Striking a Balance in Milan

Executives at fashion houses hope the spring 2004 season finally brings light to what has been three dark, gloomy years.

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In general, retail expansion continues to be progressing rapidly.

After a two-year aggressive rollout, during which Dolce & Gabbana’s directly owned stores soared to 69 from 16, the fashion house is now channeling its resources to enlarge its production plants in Legnano, Lombardy, and Incisa Valdarno, Tuscany.

From 1998 to 2002, Giorgio Armani spent $643 million to support a strategic investments program, largely dedicated to retail expansion. Between last year and this year, the company opened 60 new flagships under the Emporio Armani and Giorgio Armani banners.

This fall, Ferré and Emporio Armani will open flagships in Munich — for both brands, their first in Germany. Prada headed east, where it recently opened Prada and Miu Miu stores in Singapore, as well as a space for the Prada, Prada Sport and Miu Miu collections at Villa Moda in Dubai.

Byblos is seeking to expand its retail presence by opening a store in Moscow in October and one here in the first half of 2004. By the end of next year, the fashion house, which is owned by Veneto-based maker Swinger International, will have eight additional locations, in Europe and Japan.

And starting with this season, Byblos Blu, its $4.6 million diffusion line, will be available in the U.S.
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