Intimissimi has big plans for the U.S.

The intimate apparel line, which is owned by the Calzedonia Group, opened its first U.S. store last year at the Garden State Plaza mall in Paramus, New Jersey, and introduced its second location at Roosevelt Field Mall on Long Island in March. This July it will open a Fifth Avenue flagship that will carry product from Intimissimi and its sister brand Calzedonia, which sells socks, hosiery and swimwear.

“The biggest challenge in the U.S. is to be perceived as unique,” said Marcello Veronesi, country manager for Calzedonia USA. “This is a huge country and every single player is here. We need to be perceived as different from the others.”

According to Veronesi, Intimissimi is priced similarly to Victoria’s Secret but is mostly Italian made and more fashion forward — they deliver new fashion collections in store each week. While Intimissimi’s retail footprint is larger — they have around 4,200 stores globally and Victoria’s Secret’s has around 1,100 — the stores are much smaller with more of a boutique feel. Around 70 percent of these stores are run through franchise partnerships.

“We don’t have a huge assortment,” said Veronesi. “We don’t pretend to be luxury nor do we align ourselves with Primark or H&M.”

Intimissimi, which was launched in 1996, is known for corsets, nightwear and pieces made from organic cotton, sea cotton and cashmere. Veronesi said 90 percent of the collection is the same globally, but they are experimenting with different colors and sizes in the U.S. The brand doesn’t have any wholesale partnerships. Along with staking their claim in the U.S., they have invested in stores in Hong Kong and Japan.

“We were missing a few big accounts in China and the U.S.,” said Veronesi. “Also, mall developers were very interested in offering space to a European brand.”

Veronesi said the goal is to have 30 stores in the U.S. by 2018 located in malls and high traffic strips in key cities such as Chicago’s Magnificent Mile and Lincoln Road in Miami.

In terms of marketing, Veronesi said Intimissimi will invest in a bigger campaign and continue its relationships with Julia Roberts, who is the face of Calzedonia, Rita Ora, who fronts campaigns for Tezenis, its underwear line for Millennials, and Irina Shayk, who stars in Intimissimi’s campaigns. This year its annual Intimissimi on Ice event — the company’s answer to the Victoria’s Secret runway show — will be held in Italy, but they are considering bringing it to the U.S. down the line.

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