Etiqueta Negra has revolutionized the menswear retail market in Argentina with its well-priced, well-made line of semi-formal apparel. Now counting nine national stores and a popular reputation for polo-inspired designs and quality classics, it’s surprising that the Latin American style staple remains relatively unknown on these shores. As the Argentine chain opens its first US store, we asked CEO Federico Alvarez Castillo what the brand stands for, how it will translate to the American market and what it takes to expand a business during a global recession.
JC Report: You already have a strong presence in Argentina, why feel the need to expand stateside?
Federico Alvarez Castillo: Etiqueta Negra has been the leading menswear brand in Argentina for 6 years now. We felt it was time to introduce the brand internationally, and what better place to do it than New York, where every major brand in the world has a presence.
JCR: What makes Etiqueta Negra unique from the lifestyle brands that are already competing in this market?
FAC: We believe the difference lies in the mix of formal and informal pieces linked by our unique quality at a very appealing price for the American market.
JCR: In Argentina, what does the Etiqueta Negra brand stand for? How will this translate to US-based consumers?
FAC: Quality, classics and exclusivity. These are the same values we want to bring to the American market.
JCR: What will you do differently to attract the American consumer?
FAC: The collection we sell in our New York store is the same collection we sell in our nine Argentine stores.
JCR: Are you daunted by the difficult retail environment? Why or why not?
FAC: These are difficult times, but as said before, Etiqueta Negra is a new brand to the US market. We have launched our brand in the middle of a deep economic crisis in America and don’t have a sales history that we need to reach. We believe 2009 will still be a difficult time for business and hope that “fresh air” will arrive in 2010.
This interview was conducted by Robert Cordero.