PLINER’S RETAIL EXPANSION: Leather outerwear will be an important part of the mix when Donald J. Pliner opens four stores within the next year.

Next month, a 2,500-square-foot company-owned store bows in Coral Gables, Fla., while a franchised unit will open in San José’s Silicon Valley. The company will follow up with a 4,000-square-foot store in Beverly Hills next June, not far from where the designer opened a Shop for Papagallo store in 1967. He plans to open a Pliner store in New York for fall 2003, increasing Pliner’s store count to seven.

Known for his footwear and accessories, Pliner has updated his outerwear to include more athletic-inspired styles and sportswear for spring. He wanted to open more stores to give customers a better sense of the different items the brand offers, he said.

"We found that no matter how much a department store or specialty store carries, it’s usually only 20 percent of the line," he said. "We thought this was one way to grow beyond advertising. We’ve also found that where we open stores, that has helped department stores in those areas."

David J. Bartelucci Architects is designing the Coral Gables space. It will have Moroccan decor with Pliner’s signature scarlet walls, cow print and carved pig statues. That design also reflects the new look of Pliner’s New York showroom, another attempt to make the brand more cohesive in buyers’ eyes.

On another front, Pliner is launching a Web site for consumers to use as a store locator or check out new catalogs.

WOOLRICH’S NEW DEAL: Woolrich has signed a three-year licensing deal with Manzella Productions, a Buffalo-based company, to produce a line of Woolrich gloves.

The 10-piece women’s collection will consist of casual and activewear styles, and will bow at the Outdoor Retailer trade show in Salt Lake City in January, said Jeffrey Liebel, chief operating officer of Manzella Productions.

Casual offerings will focus on knits like rag wool or merino wool gloves, and the active styles will play up waterproof, breathable fleece, which can be used for outdoor activities like sledding or for glove liners. Wholesale prices will range from $7 to $20. The collection will be offered at apparel and outdoor specialty stores.

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