ARMANI WEAVES BIGGER WEB

Byline: Luisa Zargani

MILAN — A click will soon provide full immersion into Giorgio Armani’s world.
The designer will launch giorgioarmani.com next week, a Web site that encompasses photos of Armani’s latest collections and ad campaigns, the designer’s personal background, a corporate profile, press releases and detailed information on company-related events.
The site is a virtual sensory trip through five separate lifestyles. Under the Giorgio Armani umbrella, the company has created individual addresses and links to the designer’s other lines: armanicollezioni.com, emporioarmani.com, armanijeans.com and armaniexchange .com, a site first launched in 1995, which has been selling online in the U.S. since last October.
Previewed to the press Thursday, the site’s sleek design and eye-catching photos reflect the designer’s taste and understated point of view.
“I am approaching the launch of this Web site with the same attention to detail and the same commitment as when I open a new boutique,” said Armani.
“This is our virtual store,” Armani continued, “and it has been designed to take advantage of all the benefits that the Internet now offers in terms of communication and commerce. The World Wide Web is now a critical component in all our decision-making for the future.”
Planned in collaboration with Web design firm Razorfish Inc., the site contains different music for each line, flash technology and streaming video. The design is modern, the site is easy to navigate, and images are quickly called up.
Although Robert Triefus, Armani’s corporate vice president of communications, declined to disclose how much the company invested in this project, a team has been hired that’s solely dedicated to the Internet infrastructure both in Milan and New York.
“Highly specialized experts are a must in this sector,” said Triefus, who emphasized the importance of a strong image and the continuous updating and evolution of the site, which has Italian- and English-language versions. Triefus said the company had been working on the site for the past year.
Triefus said the site was designed as a complement to its existing retail network.
“We believe our boutique customers are the ones who will approach our site,” he said, adding that it will also help develop a sense of community with customers.
“The Internet is the future of communication. Two months ago, we had a coming-soon page and 16,000 people wrote to us requesting information,” he said.
Before leaping into e-commerce with other lines, Triefus said the company planned to continue testing sales of Armani Exchange products online until the end of the year.
“E-commerce consumers are generally younger, don’t need to touch and feel the product as much as those who are buying our signature line — which is on another price level — and Americans are usually more used to shopping online. That’s why A|X seemed to fit the description for a test.”
Although Triefus declined to disclose sales figures derived from A|X sales online, he said each customer usually spends more than $100 per purchase and that many are university students who live far from cities where A|X stores are located. Triefus also said the company needs to create an efficient distribution service for each continent before further developing the e-commerce business.
“This site proves our commitment to Internet, and we will probably sell Emporio perfumes and accessories next year,” said Triefus.
The site offers complete information and photos of all Armani boutiques in the world, celebrities dressed by Armani and movies outfitted by the designer. It highlights events such as Armani’s sponsorship of Ricky Martin’s concert tour and the Solomon Guggenheim New York exhibition, which marks the designer’s 25th anniversary. The site also offers advice on hot spots, restaurants, shops, markets and recipes.
“We don’t want to show only images, but offer content, so that people will want to come back,” said Triefus.

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