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The Italian luxury brand Frette plans to launch a contemporary subbrand called Edmond Frette this fall aimed at a more youthful customer.

This story first appeared in the April 27, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The 151-year-old Frette got a jump start when it opened the first Edmond Frette boutique at the Westfield Mall in London on April 10. The 2,000-square-foot store features a preview sampling of merchandise, from printed and solid Egyptian cotton bed sets meant to be mixed and matched, to robes, nightwear and home accessories for men and women. Sales are projected at $1,000 a square foot, said Paul Raffin, Frette’s global chief executive officer.

“We expect the Edmond collection will represent 15 percent of the company’s total business within one year,” Raffin said. “We also expect the ready-to-wear classification for all Frette segments, including both Frette and Edmond Frette, to represent 15 percent of total business in a one- to two-year period.”

Raffin oversees all operations of the upscale linens, home accessories and apparel retail and wholesale businesses, which generate combined annual sales in excess of $100 million, according to industry estimates.
Explaining the rationale for launching a brand during a global recession, Raffin said, “If a customer is nervous about making an investment, she can feel comfortable spending to freshen up an environment that offers versatility and is designed the way she wants it to be. Edmond Frette offers accessibility with embedded value. The quality is the same as Frette, as we use the same Egyptian cotton yarns. We are also looking to extend the rtw component.”

The company wants to capture a younger, hipper customer who prefers a modern home environment with a sophisticated twist. Bedding, apparel and accessories by Edmond Frette are one-third the price of Frette merchandise, with bed sets retailing for $500, and at-homewear, robes and nightwear for men and women starting at about $70 to $400. Sizes for men and women are S, M and L.

“Edmond Frette is a different approach, much more relaxed, fun and contemporary,” said Scott Formby, creative director at Frette.

Apparel fabrics include viscose knits, linens, Swiss dot voile, Italian poplins and several cotton variations of knits, broadcloth and voile, Formby said. Signature styles include classic unisex pajamas, knit layering pieces and at-homewear sweaters.

Regarding plans for additional Edmond Frette shops, Raffin said, “This fall, we plan to convert a number of Italian Frette stores into Edmond Frette stores, 10 or 12 out of a 48-unit chain in Italy, and probably two out of 12 in the U.S.”

He said the company expects to sell the Edmond Frette collection in 65 company-owned stores worldwide and more than 60 in-store shops such as Lane Crawford in Hong Kong, which will open four Edmond Frette shop environments in September.

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