Byline: Eric Wilson

NEW YORK — In the home furnishings world, duvets have been one of the most successful imports from Europe in the past decade.
Now a French coat manufacturer is hoping to attract American consumers to a similarly styled product in outerwear departments with the U.S. launch of Moncler.
The company, which was acquired in 1998 by Fin.part, an Italian manufacturing group that also owns Frette, Henry Cotton’s, Maska and Marina Yachting, will bow in the U.S. with fall retail of men’s and women’s coats along with the women’s sportswear division of Henry Cotton’s.
The company experienced a particularly strong retail season in 1999 with Moncler in Europe, where erratic weather patterns over the winter helped its technical pieces to become bestsellers, cited by stores from Le Bon Marche and Printemps in Paris to specialty boutiques in Milan.
Named after Monestier de Clermont, a small town in France, Moncler was formed after World War II as a technical outerwear company for sporting enthusiasts. The firm has provided equipment for an Italian expedition to Karakorum in 1954, a French trek to Makalu in 1955 and the Alpine Ski French National Team since 1968.
Its signature styles feature technical nylon fabrics in quilted silhouettes, similar to popular “puffer” jackets here, only made in slimmer silhouettes. They are filled with lightweight down or polyester blends spaced to closely resemble duvets.
Louis of Boston, Nordstrom and Henry Lehr are among the first U.S. retail accounts to pick up the line.
With the U.S. launch, the company also introduced several fashion-driven styles as well as sportswear pieces, including duvet miniskirts, pants and a halter top.
Among the fashion pieces, there are a khaki storm-system quilted cashmere coat developed in conjunction with Loro Piana, orange silk velvet coats, soft napa leather versions, fitted fur-trimmed ski jackets and a satin nylon coat cut on the bias.
Women’s coats range from $135 to $600 at wholesale, with an average price point at $153. Sweaters are priced from $89 to $125, and pants and skirts range from $50 to $85.
“The entire collection is lightweight and comfortable, and it still transfers a sense of warmth,” said Gianluigi Faccini, chief executive officer of Fin.part.
In the U.S., Arthur Cooke was also hired this year as vice president and group creative director for Frette, Henry Cotton’s and Moncler coats at Frette Inc.