After opening its first American store in fall ’11, the Russia-based, made-in-Italy label has debuted 10 additional doors across the country, with more to come this year.
“Based on the results we’ve seen and the [anticipated] growth, we have high expectations,” said Sheryl Bloom, CEO of Carlo Pazolini USA. “The brand is looking very aggressively to expand.”
Carlo Pazolini launched in 1990 and now has 231 branded locations worldwide, 171 in Russia alone. The line includes men’s and women’s footwear retailing from $175 to $500, as well as handbags.
Bloom, who joined the company in late 2011 to spearhead stateside growth, said she’s confident the U.S. will become one of its biggest markets. In 2013, five stores are set to open domestically, but Bloom expects that number to grow annually.
New York, in particular, has become an important location for Carlo Pazolini. The brand’s first U.S. store is in Roosevelt Field Mall in Garden City, N.Y., and a flagship opened in late 2011 on Broadway in Soho. A Meatpacking District location in Manhattan is confirmed for this year.
“New York is still the fashion capital [in the U.S.] and that’s a logical place to start,” Bloom said, adding that business has been stronger in New York than other American regions.
“It’s cost effective for brand building to focus on New York,” she added, citing traffic volume as a main factor. “It’s more productive initially to get the name out and expand there.”
While growth is key for Carlo Pazolini, Bloom said wholesaling is not part of the plan.
“It’s always a possibility, but it’s not on the radar right now because of the opportunities we have with our own stores,” she said.
According to the executive, one of the biggest advantages of its retail strategy is the ability to create exclusivity because customers can only get Carlo Pazolini product at branded stores. The brand also can customize its assortment with mass product that is constantly changing. Between 500 and 700 SKUs are available per store with only one to two size runs in each style. “We have very small quantities of varying product so it’s always fresh and new,” Bloom said.
But, she admitted, there are challenges to working strictly with branded retail, such as finding the right space at the right price.
“The company has aggressive rollout plans, but because the concept is new, it takes time to build a relationship with better malls,” Bloom said. “And on street locations, the challenge is finding the right size in the right location — not too big and not too small.”
Moving forward, Carlo Pazolini is focused on growing in other parts of the world, too. Europe — particularly London — is an immediate target, while China is next on the list.
“We want to have a brand with a worldwide presence,” Bloom said.