La Perla's for men, too

La Perla's for men, too
Ms Chiara Scaglia who is fluent in Mandarin, oversees La Perla in the Asia-Pacific region. In a bid to boost sales, La Perla is expanding its menswear line to include items such as loungewear and casualwear. - PHOTO: LA PERLA

When it comes to lingerie, Italian luxury label La Perla is as fancy as it gets.

A bra can cost up to $1,800 and, for a bodysuit made entirely of lace, expect to pay more than $3,000 for it.

While the focus of the 61-year-old label has been on women all this time, the Bologna-based brand is taking its business to the next level by paying more attention to men.

Expanding its menswear range is among several initiatives put in place by its owner Silvio Scaglia to boost sales. The Italian bought the brand from American private equity firm JH Partners in 2013 through his company, Pacific Global Management Group (PGM).

His daughter, Ms Chiara Scaglia, who oversees La Perla in the Asia-Pacific region, spoke to Urban in April about developments within the brand.

She was in town for the Passion Ball, an annual charity gala organised by events consultant Olga Iserlis to raise funds for Food From The Heart. During the event, pieces from La Perla's Atelier 2015 collection were showcased.

The Atelier collection is an ultra-luxurious line aimed at cementing its status as a high-end brand, a position that had been diluted in the years before PGM took over.

"The brand was not evolving. As a brand, you need to be innovative and you need to change. That is the beauty of fashion - you can reinvent yourself every season," says the 26-year-old Italian, who is based in Hong Kong.

Last year, La Perla unveiled a new men's line to go beyond boxers, T-shirts and socks. It now offers loungewear made of fine materials such as cashmere, silk and cotton. There are also casualwear items, including short-sleeved shirts in breathable mesh and cotton bermudas.

The prices for the men's collection range from $75 for boxers or briefs, to $815 for a bathrobe. However, only a small selection is available in Singapore.

Orders for other menswear items can be made at La Perla stores (L1-35 The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands and Level 3 Takashimaya Department Store).

"We are targeting a man who is young, fashionable and jet-setting. He wants to look chic not only in the office, but also during his own time," says Ms Scaglia, who notes that men are shopping more.

"People often wonder why a man would shop at La Perla because they associate it so much with women, but a lot of very famous brands started off in womenswear. It'll take time for men to accept us, but that's fine, we have time," she adds.

Even with the new developments in the realm of men, women are still at the core of La Perla's business. For now, 20 per cent to 30 per cent of its sales come from men.

For women, La Perla recently introduced its Complements line consisting of suit jackets, pants and silk satin shirts to outfit women for the office.

The women's collection starts from $50 for panties and goes up to $3,300 for a lace bodysuit. Items from the Complements line are priced between $1,000 and $2,000.

Her job as managing director may have been handed to her by her father, but La Perla is a brand that Ms Scaglia feels passionately about.

"I remember saving months worth of pocket money just to buy something from La Perla. Almost every woman I knew had something from La Perla," says Ms Scaglia, who is single.

Prior to joining La Perla last year, Ms Scaglia was the chief executive officer of Gold Typhoon, a music label that used to be owned by PGM.

She seems ideal for the role of pointman for Asia, given her fascination with the continent. She graduated with a bachelor's degree in Chinese from the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London.

"I've always had a random obsession with Asia, especially India. When it came to picking what to study, I chose Hindi, but my dad recommended Mandarin. He gave me a few articles to read about China and I was completely taken in by the culture," says Ms Scaglia, who speaks fluent Mandarin.

Her father, who is one of Italy's wealthiest men, made his money in telecommunications. PGM also owns modelling agency Elite Model World, which gives La Perla access to some of the top models for its advertising campaigns.

"Working for your family comes with a lot of positive things - you get a lot of responsibilities at an age when you should not have those responsibilities. However, I know that if I'm not good at my job, I can easily be replaced as well."

staceyc@sph.com.sg

This article was first published on June 19, 2015.
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