MILAN — Culti, the Italian design, beauty and spa brand, is readying the unveiling of a flagship in the U.S.

This story first appeared in the June 23, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The brand will open the doors on a 1,000-square-foot store in Chicago in September. Located on Michigan Avenue, the space will showcase all of Culti’s lifestyle categories, which encompass furniture, interior design, clothing, fragrance and beauty products.

Culti’s founder, Alessandro Agrati, said he specifically picked Chicago to springboard Culti’s presence in the U.S. “We believe it is a great, effervescent city to start with,” he said. “Obviously in the future we will roll out to other big American cities. Our showroom will be able to communicate better the Culti world to American customers.”

The Chicago location will mark the fourth company-owned store for the brand, which also has flagships in Milan, Saint Moritz and a shop-in-shop in London’s Harvey Nichols department store.

In addition to the Chicago flagship, Culti also plans to open a 1,500-square-foot store on London’s Sloane Street by yearend. Culti’s global distribution totals 800 points of sale, and in the U.S., there are sales corners in Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman.

Agrati launched Culti almost 20 years ago with home fragrance diffusers. Constructed from a glass flacon containing scent and wooden sticks that disperse the perfume into the air, the diffusers were an instant hit and remain one of Culti’s best-selling products.

Since then, Agrati has built up an Italian-flavored lifestyle concept for the brand that combines fashion, perfume and interiors in what he described as a “project of the senses.”

Culti’s total retail sales hit 7.5 million euros, or $11 million at average exchange, in 2008, a 25 percent increase from 2007. A further 3.5 million euros, or $5.1 million, in Culti’s revenues last year came from interior design contracts.

Culti’s beauty and well-being arm of the business includes eight fragrances, a 30-stockkeeping-unit face and body line called Spa Mareminerali, as well as a Culti flagship spa in Milan.

Culti Day Spa Milano underwent a 2 million euro, or $2.9 million, refurbishment last year in which a men’s spa, a hair spa and beauty and nail area were added to the top floor of the combined 12,000-square-foot space. Downstairs, the spa boasts 15 treatment cabins, a steam bath, sauna and a lounge area. Details of marble and smoked glass are used as decor downstairs, along with light-colored wood and Botticino beige-toned limestone. Signature treatments utilize Culti’s Spa Mareminerali line, which is formulated with thermal water and algae sourced from off of North Britain’s coast.

“We made our Milan spa extraordinary,” said Agrati. “It used to be a car shop.”

Agrati is also developing a new Culti spa concept to be integrated into the brand’s one-year-old hotel — La Sommita Relais Culti Hotel located in Taranto, in the southern Italian province of Puglia. The 2,000-square-foot space is scheduled to open in December.

Culti also plans to expand its spa concepts through collaborations with other hotels, which Agrati said were still in early development stages.

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