By  on November 10, 2010

Kenneth Cole Productions Inc. today is opening its only U.S. store this year, at the revamped Santa Monica Place in California.

The launch of the 3,000-square-foot unit marks the brand’s return to the seaside locale where it stood for decades, facing the nearby Third Street Promenade, until the mall closed for renovation in 2006.

The store showcases Kenneth Cole New York’s full assortment on Santa Monica Place’s first level, also home to Hugo Boss, Louis Vuitton, Michael Kors and Burberry, and replaces a smaller accessories-only boutique. Kenneth Cole has four other full-price Southern California stores.

“The mall very much wanted us to come back,” said Jill Granoff, chief executive officer of Kenneth Cole. “Because of our track record in L.A....it seemed like a natural fit.”

Anne Singleton, vice president of leasing for Santa Monica Place owner Macerich, said Kenneth Cole’s return “made sense, especially with what we are doing with the property and the balanced merchandising mix.”

The store’s design is an evolution of Kenneth Cole’s latest retail concept, which is characterized by three different rooms or in-store shops separated by short dividers to distinguish footwear, handbags and small leather goods, and apparel. The upgrades specific to the store are white walls, a collage of photos showing the brand through the years, and video installations at the cash wrap and men’s and women’s areas to energize the store and communicate Kenneth Cole’s lifestyle branding to customers.

The objective of the design is to foster a “sense of discovery as you move through the store,” Granoff said. “Instead of having one large store, we have created more of a flow.”

Several Kenneth Cole stores have been transformed into the format, including units in Scottsdale, Ariz.; Las Vegas; Century City, Calif.; Aventura, Fla., and Atlanta.

The company added 15 units last year, but Granoff said the focus in 2010 is to make stores the appropriate size — the target is 3,500 square feet — in order to efficiently display Kenneth Cole merchandise across categories and to tailor selections to local tastes, such as putting more casual wares in the Santa Monica Place store for laid-back Angelenos. By gender, store sales typically are 55 percent men’s and 45 percent women’s.

Granoff declined to discuss the sales forecast, but Macerich estimates for Santa Monica Place indicate that annual sales per square foot could top $1,000.

“I think people are tired of shopping their closets, and if you have compelling product and an engaging experience…there is business to be had,” Granoff said.

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