MILAN’S NEW RETAIL GEOMETRY
Byline: Luisa Zargani
MILAN — Call it New Math.
The traditional Golden Triangle of high-fashion retailing here, which comprises Via della Spiga, Via Montenapoleone and Via Sant’Andrea, is bursting at the seams. So, with the appetite for luxury goods still ravenous, another side or two are being added to the famous district to accommodate newcomers and the expansions of existing stores.
A lineup of shiny new windows and spotless new logos appeared almost overnight in the district, a symbol of the robust retail scene.
“The opening of a store in such a prestigious location is a sign of good financial health,” said Carlo Pambianco, owner of a luxury goods consulting firm here. “For smaller or new labels, it marks a final seal of approval,” he said.
Andrea Ciccoli, a luxury goods analyst at Bain, Cuneo & Associati, said location is so strategically important that, in some cases, companies will struggle to be where the others are, while still striving to make a profit from the store.
“It’s like being part of an exclusive club, and it is no secret that it’s often a strategic choice rather than a profitable one,” said Ciccoli, adding that the area is small and highly concentrated. “There is a lot of competition. In addition, strong luxury goods groups that have recently added new labels to their stable, are opening stores to develop those brands.”
Here’s a roundup of some of the new and improved stores in the expanding Golden Triangle.
Church & Co.
In line with Patrizio Bertelli’s strategy to rejuvenate the traditional Church label he purchased last year and retool its distribution, the first Church’s store opened in Via Sant’Andrea last month.
Architect Roberto Baciocchi added a modern touch to the store, while maintaining a cozy and comfortable atmosphere reminiscent of English interiors, with carpets, Teak furniture, leather shelves and cocoa-colored leather armchairs. A spokeswoman at Prada Group said the same store concept, which was applied to the Houston boutique that opened in August, will be carried on throughout all new stores.
Diego Della Valle, who has built a $180 million business with his Tod’s, Hogan and Fay labels and is known for his tight control over distribution, opened a new Hogan store on Via Montenapoleone in September, moving it from its original location on Via della Spiga, where it was adjacent to the Tod’s store.
“This is part of the company’s strategy to separate and clearly define its labels,” said a Hogan spokeswoman. “Hogan has its own personality, and we felt it needed its own space, and not be confused with Tod’s.”
The spokeswoman said the company was “extremely pleased” with business. In particular, she said customers were lining up for the brand’s first handbag collection, which retails here from $250 to $600. (Dollar figures are converted from the lire at current exchange rates.)
Hogan will open a store in New York in mid-October and a boutique in Los Angeles in mid-November.
The Tod’s boutique in Via della Spiga closed over the summer and will reopen this week, completely renovated and larger, taking up the former Hogan space.
“We want it [Tod’s] to become Italy’s flagship, selling all divisions, men’s, women’s, children’s footwear and handbags,” said a spokeswoman for the brand. There are 15 Tod’s stores in Italy. Tod’s has added a corner where customers can choose hides and order shoes made to measure, which are ready in six to eight weeks. Both Tod’s and Hogan stores were designed by architect Paolo Giachi.
The Leather Crowd
The ongoing appeal of accessories has driven many other leather goods companies to invest in retailing: Desmo and Pollini renovated their existing stores; Bric’s and Anteprima respectively moved to the Galleria, off Piazza Scala, and to Corso Como; Borbonese opened its first store on Via della Spiga and Casadei on Via Sant’Andrea. Borbonese recently tapped Alessandro Dell’Acqua to develop its apparel and accessories divisions and is focused on developing its business in Europe and the U.S. with branded stores and a new marketing plan.
Cesare Casadei, known for his sleek and feminine footwear, said he had been looking for the right space for a long time and that he was very pleased with the final effect. “It’s open-space with a living-room type of area in cream and golden hues. The furniture is not fixed, and structures can be easily moved around to change at our convenience,” said the designer. Glass, mirrors and marble add to a sense of light and airiness. The U.S. accounts for around 25 percent of the company’s sales. The line is available at Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman, and Barneys New York. Shoes retail between $300 and $1,000.
In terms of interior decoration, most stores are furnished along the same lines as Casadei, with luminous, airy and flexible spaces, light colors, often contrasting with dark wood, and furniture that can be easily and frequently repositioned.
Through Roberto Cavalli’s windows on Via della Spiga, strollers notice an ice-white marble staircase connecting the two levels, Plexiglas and steel fixtures, mother-of-pearl reflections on gray and silver-colored wood furniture. “It was all conceived to contrast and exalt the impact of my clothes,” said Cavalli, known for his colorful and flamboyant designs. Cavalli will open a store in Rome next month and one in Los Angeles by the end of June.
LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, which purchased a 67 percent stake in Emilio Pucci this year, was set to open a Pucci store in Via Montenapoleone on Sunday night.
Just a few windows away from Casadei, on Via Sant’Andrea, Giorgio Armani reopened his 1983 boutique after extensive renovation by architect Claudio Silvestrin, who also worked on the redesign of Armani’s Paris Boutique in Place Vendome.
The store’s main feature is a soft and compact, cream-colored French stone called St. Maximin, which is also on the extended entrance and the facade of the building. The stone contrasts with furniture in a dark Macassar ebony, while handles and fixtures are in oxidized brass.
Entrance lights dimly focus on a small mirror of running water over a paved stone area. A glass divider overlooks the stairwell that leads to the lower level and the men’s wear department. The boutique is 8,200 square feet.
“I’m always looking to create an environment where the store architecture supports the presentation of the collections in a way that is modern and accessible for our customers. Via Sant’Andrea is an example of this philosophy,” said the designer. The boutique carries the Giorgio Armani collections for men and women, the Giorgio Armani Classico Collection, and a full range of accessories for men and women.
Armani is also putting a new spin on Via Manzoni, a central street connected to Via della Spiga, where he plans to open a 65,000-square-foot megastore this week, which will house Emporio Armani, Armani Jeans, his new home collection — Armani Casa — two restaurants, a bookstore and a Sony store. Last year, the designer spent $62.5 million on this store.
Via Manzoni is gradually turning into the up-and-coming hot shopping street, with new stores such as Hilton Vestimenta, Patrizia Pepe, and Mila Schon, which will open at the end of the month. The new Mila Schon store will be an addition to the existing boutique on Via Montenapoleone.
“I believe in the growing importance of Via Manzoni as the new fashion street,” said Fabrizio Jorio Fili, managing director at Mila Schon. “We had been looking for a new location for a while and we were lucky to find the right one in the right place,” he said. Mariella Burani Fashion Group, which purchased Mila Schon last year, is focusing on distribution and retailing. There are currently two boutiques in Milan, one in Florence and one in Rome.
“We are working on a new store concept, with light wood and brushed metals,” said Jorio Fili. In addition to the Milan boutique, Mila Schon opened a store in Moscow in September, adjacent to a Mariella Burani store.
“Via Manzoni is part of the trend to develop streets adjacent to the traditional fashion triangle,” said Ciccoli. “The street is definitely increasing its visibility.”