MILAN — Woolrich is setting the foundations for expansion in the U.S.
The outerwear company, which recently passed under the control of L-Gam, a Luxembourg-based investment firm backed by the princely family of Liechtenstein, is gearing up to open a showroom on New York’s Varick Street and a new flagship in the heart of SoHo, on Wooster Street. The first is slated to open in January, while the latter will be inaugurated in February during New York Fashion Week.
According to Rita Capasa, the brand’s general manager for North America, the United States accounts for 18 percent of the business of Woolrich, which was previously controlled by WP Lavori in Corso. Last month, the Italian fashion company sold the totality of its stakes to L-Gam, while Woolrich’s Japanese partner Goldwin increased its investment in the brand to control 20 percent of the company. Incidentally, Capasa is the sister of Carlo and Ennio Capasa, the head of Italy’s Camera Nazionale della Moda and the founder of the Costume National brand, respectively.
“L-Gam aims to create a solid internal organization to boost our international business,” said Woolrich creative brand director Andrea Canè. “The final goal is to generate a turnover of $350 million and become a public company in five years.” In 2017, Woolrich posted revenues of $205 million.
Asia, where the company will operate through a venture with Goldwin focused on expanding the brand’s presence in the market beginning in Korea, and especially the U.S., will be key to accomplishing the ambitious mission.
“We are putting a lot of effort in making our collections look more appealing for the North American market,” said Canè, highlighting that the company has hired New York-based stylist Mel Ottenberg, who is the man behind Rihanna’s most acclaimed looks, as a fashion consultant.
According to Canè, the fall 2019 collection will reveal the new course of the company, which has also streamlined its internal organization, closing several licensees in the U.S. The firm, which in the past operated several lines, offers only the Woolrich premium urban line and the Woolrich Outdoor Label, a more technical range distributed by Goldwin.
“We work with New York’s prestigious independent design firm Pentagram to create a new logo for Woolrich — a square with our signature Buffalo plaid,” said Cané, adding that Woolrich Outdoor Label will be defined by a different logo showing the silhouette of a sheep.
According to Cané, the brand’s vision will be fully on show in the New York flagship, which will replace the boutique at 125 Wooster Street. The 4,575-square-foot space will feature interiors with modular structures, enabling it to constantly reinvent the location and host various activities.
The flagship will also have an area dedicated to the brand’s archival pieces, which will be on sale at the store. “Customers will be able to customize the vintage styles and we will create an app for people to share details about their Woolrich pieces, sell and exchange them,” Cané explained.
In addition, the New York store will display a selection of shirts showing archival plaid patterns, as well as the footwear line designed in collaboration with Search N Design, the Italian design studio behind the shoes of international labels, including Fear of God and Buscemi.
Following the successful collaborations with Lauryn Hill and Aimé Leon Dore, Woolrich has teamed with Drake to create a capsule of blankets, overshirts, slippers and pillows, all exclusively available at the Canadian rapper’s October’s Very Own — OVO stores.
Woolrich, which operates 32 stores in the world, including units in Milan, Tokyo, Toronto and London, will also unveil a capsule designed by Jeff Griffin at the upcoming edition of international men’s trade show Pitti Uomo.