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Ungaro’s Vision of Fuchsia

PARIS — Emanuel Ungaro is thinking pink — and green.<br><br>Eager to expand his customer base — and bottom line — by offering more affordable designs, the French designer is launching Ungaro Fuchsia, an extensive, item-driven...

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PARIS — Emanuel Ungaro is thinking pink — and green.

Eager to expand his customer base — and bottom line — by offering more affordable designs, the French designer is launching Ungaro Fuchsia, an extensive, item-driven contemporary collection with an average retail price of $180. Retailers here begin previewing the line today. It is slated to bow in stores next spring.

“There is a great demand from young clients who are attracted to the look of Ungaro but want something more approachable in terms of price,” said Giambattista Valli, artistic director of the house and its chief ready-to-wear designer. “Fuchsia is a more affordable line, but with the same spirit of femininity and sensuality.”

The initial offering comprises 250 pieces, with a concentration on knitwear, jersey and cocktail dresses. Valli said it reflects Ungaro’s reputation for prints, color and evening clothes, but also spans clothes that young women can wear for work or during more casual hours.

Ungaro Fuchsia targets customers aged 25 to 35, whereas the main collection is primarily purchased by women ages 35 to 45, he noted.

To be sure, the new label arrives at a time when the top Emanuel Ungaro ready-to-wear collection is selling briskly at retail. According to the house, sales of the collection will double this year over 2001 and are projected to reach $15 million in North America next year. New U.S. clients this season include Susan of Burlingame, Ultimo in Chicago and Mitchells of Westport. Meanwhile, sales in Ungaro boutiques are running 30 percent ahead of a year ago.

Ungaro has marketed several diffusion lines in the past — variously labeled U and Ungaro — but typically under license and with a retail presence limited to Europe. The new Ungaro Fuchsia, however, will be produced in-house at Italian factories and seek an international audience.

The company declined to provide sales projections for Ungaro Fuchsia, but said it would be offered to its current customer base, and aimed at such hip specialty chains as Scoop, Intermix, Fred Segal and Barneys Co-op. For the debut season, the sales force, led in the U.S. by Angelo Casiero, vice president of sales and marketing, is focused on major cities including New York, Los Angeles, Miami, San Francisco, Chicago, Dallas, Houston and Atlanta. The line will also be pitched to retailers through Ungaro’s subsidiaries in Japan, through agents in Italy and Spain and to the rest of Europe through its Paris showroom. It will also be showcased in Ungaro boutiques.

Valli stressed the item focus of the line.

“We can’t forget that the total look is over,” he said. “Women are buying from everywhere today.”

But he also said so-called disposable fashion is on the wane, which is why he vows timeless design and fine production for the new line.

Ungaro continues to distribute Fever, a young sportswear collection with a streetwear-disco edge produced by Swinger International SpA. In the future, that line will become even more denim-focused, according to Valli.

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