Founded in Bologna in 1982, WP Lavori in Corso was the brainchild of Giuseppe Calori and his daughter Cristina, the current President of the Group. They embarked on a transformative journey through the United States, where they discovered and brought back the distribution of several brands previously unknown in Italy. This marked the commencement of importing functional, authentic overseas fashion of excellent quality and high-tech standards.
The foundations were laid for long collaborations with brands that were to become true timeless icons, such as Vans, Barbour, Paraboot and Woolrich. So began a path marked by constant scouting for coolness and products able to make a difference.
The WP Store idea was launched in 1985, with the opening of the first WP Store in Bologna, conceived as a multifaceted space in which to present an expertly sourced collection of American brands. It was Italy’s first concept store, where the clothing and one of a kind fixtures and fittings created an eclectic ambience able to tell the story of the products and the culture they come from. In addition, WP began distributing Filson, the American outdoor brand established in 1897.
While the second WP Store was opened in Milan, distribution rights in Italy were acquired for B.D. Baggies, the storied American brand known for its “lived in” look shirts, as wearable naturally as a tee.
The first ten years of the WP’s revolutionary retail experience was celebrated with the opening of a WP Store in Pescara, and the book “WP Stories - Ten Years out of Fashion”. As well as describing the journey undertaken through a collection of photos, adverts and catalogues, the book marked a new way to communicate. Look books, booklets and leaflets become collectors’ items, giving voice to a ground-breaking, original language that is still part of WP’s “out of fashion” world.
WP acquired the Italian licence for B.D Baggies, which were renewed in terms of style and design.
While the trends of the 90s took casual to another level of quality, WP acquired the distribution rights for Australian Blundstone boots, followed closely by the Vespa license, a brand for which WP designed the first clothing line, reprising the Sixties atmosphere intrinsically linked with this icon. In the same years, WP began distribution of Sperry Top-Sider and Spiewak outerwear. Made in the USA since 1904, Spiewak supplies apparel and uniforms to fire fighters, law enforcement agencies and EMS.
Connecting the American identity of Woolrich John Rich & Bros and the rising demand for outdoor apparel, WP acquired the European licence and relative distribution rights for the Woolrich brand. In the same period, the first Original Arctic Parka collection for men, women and kids was launched. The enormous success that followed enshrined Woolrich as a synonym for parka, a cult piece and a trend setter.
The WP Store in Florence is located in the splendid Palazzo Berardi on Via della Vigna Nuova, a historic street in the centre of Florence, a stone’s throw from the Arno and the fascinating Piazza della Signoria. The interior features beautiful vintage-style furnishings and vaulted ceilings adorned with splendid sixteenth-century frescoes. The building appears in the list drawn up in 1901 by the General Directorate of Antiquities and Fine Arts, as a monumental building to be considered as a national artistic heritage.
“20 Years of WP”, the second book recounting WP’s journey was issued to celebrate its 20 years in business. The company talks about itself through its merchandise, WP Stores, its communication and the words of a number of friends-spokespersons, including Alessandro Bergonzoni, Cesare Cremonini and Piero Chiambretti. The book confirms the company’s active engagement with present and future changes in customs and trends, always through the lens and in the manner of WP.
The essence of British style finds its place of honour in Milan, with the first Italian Barbour Store opened by WP in Corso Genova. Every detail of the interior design is calculated to recall the image of a brand that has always been synonymous with an outdoor lifestyle, and recognized by all for its unmistakable style.
Three years of great international momentum, including the global licensing and distribution of the Woolrich John Rich & Bros brand, the founding of WP Lavori USA based in New York, and distribution agreement for Japan with partner Yagi Tsusho Ltd. New brands selected included Engineered Garments, Barena, Nanamica, Beams Plus, Save Khaki, and the Japanese Fith, for which WP obtained the exclusive for retail sale in Europe. In the same period WP acquired the license and global distribution of Italian knitwear brand Avon Celli, established in 1922 in Milan.
This year saw Baracuta added to WP’s portfolio of brands. The storied British apparel brand’s iconic Harrington jacket has been worn by music and movie celebrities such as James Dean, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Steve McQueen, Tom Cruise, Bradley Cooper, Mark Wahlberg, Leonardo di Caprio, Nicholas Hoult and many others. In the same year, the book “Thirty Years of Research in Style” published by Rizzoli celebrated WP Lavori in Corso’s thirty years in business.
To mark thirty years since the opening of the first WP Store, the company presented the book "WP Store 30th, Thirty years of Essential Retail" published in collaboration with Inventory Media. “The BlueBlack Collection", which focused on the stories behind the 20 unique limited edition pieces created by 18 brands that have been part of WP’s 30-year history, was dedicated to all aficionados of its aesthetic. In the same year, WP Lavori in Corso acquired partner company Woolrich, the first case of an Italian distributor acquiring an American parent company.
After redefining Woolrich's image and global positioning, WP sold the brand to the L-GAM Advisers investment fund.
Magnum Photos, the world’s biggest photographic agency, tells the story of Baracuta through the eyes of its great photographers. The exhibition that celebrates British lifestyle was set up inside the WP Pop-Up Store in Milan.
In 2022, WP celebrates 40 years since its founding with the WP Stories project. This cultural narrative revolves around WP's extensive archive, comprising over 80 thousand pieces, chronicling four decades of costumes, research, and meticulous curation of garments, accessories, and books. Creators, designers, executives, and founders are invited to delve into the archive, collectively exploring and narrating WP's journey. Alongside the launch of WP Stories, an exclusive selection of archival garments is made available for purchase online and at WP Stores.