TOKYO — Neil Barrett is marking his 10th anniversary this year, but kicking back and celebrating is the last thing on his mind.
Instead, the designer is spending the week in Tokyo meeting with clients, checking in on his year-old flagship designed by Zaha Hadid and plotting the future of his company — which may or may not include the sale of a minority stake to a new investor.
Barrett, known for his modern take on men’s tailoring and his ties to a bevy of celebrities, said he has relished his independence, but is ready to consider selling a stake in his Milan-based company as long as he retains control. He revealed that he’s been talking to a potential investor, whom he declined to identify, for about six months but doesn’t feel rushed to make a decision.
“I don’t want to be forced to and then be thrown out like Jil Sander or Helmut [Lang],” Barrett told WWD during an interview at the Aoyama store. “We know the stories. We’ve heard them. We don’t want to hear them again. It’s boring.”
For now, the designer is focusing on other matters, including fine-tuning his flagship here and — if he’s lucky — squeezing in a bit of shopping at his favorite store, lift étage, in the trendy Daikanyama neighborhood.
“I love Japan. I just think they’re the craziest fashion eaters in the world. They just eat it up and spit it out,” he said, dressed in a white cotton T-shirt, jacket and tapered jeans.
That’s not to say they are easy to win over — quite the contrary, in his view. “I think they’re more critical than anyone in the world. They seem the nicest and the friendliest, but they’re not,” he said. “If you don’t create that newness, then they’re not interested.”
Barrett is paying particular attention to the evolution of the Aoyama store since the brand plans to roll out a smaller version of the Hadid concept to its shop-in-shops around the world. The first of these will bow in December or January of next year at a new space in Joyce Hong Kong. The Bergdorf Goodman shop-in-shop in New York will be updated sometime next year. Three shop-in-shops and a flagship in South Korea also are destined for a facelift, but the timing has not been determined.
“We’ve never really done a proper store concept,” said Barrett, who spoke candidly about the bumps he and his team encountered with the Aoyama store. Hadid designed a sculpture for the second floor, but it proved too heavy to move into place. It also wasn’t compatible with Japan’s building codes for earthquake safety.
Now Barrett is mulling the best way to finish off the store’s upper layer. He said he’s in contact with a Japanese artist, whom he declined to name, about creating a sculpture to be incorporated into his runway show in January before making its permanent home in the Aoyama store.
“It’s going to kill two birds with one stone. It’s made here, shipped out and then shipped back. But it’s light,” he laughed, adding that smaller pieces of Hadid furniture will be arranged around the structure to round out the second level’s layout.
Elsewhere on the retail front, Barrett said he is looking at possible locations for his third freestanding store, in London or Italy, to complement his flagships in Tokyo and Seoul. The brand’s men’s and women’s wear generated sales of 68 million euros, or about $98 million at current exchange, at retail last year.
As one of the most recognizable models in the world, Christy Turlington Burns has an insider’s view of the fashion industry and the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around it. “I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry. The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experiences at some point in our careers,” Turlington told WWD, along with her suggestions for how the modeling world should protect younger women and men. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: Tony Palmieri) #wwdnews
@asics America has tapped a new brand ambassador: famed DJ/record producer @steveaoki. This initiative is intended to set the tone for the new brand identity and philosophy and will include partnerships with influencers and in-store and off-line activations that will continue into next year. This is Asics’ most significant marketing effort in two decades, and is expected to attract younger consumers to the brand. #wwdfashion
24-year-old Jean Prounis is redefining the rules of jewelry. Formerly a studio assistant to Jemima Kirke and a design apprentice at Ghuran, she focuses on handcrafted subtleties and ancient goldsmithing techniques. “There was a really sterile feel in the environment and I wanted to have jewelry with character that shapes how you wear it everyday,” Prounis said. Each piece is hand made in New York, either by Prounis or three other jewelers in the district. #wwdfashion
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews
“Stranger Things” is getting a new cast member for season 2. Meet @sadiesink_, the 15-year-old who will be joining the Netflix series for its new season. You may recognize her from “The Glass Castle” with Brie Larson and Woody Harrelson, but the Texas native’s next role goes in an entirely different direction. She describes her character, Max, as “a rough and tumble skater girl [who] becomes friends with the boys at school.” The second season debuts on October 27. (📷: @jgreenery) #wwdeye
Amid the Harvey Weinstein controversy, there’s another sector that’s being put under the spotlight for sexual abuse: the modeling industry. While rumors about abuse and sexual harassment of female and male models — and the photographers, agents and others who perpetrated it — have circulated within the fashion world for years, model @cameronrussell started posting stories from models on Instagram last week about abusive situations they’ve encountered — from sexual harassment and molestation to attempted rape. Over 75 have weighed in so far. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdnews
To celebrate its 16th anniversary, @dylanscandybar tapped designers and celebrities to create mosaics out of candy. The mosaics will be auctioned off to support the philanthropic cause of each participant’s choice. Pictured here is the mural created by @aliceandolivia's Stacey Bendet. For a first look at some of the other artwork being unveiled tonight, go to WWD.com. #wwdeye
The annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in Pacific Palisades this weekend drew Kate Hudson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laura Dern and more. See pictures of the star-studded event on WWD.com. (📷: @chelsealaurenla) #wwdeye
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye