Appeared In
Special Issue
Men'sWeek issue 07/14/2011

Canali is forging new territory, leaving its longtime home in Midtown Manhattan for a new, larger space in the Meatpacking District.

This story first appeared in the July 14, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The Italian luxury brand spent $10.6 million in the spring of 2009 to purchase two floors at 415 West 13th Street and moved in at the end of June. The spring samples have just arrived from Italy and the company is now meeting retailers to show the line in its new home.

“The idea,” said Giorgio Canali, president of the North American operation, “is to create a new environment based on our Milan showroom. It’s the same concept — one large open space — to showcase the collection in a more complete way.”

In the company’s former headquarters on Fifth Avenue and 56th Street, collections were shown in separate rooms.

The new space, which is above an AllSaints store off Ninth Avenue, is close to 11,000 square feet. A 4,000-square-foot lower level is being used as a cafeteria for buyers and employees as well as for clients. The Fifth Avenue space was less than 9,000 square feet. “Out lease was up and it was time to redesign the showroom,” Canali said. “We were looking for bigger space and it made sense to make the investment if we could find the right location.” He said the trendy Meatpacking District fit the bill.

The substantial investment in the showroom also indicates Canali’s commitment to the U.S. market, Canali said. The U.S. is currently the company’s largest market, representing around 35 percent of its overall sales which were nearly $270 million in 2009, its 75th anniversary. The privately held company does not traditionally provide figures.

Canali recently added Paul Buckter, a 33-year retail veteran whose pedigree includes Barneys New York, Bloomingdale’s and the retail divisions of Hugo Boss and Escada, as its new North American wholesale director. “We wanted to create a stronger structure in New York,” Canali said, noting that he has historically spent half his time in New York and half in Milan. “We want to have someone steady here and we want to make sure we serve our customers more.”

Canali said that current business is good and “getting better. The last three years have been challenging, but we see improvement. Sales for spring ’11 showed a nice increase over spring ’10. The customers are back in the stores.”

He noted that in addition to North America, the company also sees enormous growth potential in Asia. China, he revealed, will grow to represent the company’s second largest market by the end of the year. Through partners, Canali operates close to 60 stores now and growth there is faster than in more developed areas. There are also six freestanding stores in India, also operated under franchise, with more to come.

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