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HONG KONG — Italian outerwear brand Moncler opened its first freestanding store in Asia this month, welcoming swarms of shoppers eager to buy quilted jackets and matching boots on a 71 degree December day.
Remo Ruffini, president and creative director of Moncler, said the 1,500-square-foot store, located on the second floor of the high-end IFC shopping mall in Hong Kong’s Central District, underscores the city’s key position on the retail scene.
“I think Hong Kong is the most important city for fashion in Asia; in our point of view, it’s the capital of shopping here,” said Ruffini. The new store’s neighbors include Valentino, Etro, Roberto Cavalli and de Grisogono.
This is the first time Moncler has opened a monobrand shop that is not wholly owned by the company. Instead, it is a franchise operated by Amma Holdings, the retail distribution firm owned by Adrienne Ma.
“Collaborating with Adrienne is interesting. She is our first partner in retail — it’s an opportunity for us to grow,” said Ruffini, who described the opening as “an important challenge that sees us directly committed to an opening schedule that will not only involve all of China, but the Asian continent as a whole.”
Ma did not elaborate on plans for further rollouts in the region, except to specify there is “a small expansion program” in place and she hopes that Hong Kong shoppers and Mainland Chinese tourists will make up Moncler’s customer demographic here. “I’d like to groom a Chinese customer base; maybe we’ll expand to the Mainland,” she said.
Ma declined to give a sales forecast for the store.
Ma and Ruffini defended the decision to open an outerwear store in snow-free Hong Kong, citing the increasing breath of the Moncler collection. “In 2002, our sports collection was 80 percent of sales, now it’s less than 5 percent. The ski collection is a small business. The collections have grown to be very wearable, while still bearing the Moncler signature,” Ruffini said.
The store’s design is based on Moncler’s “city concept” unveiled in Paris and Milan. The interiors, by Gilles & Boissier, feature a mix of urban elements and alpine accents like Belgian blue stone floors, sleek glass displays, carved wood walls and deerskin-upholstered chairs.
Another distinct feature of the store is a lack of a “sale” sign. The economy is hitting retailers hard here, but Ma and Ruffini remain upbeat. “So far, we haven’t been affected by this financial crisis. We did revise our projections, but we revised them up — our sales have increased 30 percent this year,” Ruffini said.