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NEW YORK — Nicholas Kirkwood is amping up his retail presence.
This story first appeared in the May 21, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The British designer opened his second U.S. store at Las Vegas’ Wynn hotel on Friday and quietly introduced a revamped Web site and launched e-commerce. The 1,400-square-foot Vegas store contains the current spring collection, with pre-fall arriving in the coming weeks and a selection of men’s footwear in July.
Kirkwood also designed a series of limited-edition styles that will only be available at the Las Vegas boutique starting next month. The first, a $1,295 pump, has a pointy toe adorned with Swarovski Elements, has a metal heel and comes in black, strawberry or ocean blue. A gold and black zigzag pump with Swarovski crystals will retail for $2,995.
“Having our own stores has helped with the awareness of the brand, and it gives you a certain presence — a physical presence. In your own space, you can project the image of the brand, which in a department store is harder,” Kirkwood said.
The new store shares decor elements with the New York unit, which opened on Washington Street in the West Village in May 2012. These include flooring with the brand’s signature chevron pattern and varying shades of marble to give a starburst effect.
According to chief executive officer Christopher Suarez, overall business in the past two years has increased by 200 percent, a number he attributes to healthy wholesale growth and the eight-year-old company’s entrance into retail. The first freestanding door opened on Mount Street in London in May 2011, followed by the New York door.
The wholesale side of the business — the brand is carried in 150 doors worldwide — has experienced 135 percent growth since 2011. The U.S. accounts for 35 percent of all wholesale business through retailers like Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus and Barneys New York. The U.K. is the second-largest wholesale market, with retailers such as Net-a-porter, Selfridges, Harrods, Harvey Nichols, Browns and Dover Street Market.
Suarez expects the digital flagship to become the brand’s top retail door in time. An official launch of the Web site — containing enhanced imagery and more robust content — will take place in August to coincide with the fall collection.
The team has been careful about not extending the product range too quickly, Suarez said. Developing and adding silhouettes — like the single sole about four years ago and further extensions into the midheight heel and city flat sandal range for pre-spring and the current spring offerings — have been integral to the company’s organic growth, he said, adding that just three years ago, the collection comprised either high heels or flats.
When Kirkwood launched his line in 2005, the fashion industry took notice of the statement footwear he created, often extreme and paired with a vertiginous platform. He’s also created footwear for about 100 runway shows, including Rodarte, Peter Pilotto, Erdem and Gareth Pugh.
Although elevated silhouettes — like a pair of $1,775 scalloped gold leather knee-high, cut-out lace-up gladiator booties with a four-inch heel — will always be part of the brand, midheight heels and single-sole pumps and sandals have begun to shape the core collection.
“His designs are more about an idea and proportion — it’s not about having a platform or not having a platform. A lot of designers [have rules] — they say no platforms [for example] — but if you look at Nicholas’ designs, its about proportion, negative space and subtle details,” said Suarez.
To that effect, the knee-high boots also come in a modified sandal version that hit at the ankle, as well as a lower, two-inch stacked heel and flat versions — but all containing the scalloped, cut-out leather motif.
When asked where he’s set his sights for additional stores, Kirkwood revealed that they’re already scouting for a space in the Miami area that he would like to open later this year. Doors in Paris, Dubai and Hong Kong, as well as second stores in both London and New York, are also priorities.