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Furla Toasts Olivia Palermo in Tokyo

The Italian brand brought the socialite to Japan to help launch its spring-summer collection.

GUEST OF HONOR: Olivia Palermo provided a dose of celebrity glamour to Furla’s spring-summer collection launch in Tokyo Monday night.

The socialite, who has a big following in Japan, posed for snaps and sat for a string of brief interviews with local fashion press. Palermo said she was only in town for a few days and didn’t have much time for sightseeing this time but she has become something of an expert on the city. In the spring, she played tourist with boyfriend Johannes Huebl and two friends.

This story first appeared in the November 20, 2013 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

“We’re just all big Tokyo lovers so we decided to rent bicycles for seven days and rode around the city and really got to know all different areas,” she said. “You do it in London, Paris, New York, so why not do it in Tokyo?”

The Italian brand’s bash was the second fashion event to take over the Tokyo National Museum in less than a week, coming on the heels of a party hosted by Michael Kors and Elle Japan to honor Miranda Kerr.

Japan is Furla’s largest market, accounting for 27 percent of the company’s revenue, and has posted strong sales growth for the past three years, said chairman Giovanna Furlanetto. The brand has 69 stores in the country and the company is looking to leverage its presence in Japan as it expands to other Asian markets. Earlier this year, the company inked a joint-venture deal with Hong Kong-based Fung Group to open more than 100 Furla stores in Greater China. Currently the brand has 24 stores there.

Chinese women are responding to Furla’s price/quality ratio and more understated brand image compared to some luxury players, she said.

“We think we have the right positioning to take advantage of this window of opportunity,” said Furlanetto, adding that the brand is in the final stages of securing a store location on Fifth Avenue.

The executive also revealed that the brand is collaborating with Tokyo-based celebrity florist Nicolai Bergmann on three exclusive patterns that will be incorporated into products destined for international release come fall 2014. Bergmann created a series of botanical installations for the Tokyo event.

“I hope that we will find artists in every country with whom we can collaborate,” she said.

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