By  on February 25, 2008

MILAN — After securing elite points of sale, designer Gianvito Rossi is laying the foundation for more expansion of his accessories business by setting up his own production plant and opening stores in Milan and Paris this year.

Rossi, son of renowned footwear designer Sergio Rossi, who sold his company to Gucci Group in 1999, launched his first collection for spring-summer 2007 and quickly caught the eye of major stores. For this spring-summer line, Rossi will introduce two styles of handbags: multicolored leather clutches and luxurious crocodile satchels in vibrant colors such as fuchsia. The bags wholesale for $900 to $1,500.

The designer's namesake line is available at Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and Jeffrey's in New York, Harrods in London, Isetan in Tokyo, Tsum in Moscow and Harvey Nichols in Dubai. The handbags are expected to have the same distribution.

"We've had a very positive response, the kind of niche distribution we had in mind," Rossi said.

In line with this strategy, Rossi said the boutique in Milan will be more of an atelier, "warm and welcoming, traditionally Italian yet modern." The designer has tapped architect Patricia Urquiola to create a concept store reflecting Rossi's views. The 1,400-square-foot boutique will open at the end of next month in the historic 19th-century Palazzo Bagatti Valsecchi.

The Palazzo, which also houses a museum, is located on Via Santo Spirito, in Milan's golden shopping triangle, near Rossi's showroom. The designer is negotiating a space in Paris, where a boutique is to open in July.

"These projects help our visibility, but we want to remain exclusive and have no plans for other stores in the near future," Rossi said.

The new 32,400-square-foot manufacturing plant in San Mauro Pascoli, one of Italy's main footwear hubs — from where the Rossi family hails — employs some 40 people and will be able to produce 40,000 to 50,000 pairs of shoes annually. Rossi put the investment at 4 million euros, or $5.8 million at current exchange. Handbags are produced in an outside factory in Bologna.

"We are in total control of the goods, from hides purchasing to the final product," said Rossi, who opts for feminine and glamorous designs in his footwear which retails from $450 upward. "It's more about the shape, the proportions and the materials, rather than excessive decors."The designer declined to provide sales for the company, but said that business is balanced among all geographic markets. Rossi's brother, Gianmarco, is also involved in the project and is in charge of the more financial aspects of the company. Their father consults on the business.

"Heritage is very important," Rossi said.

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