A look from the Caro Cuore Web site.

CHICAGO — Argentina-based lingerie retailer Caro Cuore opened its first American retail outlet late last month at the Woodfield Shopping Center in Schaumburg, Ill., a northwest Chicago suburb.<br><br>Executives from the high-end lingerie company...

CHICAGO — Argentina-based lingerie retailer Caro Cuore opened its first American retail outlet late last month at the Woodfield Shopping Center in Schaumburg, Ill., a northwest Chicago suburb.

This story first appeared in the January 5, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Executives from the high-end lingerie company said the launch is part of a U.S. expansion that includes 2004 store openings planned for Chicago’s North Michigan Avenue and sites in Los Angeles and Miami.

Adolfo Drescher, Caro Cuore founder and president, said it was a big moment for the firm “to introduce Caro Cuore to Chicagoland and the United States.”

Gonzalo Pavia, managing director of U.S. operations, said the company was looking for a city in middle America to introduce its products.

“Chicago is a very cosmopolitan and traditional city,” Pavia said. “The demographics were very attractive to us. They are people who appreciate quality, innovation and style.”

Woodfield Shopping Center, in particular, is Illinois’ top tourist destination, attracting more than 27 million people.

Caro Cuore, which boasts annual sales of $30 million, said initial sales at its first 1,500-square-foot American store are better than expected, although specific sales estimates were not available. Of its annual sales, 80 percent is generated in Argentina, where the company is one of the top-selling lingerie lines.

Meaning “sweet heart” in Italian, Caro Cuore operates a total of 72 stores in 15 countries throughout South America, Europe and the Middle East, with prices ranging from $12.90 for cotton bikini underwear to $295.90 for the “Moulin Rouge” corset with tulle and French lace edging. At the Woodfield location, bras average $50 and panties average $25.

Pavia expects Caro Cuore’s fabrics and innovation will stand out from its American competitors.

“The main difference is the aesthetic,” he said. “We’re not necessarily a sexy product. We focus on freshness, sensuality, comfort and design. The idea behind this is to make a woman’s inner beauty shine.”

Rosita Drescher, founder and co-owner, said, “Our designers try to create products that speak to a woman’s sense of inner beauty and personal comfort.”

In turn, the company uses tulle, lace, cotton and often a high percentage of Lycra spandex for comfort and better wear. The Caro Cuore bra, for example, contains 80 percent nylon or Lycra and 20 percent cotton.

The company plans to launch at least one product line, including some limited editions such as Moulin Rouge, each month for the next six to seven months in its U.S. store. Caro Cuore’s product line includes girl’s and women’s underwear, lingerie, socks, slippers and stockings, as well as women’s sports apparel and men’s underwear.

The Woodfield store, located on the shopping center’s ground level across from Marshall Field’s, mirrors the modern look of other Caro Cuore retail outlets. White built-in display cabinets with red accents line the walls, showcasing products on hangers and below in the brand’s signature red boxes.