NEW YORK — La Perla is introducing a new line this fall called La Perla Black Label.

First-year wholesale sales projections are $300,000, said Gianluca Flore, chief executive officer of the U.S. unit of Bologna, Italy-based apparel giant Gruppo La Perla.

Also considered a luxury line, Black Label’s retail price points average about 35 percent less than La Perla’s primary line.

A select number of bras, panties and related daywear pieces bearing the Black Label is currently being tested at Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus, as well as seven La Perla boutiques in the U.S. located in Miami, Boston, Chicago, Beverly Hills, South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, Calif., and two Manhattan boutiques — one on Madison Avenue and another on Greene Street.

"It’s very erotic-looking lingerie, something for the woman who definitely wants something different," said Flore, leafing through a book with models and visuals showing the new Black Label brand, using black and white photography.

The Black Label lingerie, rendered primarily in novelty laces, tulle and silk chiffon, features special effects such as double strap treatments and cutouts on bra cups, feathers adorning the front of G-strings, novelty pom-poms and oversized ribbons centered at the top of thong-back panties. There also are a variety of corsets and bustiers, sleep gowns that have a Hollywood vintage look in long, romantic, bias-cut silhouettes, as well as printed stretch daywear tops and bottoms.

Suggested retail prices for the new line’s bras are $130 to $160, and panties are $50 to $80. Bras in the primary La Perla collection average $200 to $215 and panties are $80 to $150.

Anne Caetano, divisional merchandise manager of intimate apparel and hosiery at Saks, noted, "The La Perla Black Label collection has performed very well for us. We are extremely pleased with the reaction to the bustiers and bras and panties."

Regarding La Perla’s overall business in the U.S., Flore said combined wholesale and retail sales were up 6 percent in 2002, totaling $23 million.

Flore added that the $300 million parent, Gruppo La Perla, which maintains 60 boutiques worldwide, plans to open several additional units in the U.S. over the next few years in San Francisco, Houston and Las Vegas."We’re also considering Washington D.C.," said Flore. "There seems to be a lot of interest in lingerie in that city."

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