article by Suzy Menkes from The International Herald Tribune, enjoy :
[ Designer Tom Ford goes global
By Suzy Menkes
Published: June 11, 2007
NEW YORK: Tom Ford stood in front of the class of 2007 at Santa Fe Prep last week - where he graduated 28 years ago. "I gave them lots of words of wisdom," says Ford. "I told them to learn to do what makes them happy."
That could be the charismatic designer's own mantra. For three days later he announced a worldwide expansion plan that laid the foundation for a global luxury empire and put him back on fashion's center stage. After flirting with a movie career as a post-Gucci option, Ford has accepted that what makes him happy is the seductive cut of a suit, the gloss on leather riding boots, pristine cuffs on a custom-made shirt and the scent of Absolute Amber or Black Violet from a dark apothecary bottle.
He has displayed his "model" Ford in the Madison Avenue store since April, but the new announcement is a more potent indication of the aims of the designer, 45, still with the support of Domenico de Sole, of the Gucci "dream team."
As de Sole puts it: "We want to be the first true luxury brand of the new century - I really do believe that Tom has a spectacular reputation, that we are working with the best luxury retailers and that they believe it will be a very successful brand. The issue is credibility."
The Ford rollout is this: four directly owned and financed flagships over three years in Milan (2008), London (2009), Los Angeles and Hawaii (2010). But equally significant are Tom-and-Dom's franchise partners, often re-creating the network of their past successes. These include Daslu in São Paolo and Sheik Majed al-Sabah's Villa Moda Kuwait group.
What is the investment? De Sole says that the "beauty of not being a public company" is not talking bucks. But the business plan has franchises in place for Beijing; Dubai; Hong Kong (with the Lane Crawford Joyce Group); Moscow (with Mercury luxury group); St. Moritz, Switzerland; and Zurich. Ford has been traveling widely in Asia to secure flagship stores in Beijing, Shanghai and Tokyo, with a commitment to a minimum of 87 Tom Ford-franchised stores throughout Asia from Australia to Singapore over the next decade.
Phew! It seems a hefty stride from Santa Fe. But, of course, the U.S. market is in there too, with Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus starting exclusive in-store shops in the spring - although Ford admits: "Emerging markets excite me more than American markets." He was referring to the optimism in Asian countries, which Ford says "feel futuristic and a bit alienating - they completely belong to the computer generation and that is a new world."
Yet Tom Ford International has been positioned in an old world of masculine glamour from bespoke tailoring to silken robes worthy of an oligarch's gold-tap bathroom. In the Madison Avenue store, a butler and maid greet customers and usher some up to the private salons, with marble fireplaces and beaver rugs. Artistic touches include a Claude Lalanne table draped with a metallic gilded crocodile and a Lucio Fontana sculpture (which Ford is at pains to point out represents a vagina).
Can Ford, with his witty, suggestive aura but essentially classical tastes, pull off this mission: to build a luxury brand for men only? (Although the one-off perfumes in the store and the "Black Orchid" fragrance introduced with Estée Lauder last year are unisex.)
De Sole, who says he is far more involved than he intended to be, must be reassuring presence for the franchisers.
"It was an immense amount of ground work," De Sole says, referring to the period "since we finalized our relationship with Zegna," (the Italian luxury men's wear manufacturer) in February 2006 and a few days later signed the lease at Madison Avenue.
"I do feel inspired once the Tom Ford name is mentioned - I still can't forget what he did at Gucci, and our customers in the Middle East still see him as a great icon," says Sabah. "When I got a call from Domenico about the Tom Ford project, I jumped into it immediately and signed agreements with him before even seeing the product."
There will be special projects with Villa Moda - made-to-measure dishdashas (Middle Eastern men's robes), which Sabah says is a first in international fashion and predicts as an instant hit. They could be followed by a bespoke fragrances using local essential oils.
"I've got to put my DNA on everything," says Ford, who admitted that he had already registered his name as a trademark in the 1990s, when he seemed joined at the hip to Gucci.
All advertising and presentation will be under his control and project his personal vision, which is a discreet but Hollywood version of swanky luxury. The designer says he is interested in real customers, not celebrities, but Brad Pitt's appearance at Cannes looking Silver Screen smooth can have done the fledgling Ford brand no harm.
The one question that Ford's fans ask is: "Why no women's wear?" Or is it "when"?
"I honestly don't know," says the designer. "I love what I am doing. I love men's wear - and women's wear - but my hands are so full. For me to come back, I would want to address something not on the market."
The fashion industry is asking something else: after dramatic changes in the last three years from fast fashion to private equity investment, are Tom and Dom still a dream team?
"I hope so," says de Sole. "That is up to others to decide. It is not a gamble, it is a calculated risk. We are true believers."
& another one abot his global expansion:
[Tom Ford Goes Global :Taking over the world, one continent at a time
Friday, June 08, 2007
© Getty Images
(NEW YORK) Tom Ford is going big. Really big. Two months after he debuted his menswear line and Manhattan retail flagship, the design impresario is finally making good on promises of global expansion.
Tom Ford International today announced a targeted global expansion plan starting with four directly operated stores that are slated to open over the next three years in Milan, London, Los Angeles, and Hawaii. The first Tom Ford directly owned flagship store bowed in April at 845 Madison Avenue here.
As previously announced, initial distribution of the collection will be exclusive to the New York flagship for the first year.
Ford also unveiled plans for the exclusive limited distribution of the Tom Ford Menswear collection, with select luxury retail partners in the U.S. and Europe beginning next spring. The resulting overall plan will create more than 100 free standing Tom Ford retail stores worldwide over the next 10 years, as well as a carefully guided distribution network of shop-in-shops with luxury retail partners.
“This is a great day for us as we have now laid the foundation necessary to become a true global luxury brand and to allow us the platform needed to reach and service our customers worldwide,” said Tom Ford, president and chief executive officer, in a statement.
Agreements with key franchise partners that will allow for a focused expansion schedule beginning in Spring 2008 for key cities in Europe, South America, Asia, and the Middle East were also revealed. That premise will widen beginning in 2008 with the opening of a directly operated flagship store in Milan, as well as franchised flagship stores in Moscow, Zurich, St. Moritz, Hong Kong, Beijing, Kuwait, Dubai, and Qatar. Exclusive shop-in-shop agreements have also been signed, beginning in Spring 2008 with Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus in the U.S., Harrods in London, Daslu in São Paolo, Brazil, and multiple shop-in-shops in Tokyo and Osaka in Japan.
Additional partnerships have been formed with Trois Pommes in Switzerland, Mercury in Russia, and Villa Moda and the UAE Trading in the Middle East.
“We will remain in much tighter distribution than our competitors and will place a priority on delivering the highest quality product and the greatest standard of service,” Ford continued. “Our franchise and retail partners are the best in the business and with them we are confident that we will build a strong global presence and stand for excellence in a world of decreasing standards.”
In 2009, an additional 12 stores will open, including a directly operated flagship store in London, a franchised flagship store in Shanghai, and a second store in Beijing. In 2010, directly operated stores will open in L.A. and Hawaii with 15 franchised stores scheduled to open in Asia including a flagship store in Tokyo. Over the next 10 years, a minimum of 87 franchised Tom Ford stores will open throughout Asia in partnership with The Lane Crawford Joyce Group, including, but not limited to Japan, Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, Macau, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Australia.
Domenico De Sole, the brand’s chairman, added that the new partnerships will “give us the necessary competitive advantage as we expand our menswear business globally. With a clearly defined distribution plan in place and a discerning eye on quality, service and design we are poised to establish the first true luxury brand of the 21st century.”