By  on June 8, 2007

MILAN — Tom Ford doesn’t do small.

Two months after the debut of his luxe men’s line and stand-alone flagship in New York, the entrepreneurial designer is set to take his brand global.

Ford and his business partner, Domenico De Sole, said that they had inked a series of strategic agreements — with both franchise and wholesale Partners — that would allow them to expand the Tom Ford brand in key cities on three continents starting in spring 2008.

Adhering to the designer’s original plan, the Tom Ford men’s line will retail exclusively in the Madison Avenue boutique for the first year.

Starting next spring, however, the label will begin a focused rollout in the U.S. and abroad through a multi-tiered plan that involves franchised and directly operated stores, as well as exclusive shop-in-shops.

The list of partners — a who’s who of global luxury retailing — includes Lane Crawford Joyce Group for Asia, Villa Moda and UAE Trading in the Middle East, Mercury in Russia, Harrods in London and the Neiman Marcus Group in the U.S. Other partners include Trois Pommes in Switzerland and Daslu in Brazil.

“This is a great day for us as we have now laid the foundation necessary to become a true global luxury brand,” said Tom Ford, president and chief executive officer. “The plan will allow us the platform needed to reach and service our customers worldwide.”

When completed, the 10-year plan will create 100 freestanding Tom Ford stores and many shop-in-shops. Global distribution will begin next year with the opening of a directly operated flagship in Milan, as well as franchised stores in Moscow, Zurich, St. Moritz, Hong Kong, Beijing, Kuwait, Dubai and Qatar.

Stateside, Ford’s brand of fashionably luxurious tailored clothing and indulgent accouterments like embroidered velvet slippers will be available in a shop-in-shop in Bergdorf Goodman as well as select Neiman Marcus stores starting in spring 2008.

Senior Bergdorf brass, including chief executive officer Jim Gold, were among the first retailers invited to view the collection and take in the concept when Ford opened the doors to his two-level New York store in April. At the time, Tommy Fazio, men’s fashion director at Bergdorf Goodman, called the collection “the best execution ... of mixing Old World haberdashery with a modernistic approach.”Outside the U.S., shop-in-shops are planned for Harrods in London, Daslu in Sao Paulo, and multiple units in Joyce Boutique stores in Tokyo and Osaka.

“We will remain in much tighter distribution than our competitors and will place a priority on delivering the highest-quality product and the greatest standard of service,” Ford said.

Service, despite a New York Times write-up lambasting the lack of it in the Madison Avenue store, remains fundamental to the Tom Ford brand. A source close to Ford said the company was working to correct any shortcomings at the Manhattan shop and noted that Ford was bringing in additional floor staff to meet the surging demand.

Following the Milan store, directly operated units will open in London (where Ford has his design studio), Los Angeles and Hawaii over the next three years. The London flagship is slated for a 2009 opening, as are 11 franchised shops in locations that include Shanghai and Beijing. In 2010, Ford will inaugurate the Los Angeles and Hawaii shops along with 15 franchised stores throughout Asia, including a flagship in Tokyo.

A cornerstone of the expansion plan is the deal with the Lane Crawford Joyce Group. Over the next 10 years at least 87 franchised Tom Ford stores will open throughout Asia in partnership with the group, in countries including but not limited to Japan, Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, Macau, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and Australia.

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