NEW YORK — Mr & Mrs Italy, which creates luxurious and utilitarian outerwear — no, it’s not an oxymoron — on Thursday will open its first U.S. store, a 1,200-square-foot unit at 779 Madison Avenue.
The brand, which is based in Rimini, Italy — the backdrop for Federico Fellini’s 1960 “La Dolce Vita” — designs military-style parkas with colorful mink patchwork linings and raccoon fur-trimmed hoods. A burgeoning ready-to-wear collection designed by creative director Geraldina Bassani Antivari will also be sold in the new store.
Mr & Mrs Italy opened its first freestanding store in 2014 in Milan. Franchised units followed in Hong Kong; Dalian and Tianjin, China, and Shinsegae Gangnam in Seoul. “We’ve been selling mostly wholesale,” said Andrea Bucalossi, chief executive officer and owner. “New York is the temple of luxury and marks the natural evolution of the brand and its rising profile.
“The city is quite similar to the values of our brand,” Bucalossi added. “It’s a cool city, it’s fast and it has a lot of contrast, very much like the products we sell — the softness of the fur and the hardness of the parka. It makes sense for us to be here.”
Bucalossi estimated the store will do $2.5 million in sales in its first year.
Social media, the modern version of word of mouth, has fueled recognition of Mr & Mrs Italy. “Rihanna bought one of our multicolor fox parkas at Browns in London,” Bucalossi said. Naturally, the company renamed the coat the Rihanna.
Other celebrities that have worn Mr & Mrs Italy include Olivia Palermo and Bella Thorne, Bucalossi said.
“What we really do is identify iconic pieces and transform them into fashionable must-haves with the Italian flair for color and style,” Bucalossi said. “We devote a great deal of effort to traveling the world and finding these pieces.”
The parka comes in several colors of cotton canvas and was inspired by the original military garment, Bucalossi said. “We keep those details, including the same types of pockets and buttons, then we lighten it up and color and insert fur.” And, voila, the parka is fun and trendy.
“We’re now selling a bomber inspired by the aviation jacket used by pilots,” Bucalossi said. “We’ve done the same thing with the trench, which was used by messengers on motorcycles, with buttons that allow the coat to be pinned down so [the hems] don’t get in the way.”
In Manhattan, Mr & Mrs Italy is sold at Barneys New York and Kirna Zabête, among others. “We thought this was a good time to put our toe in the water and test the market,” Bucalossi said. “Madison Avenue is the appropriate location for us.”
The brand’s stores are not “too big. It’s a simple format,” Bucalossi said. “We don’t emphasize the architecture and the fixtures, we don’t buy expensive furniture or hire a high-flying [interior designer]. We emphasize the products. They’re so colorful and rich, they decorate the stores.”
A Configurator option on the brand’s web site lets customers make their own parkas by choosing the shell color, interior fur type and hood trim. They can even put their initials on the jacket, which is delivered in five weeks.
“We started off with a mono product — a winter parka,” Bucalossi said. “Now we have a pretty strong spring-summer season and we do a full range of ready-to-wear items that complete the parka. It was a big challenge for us. We’re moving into a full range of ready-to-wear.”