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Homey Meets Luxe at Frette’s U.S. Flagship

Frette, the luxury lingerie, linen and home accessories brand, wants customers to lounge, linger and explore its newest venture.

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Frette, the luxury lingerie, linen and home accessories brand, wants customers to lounge, linger and explore its newest venture — a modernistic overhaul of its Madison Avenue flagship in Manhattan.

This story first appeared in the December 29, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

After 11 months of renovations, the multilevel townhouse was reopened in late November. The concept by architect Randall A. Ridless is intended to showcase an expanded product line of innerwear and home accessories for men and women, as well as a new, contemporary vision of the Frette brand.

The homey ambience, which reflects the warmth and refinement of a family townhouse on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, features dark-stained oak flooring and cream-colored wall coverings that compliment plush assortments of cashmere and silk innerwear surrounded by decorative pillows, fur throws, and artisan home and travel accessories.

Paul Raffin, global chief executive officer of Frette Inc., described the new store at 799 Madison Avenue as “one of the most important Frette stores in the world.”

The relaunch of the unit comes after the opening of the first Frette boutique in Boston in October at the Mandarin Oriental Boston Hotel and Residence.

The average sales per square foot of the 3,000-square-foot boutique is projected at more than $1,000, similar to Frette’s 10 other U.S. boutiques. The company’s active consumer base in the U.S. is around 20,000, Raffin said.

Addressing Frette’s retail strategy, Raffin said, “It represents a significant strategic step toward the enhanced positioning of the brand. While maintaining our bed-centric origins, we are aggressively evolving into a more complex experience, offering many more products to address our customers’ living occasions.”

He added that the luxury boutique is located near other marquee names such as Gucci, Chanel and Van Cleef & Arpels.

“Frette has always appealed to a discerning connoisseur who appreciates artisan quality craftsmanship, coupled with impeccable design,” Raffin said. “Given the difficult times we are living in, our customers find our products address their need for less conspicuous, more nurturing forms of luxury.”

Regarding an expensive renovation during a recession, Raffin said, “Stores such as this require one to one-and-a-half years of planning in advance. Clearly, we did not foresee the current economic circumstances, but we see Frette as a leader. It’s not based upon conspicuous consumption, but consumership based upon artistry and quality that is enduring.

“We’re a 150-year-old company that’s survived,” he observed. “Even with today’s economic challenges, our customers appreciate the quality and the aspect of how Frette makes them feel. We value very reliable clients and we service multiple homes.”

Scott Formby, Frette’s creative director, said the company plans to aggressively expand Frette to Wear for men and women in the fall.

“The next fall collection will be complete,” he said. “You’re already seeing it in cashmere sleepwear, sleep masks and silk slippers. It currently accounts for less than 5 percent, but we see it growing to 15 to 20 percent over the next two to three years.”

Frette was acquired in 2006 for an undisclosed price by San Francisco-based JH Partners, a private equity firm specializing in brand development and marketing.

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