The space houses an archival selection of the brand’s reflective jackets, as well as a small selling area dedicated to the fall collection. Covering about 3,767 square feet, it is located on Greene Street in SoHo.
“With this project I’m not really interested in selling clothes but the goal is telling the story of the company and growing the brand awareness among people in the United States,” said Stone Island president Carlo Rivetti. “The people entering the venue are all surprised. They like the products on display, they are interested in learning who we are and what we do, which means I see good prospects for the business.”
New York also represents a gamble for the entrepreneur, who always pointed to Los Angeles as the best destination to start the company’s American adventure.
“The idea was to kick off with a unit in Los Angeles where we have already found a lot [of sites], but they still have to construct the building, it will take a while and I didn’t want to wait too long also to capitalize on the visibility we received in the country with the collaboration with Supreme,” Rivetti explained of the global co-branding project launched in October 2014.
On the West Coast, the company will use the same strategy embraced in New York, starting with an exhibition and then setting up a real store.
“I told our architect that, both in New York and Los Angeles, I want stores to project the brand more than to showcase seasonal products,” Rivetti said. “Different from the ones in Europe, all the boutiques in the States will have a big exhibition space with archive pieces.”
Stone Island sells its collection in about 50 multibrand stores across the U.S. and Canada. “This year the business [in those countries] declined a bit, but I’m happy because we cleaned up the distribution,” said Rivetti, who also revealed that his goal is to generate revenues of about 30 million euros, or $32.2 million at current exchange rate, in two years in North America. “I’d like this market, with current revenues of one million euros [or $1.07 million] to account for a third of our whole business.”
Stone Island is expected to close 2015 with global revenues of 87.1 million euros, or $93.15 million, up 10 percent compared to 2014. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization are expected to total 13 million euros, or $13.9 million.
According to Rivetti, selling online also offers good possibilities for growth in the States. “The U.S. is the third market in terms of sales online, following Italy and Germany,” he said.
In addition to expanding in the U.S., Stone Island is performing very well in its traditional markets, which include Italy, the U.K., Germany, Holland and Korea, he said.
The spring 2016 collection just closed with a 19.2 percent increase in sales compared to the last fall season.
“The spring/summer business currently accounts for 42 percent of our business and we registered growth across all the categories, including knitwear, polo shirts and swimwear,” Rivetti said.
Since the end of 2014, the company has opened boutiques in Antwerp, Amsterdam, Turin and Hamburg. It also relocated its store in Rome.
The company’s retail business rose 12 percent compared to the previous year, while the online store, which accounts for 3 percent of the total business, posted a 25 percent increase in sales compared to 2014.