NEW YORK — Furla is upping the ante at retail.
Seeking to redefine its brand image, the 79-year-old Bologna, Italy-based leather goods firm is redesigning many of its stores and increasing the number of U.S. boutiques to 40 from 22 by next year.
The retail rollout comes on the heels of the company’s new advertising campaign, which bowed in consumer magazines in February and stars the women who work for Furla. While maintaining its Italian heritage and core middle-age customer, the company is also introducing inventive leather satchels and small leather goods — like a coin purse in the shape of a koi fish — to appeal to a younger shopper.
The first store in the U.S. featuring the new concept is at 727 Madison Avenue here. It had a soft opening late last month.
The airy, light-filled design of the 900-square-foot boutique is based on fixtures, from the wallpaper to the display cases, which can change and move in order to create a more fluid feeling. The walls are covered with printed scrims lighted from behind. They will be updated each season to coordinate with the merchandise. Multiple clear Plexiglas trolleys on wheels line the walls and serve as shelves to display handbags and small leather goods. A long, rectangular clear Plexiglas table stretches through the store’s nave, offering jewelry, wallets and other goods. Shoes and additional handbags are displayed in the rear.
Prices range from $50 for a fashion bracelet to $600 for a large leather day bag.
“It’s very much about flexibility, transparency and lightness,” Carol DiMaio-Lucas, managing director for Furla USA, said of the store concept. “It’s moveable, as opposed to static.”
The concept was launched in Verona, Italy, in fall 2005 and is being implemented in boutiques in Paris, Madrid, St. Petersburg and Shanghai. Furla has 200 international company boutiques.
The family-owned company plans to open an additional eight U.S. stores this year and 10 in 2007, with locations including Philadelphia, San Francisco, San Jose, Calif.; Charleston, S.C., and Honolulu. Furla will also open a second location in Chicago. The stores will be designed in the new concept. Some of the firm’s 22 U.S. stores also will be redesigned starting this year.
Furla’s plan is threefold, DiMaio-Lucas said.
“The strategic plan of Furla is to significantly increase turnover worldwide by leveraging the Made in Italy brand equity, a range of lifestyle products in the affordable luxury price range and a network of distribution in the most prestigious locations,” she said.