After more than 25 years working for other luxury international brands, Rachelle Giroux is venturing out on her own.The Canada native, who left her position as president of Paul & Shark North America in December, has created an e-commerce business called Via Luca that will launch later this week.Giroux, who also held key posts at Ermenegildo Zegna and Joyce Boutique in Hong Kong in addition to her decade-long career at Paul & Shark, said the site is designed to provide a platform for high-quality Italian men’s wear brands that are largely unknown in the North American market.Among the brands that will be offered at the launch are Alessandro Simoni, a knitwear brand; Bruli sportswear; Equipage trousers; Marfin grooming products; Laboratorio Del Carmine shirts, and Zamparini shoes.“I’ve been in the business for 25 years, I’ve seen the evolution and I knew e-commerce was going to be a big part of it going forward,” she said.So she ferreted out some of the finest manufacturers in Italy — many of which create product for the country’s best-known names — and created Via Luca. “I wanted to give them a voice,” she said. “Some of these businesses are second-, third- or fourth-generation brands, they’re specialists and artisans — and there are fewer and fewer of them.”The site includes write-ups on the history of labels, often including photos of the founders or the craftspeople, so customers can get a better feel for the companies.While the initial launch will be with 10 brands, Giroux said other labels will be added for spring.The company has set up a warehouse in Toronto from which online orders will be delivered within three to five days anywhere in North America. CETA, the Canadian European Trade Act, was passed on Sept. 21, providing a quote for duty-exempt imports from EEC countries, allowing Via Luca to spend its resources on the start-up, customer acquisition and marketing.The business is completely self-funded, Giroux said.Although Via Luca will sell direct to consumer through its site, Giroux said that she will also serve as the exclusive North American distribution agent for the brands for any retailers interested in adding the collections. The plan also involves expanding to China by 2019.“I believe in Made in Italy,” she said. “And these are Italian products made by Italians with a story that needs to be told.”
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