailored collection in 2001 and is considered one of Italy’s rising talents. Last year, Vestimenta tapped Del Verme as its creative director. — C.C.

NEW LOOK(ING) UP: New Look, the U.K. high street retail chain, saw a slight increase in sales in the seven weeks ending July 12. Like-for-like sales rose 0.1 percent compared with the corresponding period last year. In the previous eight-week period ended May 24, there was a 6.6 percent decline in sales due to the trend for inexpensive, strappy tops that lifted the volume of units sold — but failed to generate much profit. “We are pleased that trading has improved over the last seven weeks, in spite of continuing strong comparatives,” said chief executive, Stephen Sunnucks in a statement Friday. As reported in these columns last week, New Look might also be next U.K. retail property to be sold. Tom Singh, New Look’s shareholder of reference, has appointed independent financial advisers to conduct a strategic review of options for his family’s shareholdings. However, the company declined to comment on the progress of that review on Friday. — Ellen Burney