FRETTE’S FOCUS: LUXE AT HOME

Byline: Karyn Monget

NEW YORK — Frette, the upscale at-homewear, linen and home accessories unit of Italian apparel giant Gruppo Fin.part, believes global consumers need a lot of tender loving care at home.
Since the Milan-based parent took over the Frette business in 1998, a main goal has been to expand awareness of luxury goods for the home, whether it’s a semisheer cashmere-and-silk crepon lounge set and mink-lined mules for the boudoir, or a handwoven matelasse silk throw for those chilly nights in the Hamptons or Aspen.
Cristina Azario, Frette’s creative director, recently gave a spring-summer 2002 presentation of a variety of lifestyle options for city and country homes, as well as items that “take a little bit of your own home with you while traveling,” like a lavender-scented eye pillow, a travel candle in a sterling silver votive ensconced in miniature leather tote and soft silver leather ballet slippers in a coordinating zip pouch.
“I think there definitely now is a stronger trend among consumers to spend more for the home, to be with people at home, and especially in New York, a trend of entertaining more at home,” said Azario, as she displayed a new spa collection of white cotton terry for men and women at the Frette showroom and offices here.
Entitled “Silk Road,” the color palette of Frette’s lifestyle statement is a mix of rich yet subdued hues inspired by nature, the culture of China and the Art Deco-chinoiserie motifs of the 1920s. Key colors are wicker, bamboo, anthracite gray, aquamarine, willow, citrus green, salmon pink, antique gold, white and ivory. The at-homewear also is rendered in solid navy and black.
Gianluigi Facchini, president and chief executive officer of Gruppo Fin.part, said the company plans to expand product assortments into lingerie and foundations.
Regarding the demand for products that add comfort and a certain cachet to the home, Facchini said, “We’ve noticed there’s been an acceleration worldwide over the past two-and-a-half years. Especially now, after Sept. 11, whenever things are uncertain, people go back to traditional values and what they feel safe about.”
Meanwhile, Facchini sad the company has been aggressively expanding its network of Frette boutiques.
“We have eight freestanding shops in the U.S., 40 shops in Italy, 15 others throughout Europe, six in-store shops in Taiwan and five in Hong Kong and several in mainland China, and we plan to open a few in Japan,” he said. “Business in the U.S. is up between 20 and 25 percent over a year ago. Totally, our combined retail and wholesale businesses in the U.S., which includes our spa line and linens for hotels, will be in excess of $30 million this year.”