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Italian Shoe Brand Michele Lopriore Opens Its First West Coast Store in Los Angeles

WWD
WWD
 2022-11-30
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For more than three years, Mike Lopriore searched for the right location for his first shoe store on the West Coast.

As the chief executive officer of Michele Lopriore , a luxury Italian shoe brand, he visited California shopping centers including Fashion Island in Newport Beach, California, and Westfield UTC in San Diego. He cruised around Beverly Hills. But in the end, he was smitten with the Westfield Century City mall, which underwent a complete $1 billion renovation in 2017.

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After much work, the Italian shoe store opened on Wednesday, showcasing the luxury shoe collection founded in Milan by Mike’s father, Michele.

“I feel that between the properties I visited, Century City has a great energy, a great customer base and good department stores such as Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom and Macy’s,” Mike Lopriore said over the phone from his home base in Miami. “The mall is very elegant and curated. They do a lot of events. That is why I invested a lot in making the store look nice.”

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The recently opened Michele Lopriore store in Westfield Century City.

The store’s 1,500 square feet showcases a range of footwear and handbags in an ambience of clean lines and lots of light. For the opening, the Italian shoe manufacturer is unveiling its fall 2022-23 collection featuring ankle boots, tall boots and platform moccasins with retail prices ranging from $350 to $495.

The Century City location is the family-owned company’s ninth store in the U.S. and its first stand-alone outpost on the West Coast. It opened its first U.S. store in 2016 in Miami’s Brickell City Centre. That was the year that Mike Lopriore moved to the U.S. to oversee the company’s U.S. retail expansion.

“When you open overseas, you have to have someone local to manage the stores,” said Lopriore, who spent a year as an exchange student living in Riverton, Wyoming, population 10,000.

After opening that first U.S. store, Lopriore studied the market and launched some pop-ups. Then, after visiting six or seven states, he opened a series of stores in 2019 at the World Trade Center in New York and in Chicago and Dallas. In March 2020, the shoe company had planned to take a space in the Aventura Mall in Miami, but the COVID-19 pandemic pushed that to June.

The Italian shoe company’s big retail push came at a difficult time as malls were closed or curtailed operations for a while and shopping dwindled as people stayed home to avoid contracting the COVID-19 virus. “During the pandemic, it was scary for everyone,” Lopriore said. “With 95 percent of our business in retail, we didn’t have a strong digital presence. But the pandemic was a big push for brands like ours to go digital.”

But retail is still an important ingredient for building the brand. “We have very soft leather and people are surprised to discover such a nice collection, which they can touch and feel,” said the CEO.

Company founder Michele Lopriore founded his shoe venture in the ’80s, selling footwear at the market off the Piazza Cadorna in front of the Milan train station. The company’s first store opened in Milan in 1986, on that same plaza.

More stores opened in Italy, but the company’s biggest retail expansion in recent years has been in the U.S. where Mike Lopriore believes there is growth potential. He is working on opening the company’s 10th U.S. store in Atlanta at Phipps Plaza in the next few weeks. The company also has five stores and one outlet in Italy.

“The United States is a great market because it is the home of many communities. Just think about Los Angeles . There is a strong Asian presence, which we don’t have in Miami,” he noted. “That is why we believe in the United States. It is the home of the American dream.”

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