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MILAN — Philippe Model Paris is venturing into a new direction, launching a men’s and women’s apparel collection as managing director Stefano Di Nezza has appointed Finnish designer Tuomas Merikoski creative director of the brand.

Previously designed in-house, the apparel line was first launched in December 2021 as a see now, buy now collection, but starting with fall 2024 it will be presented in season.

Merikoski is the founder of the Aalto brand, and has worked in Paris at Louis Vuitton with Kim Jones and at Givenchy with Riccardo Tisci. Aalto was a finalist of the LVMH Prize in 2016. His first collection for the brand will be unveiled in January.

“I like his style, and it’s in sync with the brand, he represents the right combination of international cultures and different styles, including the French one, while not being purely French,” said Di Nezza.

The brand’s founder, also an artist and painter, in the ’80s invented the innovative and successful “Elastique,” a comfortable heeled shoe style crafted from elastic bands. Throughout his career he has collaborated with key Paris designers and brands, from Claude Montana and Jean Paul Gaultier to Christian Dior and Lanvin, among others, noted Di Nezza.

The executive does not believe the apparel launch is a stretch for the brand, but is in line with its history. Once a company spanning from haute couture accessories to interior design projects, Philippe Model was relaunched in 2008 as a men’s and women’s premium sneaker company, entirely manufactured in Italy’s Riviera del Brenta footwear district.

“There are some precise codes that belong to the heritage and are still part of the brand: color, volumes from architecture and design, Paris as a cosmopolitan city that is inspiring but is also a hub of cross-pollination of international cultures,” said Di Nezza. “Tuomas is eclectic and embodies and expresses all this through his creativity. He brings an architectural concept of shapes and volumes but has chosen Paris as his home for the past 20 years and is constantly influenced by it.”

The designer is also mindful of the environment and the company is aiming to become carbon neutral by 2025.

In July 2016, 21 Investimenti, the private equity firm Alessandro Benetton founded in 1992 and now called 21 Invest, acquired a majority stake in brand. The company has sales of 40 million euros.

Tuomas Merikoski and Stefano Di Nezza

Prices will range at around 300 euros for pants and up to 1,000 euros for a jacket or coat.

Di Nezza, who was previously general manager of FMM Srl, the company that operated the Frankie Morello label, said the distribution focus will be primarily on selective wholesale, a channel that now counts around 800 points of sales. A new online store will bow at the end of October. There are two directly operated stores, in Milan and Paris.

With the fall season, the U.S. market will be a key focus, said Di Nezza.

“The brand used to be product-oriented, but now we want to convey a more rounded concept associate to a style of life, with consistency and clarity,” said Di Nezza.