Casadei Accelerates Expansion

NEW YORK — To become a more formidable luxury player, Casadei is making major moves.

The 56-year-old brand is forging ahead with global retail expansion and a push into the burgeoning upscale men’s market.

According to Cesare Casadei, creative director for his family’s Milan-based line, the label will open four branded stores in Baku, Azerbaijan; Manila, Philippines; and Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine; and Shanghai this year. From there, Casadei will focus on expanding in Hong Kong and other parts of China.

“It is time to start planning for bigger business,” said Casadei, who runs the company with his wife and business partner, Alessandra Casadei.

Meanwhile, Casadei remains focused on the U.S. as well, with target locations for branded stores in New York, Miami and Los Angeles.

“This is an extremely important and strategic market, so we are just looking for the best locations,” said Casadei.

Additionally, the designer will launch his second men’s capsule collection — a collaboration with Louis Leeman — for spring ’15.

“The idea of mixing Casadei with the innovation of Louis Leeman creates the perfect balance for us to [enter] the men’s market,” Casadei said.

“Women’s shoes are so delicate, but we play with the men’s shoes by using different material treatments,” said Alessandra Casadei. “It’s a different world. It’s fascinating.”

The core women’s collection, which retails for $500 to $2,500, is stocked in Neiman Marcus, Barneys New York and The Room, among others. The brand recently showcased resort ’15, incorporating mesh treatments, lower blade heels, perforated metallic and chain-link bows.

At The Room, a division of Hudson’s Bay Co., the label is showing a triple-digit sales increase over last year, according to VP and Buying Director Nicholas Mellamphy.

Specifically, Casadei’s 120-millimeter blade pump has been leading the charge. “It is without question one of the most powerful shoes in the market,” Mellamphy said.

He added, “The growth potential of this brand is exciting. The consumer has started to identify it as an alternative to the majors. It’s strong and sexy, and has a bit of a bad-girl edge without being overly aggressive.”

Casadei said celebrity placement has helped create buzz and fuel sales. Everyone from Julia Roberts to Lady Gaga and Blake Lively has worn the label.

Moving ahead, the brand has a simple goal: to keep innovating. “If you don’t evolve, that’s the problem,” said Alessandra Casadei. “Our passion continues to grow.”

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