Hefner begins European Playboy tour

Published May 11, 2001 12:10PM (EDT)

Bunnies in tow, Playboy founder Hugh Hefner launched a European tour that kicked off with a clothing deal with Fiorucci in Italy's fashion capital.

As of Thursday, Italians could buy metal-studded Playboy denim jackets or bottle openers with bunny ears at Fiorucci's trendy Milan flagship store.

Playboy Enterprises Inc. struck an exclusive distribution deal with the Italian retailer, whose tight-fitting jeans were a New York fashion "must-have" in the 1970s and 1980s.

Playboy is considering opening branded boutiques to sell bunny merchandise, and is seeking distribution alliances with other partners to expand its brand name globally.

"It used to be perceived as a chauvinistic brand. Now it's a badge of sexual liberation for both men and women," said the 75-year-old Hefner, flanked by two of his seven bunny girlfriends.

Hefner and his entourage planned to stop in Cannes, Frances, for the film festival before moving on to Munich, Germany, and London.

Fiorucci is not making sales forecasts for the Playboy items in Italy, but Playboy Enterprises is already cashing in on trademark merchandise in locales as far-flung as China, where the magazine is not even allowed to be published.

By Salon Staff

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