GIUSEPPE ZANOTTI

NEW YORK — Italian accessories designer Giuseppe Zanotti has landed on American shores with a new boutique on Madison Avenue.

The tiny store, the company’s first in the U.S., is located between East 68th and 69th Streets and showcases the range of Zanotti’s offerings, which include shoes, handbags, scarves and gloves.

“We owe a lot to the American market,” said Zanotti, who flew into town recently for the store opening. “Outside of Italy, this is where we have found the most understanding customers.”

The New York boutique, which includes the company’s Vicini and Giuseppe Zanotti Design brands, is only the second retail shop outside of the firm’s Milan store.

The 44-year-old designer’s shoes have been embraced by many starlets and celebrities, including Jennifer Lopez, Courtney Love and Cindy Crawford. The products are sold in Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue among other locations.

Prices range from about $145 for a key chain up to $900 for python boots, with handbags carrying prices of between $300 to $650.

FURLA

BEVERLY HILLS — After an absence of more than a decade, Furla opened a retail store on Rodeo Drive in a new design concept company executives hope will generate more interest in the 75-year-old Italian accessories brand.

The new 1,000-square-foot boutique at 441 North Rodeo Drive opened on Feb. 22 and is the most recent addition in a plan to open 30 stores in the U.S. within the next three years. The company used to have a store on Rodeo Drive, which closed about 10 years ago.

Although there are more than 115 stores worldwide, the Rodeo Drive store marks only the seventh location in North America. An eighth unit in Tampa, Fla., is slated to open this month.

Stacked up against other luxury brands, such as Gucci or Prada, Furla is not a well-known brand in the U.S. But Giovanna Furlanetto, a third-generation family member and president and ceo of the privately held firm based in Bologna, Italy, said she is not deterred.

“We think we know enough of the American market to approach this expansion,” she said, noting that watching the brand’s strong performance in the company’s two New York shops and units in Boca Raton, Fla., and Seattle led her to consider an expansion. “We first tried to learn as much as possible. Now we think we are ready.

“The U.S. market is as important as the Far East market for us,” she continued. “Right now the U.S. is similar to the weight of the Far East. There is still terrific unexpressed potential.” Wholesale accounts include Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus and Bloomingdale’s.

English architects Kosker Moore and Kent conceived the store in a minimalist design with an expansive glass facade, slate gray concrete flooring and wood-and-glass display cases.

Among the items on display are the company’s new shoe collection, which features sandals, sabots, pumps, high heels and flats in yellow, red, black and white. Colors in handbags, some of which resemble hat boxes, include light blue, sunshine yellow, cameo pink and bright red.

Daniel Bordini, president of Furla’s U.S. division, conceded brand recognition “has to increase” but believes the brand’s “affordable” price point strikes the right note with consumers. Average retail prices for handbags are about $300.

“It’s an alternative to the established brands,” he said.

Bordini expects the stores’ revenues to reach $1.5 million within the next year and $3 million within the next three years. The company’s wholesale revenues topped $100 million last year.

Meanwhile, the downturn in the luxury sector doesn’t seem to be a concern. “‘We are distributed all over the world,” said Furlanetto. “If one market goes into trouble and if you are distributed in a well-balanced way, you can afford it.”

As part of the expansion, Furla opened retail locations in Dallas, Palo Alto, Calif., and Vancouver, British Columbia, in early December. Furla also operates two outlet stores in Woodbury, N.Y., and Cabazon, Calif.

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