Coming to America: Armani Arrives in N.Y. With Plans for Growth

Giorgio Armani’s big plans for the U.S. kick off when he comes to New York for a fashion show, to sign books and get a lifetime achievement award.

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Still, when pressed to indicate the most likely scenario, Armani said he can’t be bothered with an initial public offering and whining shareholders, so linking up with a major industry player makes the most sense.

“Even with a big multinational group that can provide financing, often [the managers] may not understand why you need to do a show that costs $2 million or you invest in a store on Bond Street that loses money. The problem is you have to put your business with someone who is in the [fashion] business,” he said.

This time around, Armani isn’t name dropping on potential partners, although in the past he’s dropped hints that he admires companies such as L’Oréal, his beauty licensee, and LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton.

But before pondering that far into the future, Armani first needs to get through a packed schedule of events this week in New York, the highlight of which will be his picking up The Fashion Group International’s Superstar award (see sidebar). Just don’t interpret this crowning achievement as a sign that Armani’s slowing down anytime soon.

“A [lifetime] career award signifies closure or a conclusion, but I just want to be precise that it’s not my case,” he said, acknowledging that he wishes he would be honored for his current work. “It’s an important recognition, but honestly I would have preferred to receive an award for the best collection.”

While the critics’ reviews on his latest spring-summer collection — the same one he will show in New York Tuesday — might have been mixed, Armani shrugs them off as irrelevant to consumers. He said that too many other fashion brands have become lost in the hype and slaves to the trends.

“My product, I believe, is recognized as a product that has value whether it’s my first line or a pair of jeans. You put on a jacket and it fits you well. It’s an incredible privilege that I have,” he explained. “I think those that have success in fashion are those people that stick strictly to a fashion that’s based on creating a product that the public needs.”
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