The interior of the Milan store.

MILAN — Mauro Grifoni is looking to follow the opening of its latest boutique here with continued expansion of its retail network in Europe and a push in the American market.

This story first appeared in the April 2, 2009 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The Caldogno, Italy-based brand’s first boutique here is located in a 19th-century four-story palazzo in the city’s coveted Via Santo Spirito shopping area. The store opened at the end of February during Milan Fashion Week.

Mauro Grifoni, owned by the namesake designer and his partners, Ilaria Sesso and Andrea Breda, comprises women’s and men’s collections, women’s eveningwear, children’s wear and a denim and sportswear division that accounts for 40 percent of sales. In 2008, the company registered sales of 47 million euros, or $69 million at average exchange rates, up 8 percent compared to the previous year, with 5 million euros, or $7.3 million, derived from its own stores. Grifoni expects revenues in 2009 to grow 10 percent.

The Milan store is the brand’s sixth in Italy, and Grifoni said he expected sales of 2 million euros, or $2.5 million, in the first year. Locations in London and Paris are being scouted for stores in the near future, but Grifoni said details have yet to be finalized. The brand is also available at 500 points of sale around the world, including Isetan and Barneys Japan, as well as Barneys New York, Louis Boston and Traffic in Los Angeles.

Sesso said the company is planning a more aggressive push in the U.S. with the summer 2010 collection.

“We are taking the general economic crisis into account, but we’re seeing positive results and even growing our advertising expense to reach 1 million euros [$1.2 million],” said Sesso. “Our customers perceive our collections as timeless pieces that will last.”

Grifoni views directly owned retail as the best way to present consumers with a full picture of the label’s offerings.

“Retail is very important to us. It’s our way to communicate, given the range of our merchandise,” said Grifoni, who started the company in 1992 as a handmade shirtmaker.

The women’s line was launched in 1997 and is designed by Sesso, who said she draws from men’s wear, employing men’s fabrics and cuffs for shirts, for example. That said, there are plenty of delicately flower-patterned coats and pleated miniskirts. As for denim, the women’s best-selling model is the low-waist, body-hugging Kiss, while for men it’s the straight-leg Gorky design.

Sesso said the Milan store was designed to take advantage of existing details to give it a “home feeling.” It blends coffered ceilings painted white, and recovered stuccoed walls with modern touches such as black smoky glass.

The store is also filled with vintage, shabby-chic details like recycled pallets coated in resin, old metal file cabinets that are used as displays and old boxes from haberdashers’ shops that have been turned into shelves. The top floor has been designed to serve as an office, showroom and special events space.