Carla Sozzani

MILAN — Could a change of address of storied conceptual store 10 Corso Como be in the cards?

The unit is located in and identified with the street of the same name and has contributed to the development of its neighborhood for more than 25 years.

A spokeswoman said the building that houses the boutique has been up for sale, but said: “We are not aware that any deal has been signed.” Downplaying rumors that the store would move out of the building, she added that, “This would be the fifth time the building goes through a change in ownership. Every time, the rent contract has been renegotiated and confirmed. We don’t see why it should be any different now.”

Last year, founder Carla Sozzani marked the 25th anniversary of 10 Corso Como, which, in addition to the store, includes a restaurant and café. There is a gallery — an exhibition space that last month saw Pierre Cardin showing his storied furniture during the international Salone del Mobile — and a bookshop, where a book signing was recently held for the “Margiela the Hermès Years” volume, for example.  The boutique carries designs by the likes of Azzedine Alaïa and Junya Watanabe, as well as objects from Alessi. In 2003, Sozzani opened a small hotel with three rooms, aptly called 3 Rooms.

The rumors surrounding the sale of the building come as retailers in general face a challenging moment,  hit by elusive consumers who are increasingly turning to online or eschewing fashion in favor of experiences.  “The store of 10 Corso Como  in Milano is a license of the brand 10 Corso Como given to the company Dieci srl,” said Dieci chief executive officer Donato Maino.

According to the balance sheet that refers to Dieci, which in Italian means 10, last year the company operated at a loss of 293,377 euros, or $323,668 at current exchange and was weighed down by a debt of more than 13 million euros, or $14.3 million. “A negotiation is going on these days to grow the business of Dieci srl,” said Maino, responding to a request for a comment.

Maino clarified that “the Gallery, the bookshop and the restaurant are not part of Dieci srl.” Even in 2011, Sozzani acknowledged to WWD the challenges of the economy, and said “it’s always been difficult.”

Sources close to a number of companies working with 10 Corso Como said they valued being carried by the store and that alleged delays in payments were taken in stride, given the prestige of the location.

To be sure, Sozzani was a pioneer in creating her concept store, which is a tourist  attraction in itself. The venue reflects her ebullient and cheerful disposition, and she often refers to it as a bazaar. Her office brims with books and photos by Man Ray and Helmut Newton, art by American artist Kris Ruhs, and design furniture by Norman Cherner, for example.

The sister of the late Vogue Italia editor in chief Franca Sozzani, Carla started her career in publishing. After a long stint at Vogue Italia, she launched Italian Elle in 1987 before setting out in retailing.

Sozzani has also expanded the brand outside Italy. In 2002, together with Rei Kawakubo, she opened the 10 Corso Como-Comme des Garçons store in Tokyo. Six years later, she unveiled a three-story 10 Corso Como store in Seoul, in a partnership with Samsung Group. There are also units in Shanghai and Beijing.

Meanwhile, 10 Corso Como has inked an agreement with real estate group The Howard Hughes Corp. to open a store in the Seaport District of Manhattan in June. Covering about 13,000 square feet, it will be designed by Ruhs.

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