FIORUCCI PLANS FLAGSHIP IN MANHATTAN

Byline: Melanie Kletter

NEW YORK — Fiorucci, which has had a difficult time in the department store channel, is preparing to open its own 25,000-square-foot store here.
The junior sportswear and denim firm, based in Milan, is in the final stages of negotiations for a signature shop in NoHo scheduled to open in time for Christmas, Stephen Budd, president of Fiorucci North America, disclosed to WWD this week.
Budd declined to give the exact location since negotiations are still being finalized, but sources said the store will be located on Broadway near Urban Outfitters. The store will be part of a larger strategy to reinvigorate the brand in the junior category.
“We are opening the store to build the brand,” Budd said. “The product mix will be very edgy and fun.”
About 20 percent of the NoHo store will consist of Fiorucci’s own label, and the rest will be other brands, many of which will be similar to resources in the existing Fiorucci stores in Italy. In addition to apparel, the store will include accessories, shoes and a home section.
The NoHo store is being designed by the Italian parent company in conjunction with a New York-based architecture firm.
The Italian label, which targets women aged 15 to 25, made a name for itself in the Seventies with trendy sportswear and tight jeans. It dropped out of the U.S. market in the early Eighties, and then returned to the U.S. about three years ago through licensed products.
Budd, through his company Bennini Inc., obtained the North America rights to Fiorucci in 1997. Bennini had originally shipped Fiorucci to department stores, but demand for the product was weak in that channel, and now the brand is only sold in small boutiques.
“Our brand and lifestyle were hard to present out of a little pad in Macy’s,” Budd said.
Budd had opened a test store last spring at the Westchester Mall in White Plains, but it closed two months ago.
“Having a location in a mall was not perceived as edgy and fun,” Budd said. “It was actually hurting my efforts to relaunch the brand.”
Budd said his company is now in partnership with the parent firm to develop the brand further in North America. In addition to the store, he is also overseeing the development of a new global Web site.
Fiorucci, based in Milan, now operates eight stores in Italy, including three megastores. The firm is in the process of opening 26 new units this year, in addition to the NoHo unit, according to Budd.

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