TAKING CARE: Care Label, the denim brand launched in 2007 by Leopoldo Durante and Enrico Gallo in partnership with Lapo Elkann, opened its first flagship Friday in Milan, tucked in a quiet courtyard on Corso Venezia that is also the location of Italia Independent Group’s new headquarters.

Steps away from all the trendy eyewear, racks of women’s and men’s denim line the walls in a minimalist, largely black-and-white décor with touches of Canadian Birchwood, leather and copper, the latter reminiscent of the buttons and rivets on jeans. Stretches of fabric were also on display for clients interested in custom orders.

“The majority of the materials we use are made especially for our brand, and they’re all totally made in Italy,” with the exception of a select few fabrics from Japan, noted Durante, who is creative director.

The fall women’s lineup, which counts an estimated 70 to 80 pieces – mostly denim trousers, with a selection of shirts and T-shirts mixed in – follows the same low-key-but-high-quality brand philosophy of the men’s collection. Care Label tapped denim design veteran Augusto Romano for the occasion.

Care Label jeans feature special labels on the back pockets that fade with wear, slowing revealing the brand name underneath.

Durante also highlighted two pieces from the capsule collection with Italia Independent: the cigar 138 model in the “I-I Blue Line” and “I-I Black Line” variations.

Care Label general manager Enrico Gallo said the brand’s distribution network is rapidly expanding, with 250 sales points in Italy and another 250 throughout Europe. Some sixty percent of turnover stems from exports. Japan is a key market, and last year Care Label teamed up with Tomoki Sukezane, a popular stylist there, for a capsule. Other strategic regions outside Italy include Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Benelux and Scandinavia.

Next on the agenda: the U.S., where Gallo said the brand is seeking the right distribution partner. While at present 80 percent of Care Label’s clothes are for men, Gallo said “in reality we expect tremendous growth to come from the women’s” segment.”

“We’d like to get to a 50-50 split between men’s and women’s wear,” he said.

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