Armani Links With Samsung for Electronics Line
by Stacy Meichtry. Wall Street Journal. Sep 24, 2007
MILAN -- Italian designer Giorgio Armani's announcement that he is teaming with South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co. to develop a line of high-end electronic goods underscores how top fashion houses are stretching the boundaries of the luxury-goods industry as they search out new products to brand.
Under the alliance, Mr. Armani will design electronics such as handsets and liquid-crystal-display television sets manufactured by Samsung, and will distribute them through his world-wide network of boutiques. He will unveil the alliance's first product -- a credit- card-sized cellphone -- at his fashion show in Milan today, the companies said.
Mr. Armani, 73 years old, is the latest Italian designer to plunge into the highly competitive electronics industry. Fashion house Dolce & Gabbana has introduced a gold-colored Razr cellphone made by Motorola Inc., and Prada has designed a touch-screen cellphone for South Korea's LG Electronics Inc.
However, Mr. Armani has been among the most aggressive of the fashion pack to extend his brand. In addition to fashion, the Armani empire includes chocolates, housewares, flowers and a soon-to-be- opened hotel in Dubai.
Phones, Mr. Armani said, are a logical next step for designers. "We make as much of a personal statement with the mobile phones that we carry or the televisions we have in our living rooms as we do with the shoes and bags we wear or the furnishings we choose to place in our homes," Mr. Armani said in a prepared statement.
For Samsung, which trails Motorola and Nokia Corp. in cellphone sales, joining with a fashion designer is a means of distinguishing its wares in an increasingly crowded market.
Samsung and Armani didn't say how much the phones will cost or which carrier will provide service for the phones. Giorgio Armani boutiques will begin carrying the cellphone in "major European markets" in November, the fashion house said. It plans to distribute the phone outside Europe next year.
Mr. Armani plans to unveil a Samsung-produced LCD television set as part of his home-interiors line, Armani/Casa, in January.