Francesco Ragazzi hadn’t made a trip to New York since before the pandemic, but he’s taken the city by storm this week.
The founder and creative director of Palm Angels was in town to celebrate his partnership with Saks Fifth Avenue and to christen the brand’s new store in SoHo.
Palm Angels and Saks have collaborated on a dedicated visual takeover of the retailer’s flagship which includes a bank of windows as well as pop-up men’s and women’s shops inside. The two companies are partnering on a special “made-to-measure” dinner event for friends of the brand Thursday night, shortly before the brand opens the doors to its third U.S. store on Greene Street.
The Saks installation, which includes six dedicated windows on the 49th Street corner, features a black backdrop cut by a succession of geometric neon lights — an aesthetic that speaks to both the brand and the fast pace of New York City.
Similar visual elements are replicated inside the store in dedicated pop-up displays of the collection located in the women’s contemporary department on the fifth floor and the men’s advanced designer and contemporary area on the seventh floor.
The Saks partnership marks the official launch of the brand’s fall collection.
“We’re thrilled to exclusively launch Palm Angels’ fall/winter 2023 collection at Saks,” said Tracy Margolies, chief merchandising officer of the retailer. “It’s been exciting to bring Francesco’s vision to life with the takeover at our New York flagship store and we know that our customers will be delighted to add the collection to their fall wardrobes.”
“Saks was one of our first opportunities,” said Ragazzi, the former art director of Moncler, of the brand that was founded in 2011 as a photographic documentation of L.A.’s skater culture. That evolved into a book, published by Rizzoli in 2014, and subsequently into a menswear brand in 2015. It has since become known for its distinct Italian-skewed take on American culture and subcultures. The brand is part of New Guards Group, which also owns Off-White, Marcelo Burlon, Heron Preston and others.
He said the U.S. currently represents around 40 percent of overall sales for the brand, with men’s ready-to-wear accounting for 80 percent of the business and the fledgling women’s collection making up the remainder. “The U.S. market is very important for us,” he said.
That’s one reason Palm Angels will be adding its third store in the States. The company currently has a unit at the Wynn in Las Vegas as well as in the Design District in Miami. The Florida store is in the process of being doubled in size. Following the SoHo store, which measures 2,300 square feet and will officially open on Saturday, Palm Angels will open a store at South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, Calif., by the end of the year, he said.
Palm Angels also has a partnership with F1, the popular racing series, and it created two collections for the MoneyGram Haas F1 Team. The line offered motorsport-inspired T-shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies, chinos and a special varsity jacket that was launched in Miami in early May.
For the brand as a whole, Razazzi sees “huge opportunity” in several areas in the future. That includes expanding womenswear, adding accessories, sneakers and other shoes, opening more stores and increasing its presence in Asia. “We have stores in Korea and China, but there’s still a lot to do there,” said Domenico Galluccio, marketing and communications director. “We want to grow, but we want to grow healthy.”
Palm Angels also operates stores in its hometown of Milan as well as Paris.
Ragazzi said that although the brand found its footing first in streetwear, once a customer walks into a store and sees the full range of product offered, it helps boost business.
“When they see it, they like the store and enjoy the brand. Our goal is to give them more product to buy.”
The Palm Angels installation will remain in place at Saks through Oct. 24. The collection will also be promoted and sold at Saks.com and on its social media channels.