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Reinventing Luxury: Rosato Has Strong Local Debut

With more than a million dollars in sales since it incorporated in the U.S. with an office in Burbank in mid September, Italian Jewelry brand Rosato hit the American ground running. Its designs are now being showcased in the Neiman Marcus store at the Westfield Topanga mall, as well as in 17 other Neiman Marcus locations nationwide. The brand has also landed accounts with 30 independent jewelry stores including Bettina Duncan at Fred Segal in Santa Monica and select Bloomingdales stores. The secret to launching a successful luxury brand in such a short period of time in the crux of an economy recovering from the worst recession in history is creative reinvention according to Michael Pucci, president of Rosato U.S.A. “It’s a formula. You have to apply simple, common sense kinds of rules,” he said. “One thing we know is we are a consuming economy, and one thing we know about the luxury business is people are not going to stop buying, they’re just going to curtail.” A Chicago native and a Simi Valley resident for the past nine years, Pucci, a 20 year veteran of the luxury business, approached company founder, designer and owner Simona Rosato with a plan earlier this year. Pucci had just finished a two year stint helping another Italian jewelry brand Rebecca, successfully launch in the U.S. and had observed an opportunity in the market. His idea was to capture the American market with a collection that would not only be better priced in the current financial climate, but would feature a category that would draw multiple sales and would also use gold, as he was attuned to the rapidly increasing value of the precious metal. What he proposed broke all the rules of fine jewelry in Italy. “It is a sin in Italy to plate anything,” said Pucci, adding that Rosato built a name for itself since the 1940s, working with 18 carrot gold. “I said, ‘I want you to make a plated line. I want you to go back to 1975 when times were tough and it was $800 an ounce for gold and David Yurman introduced his first collection in silver and everybody bought it.” The resulting collection of Rosato’s vibrant colorized sterling silver and gold plated bracelets, with unique designs and hand painted animal prints – and its subsequent strong U.S. entry – is proof positive that tough times offer creative opportunities, according to Simona Rosato. “I know the US market is a great challenge, notably in this difficult moment, but I think Rosato stands a chance and the first results in Neiman Marcus department stores give me hope,” she said. According to Pucci, the company created a bridge line between fine jewelry and fashion jewelry. “[The collection] is between fashion and fine, and it belongs in a fine jewelry store,” he said. “We really wanted to make something that fine jewelers can feel really good about carrying and also want to sell.” The bracelets, which cost about $250 each, have an appealing price, but because they are meant to be mixed and matched and worn three or more at a time, they draw multiple sales for retailers. Nobody else was concentrating on bracelets as their core item, and the draw of multiple sales as well as the pieces’ high margins, has proved appealing to retailers, he said. “We’re going in the opposite direction from what everybody else is doing. Everybody else is raising prices or cutting margins in order to keep their retails the same. We actually came out with a low price and high margins, with the right product, at the right time.” Besides focusing on product quality, and maintaining the highest standards of the Made in Italy signature, the company also had to be smart about conveying its message in the American market, said Pucci. Those Liz Hurley ads that had been used in Europe and abroad to promote Rosato, were not going to cut it in the U.S, he said. In a jewelry market driven by Hollywood, where uniqueness and originality mean everything, “[people] will never buy or wear something that one of their own is promoting,” Pucci said. Since the company already owned the rights to the Liz Hurley advertising and had spent a small fortune to pay for them, Pucci gathered all the backstage footage of the photo shoots with Hurley that he could find, and used those candid moments to promote the line. A recent full-page add in a trade publication shows a photographer shooting a model on a busy set. “You can’t really tell it is Liz Hurley, you’re not sure who she is but you know she’s famous. It’s suggestive, it’s not in your face,” Pucci said. Such details are important in the luxury business where you have to create the desire in order to sell something nobody needs. Understanding human behavior is as important as understanding market changes, he said, and in the current economy, people often loose sight of that.

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